Public Service Fellows Program


The Public Service Fellows Program recognizes students who volunteer legal service to a nonprofit (501)(c)(3) organization or to a governmental agency. Fellows will be recognized at the Honors Convocation, which precedes the Hooding Ceremony, and the PSF designation will be added to student fellows’ transcripts.

There are four levels of distinction:

  1. Public Service Fellow: given to students who provide between 50 and 149 hours of volunteer legal service.
  2. Public Service Fellow with Recognition: given to students who provide between 150 and 249 hours of volunteer legal service.
  3. Public Service Fellow with Dean’s Special Recognition: given to students who provide between 250 and 449 hours of volunteer legal service.
  4. Public Service Fellow with the Dean’s Highest Honors: given to students who provide 450 or more hours of volunteer legal service.

Who is Eligible?

All students enrolled at the Moritz College of Law who have completed at least their first semester of law school are eligible.

How Does One Get Involved?

Students must identify an eligible sponsor either within or outside the college. Cybele Smith, Director of Public Service and Public Interest, must approve sponsors outside the college. Please note that LLM students on F-1 visas may only volunteer within Moritz College of Law or The Ohio State University in general, per visa regulation. LLM students who are permanent residents or US citizens may volunteer at organizations on or off campus.

What Activities Qualify?

From within the Moritz College of Law:

  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, the Pro Bono Research Group, the Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF)(Executive Board only), and mediation in the schools (even if one is also receiving a Certificate in Dispute Resolution);
  • Volunteering at Student Legal Services or any other OSU office performing unpaid legal work;
  • For JD students, the supervisor of each of the above programs, except PILF, is responsible for submitting each volunteer’s hours to the Director. Students who received PILF summer fellowships need to apply separately, but may in fact qualify for some Public Service Fellow hours. Please see Cybele Smith if you are not sure about qualifying hours.

From outside the Moritz College of Law:

  • Volunteer legal or mediation work for a legal services provider which is a non-profit organization or other 501(c)(3) organization, volunteering for a judge, prosecutor, public defender, or other government agency (if the student does not receive academic credit);
  • The duties of the student will be directly and significantly related to legal research and drafting, and/or stages of legislation, regulation, litigation or alternative dispute resolution;
  • The attorney or supervisor assigning duties will accept responsibility for submitting a written evaluation of the student’s performance to the Director;
  • The student will not be compensated for his/her performance; however, the sponsor can reimburse the student’s out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Board Fellows Program participants can and should track their hours for submission.
  • Hours completed beyond the curricular requirements at qualifying organizations for externships and some Washington, DC Summer Program placements may also qualify.

Submission of Pro Bono Hours

For JD students, all pro bono hours must be submitted on Symplicity by going to the Pro Bono tab (under My Account). Click Add New and then complete the form. You may enter hours as you earn them or enter all hours under one date after you have completed a pro bono position or project. If you have questions or  concerns about submitting your hours please contact Symplicity Administrator, Lakin Miehls.

For LLM students, all pro bono hours must be submitted via email by the end of the semester to Assistant Director for International & Graduate Affairs Megan Avellana. The email must include the name of the organization, work performed and total hours. If you are unsure whether or not a specific organization or task will qualify, please email Megan to check.

Deadline and Successful Completion

Graduating 3Ls must submit all hours on Symplicity by the end of March during their 3L year. 1Ls and 2Ls have no deadlines to turn in hours during these years.

Graduating LLMs must submit all hours to the Assistant Director Megan Avellana by the end of March. The Assistant Director will then send these hours to the Director of Public Service and Public Interest, Cybele Smith.

Cybele Smith will approve a student’s successful completion of the PSF Program and will so certify to the Dean and notify the Registrar to enter the appropriate designation of Public Service Fellow on the student’s transcript. Public Service Fellows will be awarded certificates of recognition and will be noted at both the Honors Convocation and Hooding Ceremony.