How To Provide Pro Bono Help

This page is for attorneys who are seeking more information about providing pro bono legal services. If you are an individual needing pro bono help, click here.


Table of Contents

Benefits of Providing Pro Bono Service

Fulfilling unmet needs: The current economic situation is dire – the Governor has called for across the board cuts and the state faces a multibillion shortfall.  Unemployment has risen dramatically and continues to rise.  The rate of home foreclosures is increasing almost exponentially.  Legal aid providers, already accustomed to being underfunded, have fewer resources and more work.   The indigent and low-income members of our community suffer the greatest losses when their ability to access justice is limited.  Public interest service providers need more support than ever from the private bar.
Your participation in any pro bono effort serves to increase the pro bono service safety net, leverages the effectiveness of service providers, opens the door to reducing costs and increasing quality of pro bono programs, and has a direct and profound impact on those who have the greatest need.   But the benefits don’t stop there – research shows that what makes good moral and ethical sense makes good business sense too.
1. Professional Development for Attorneys.  Pro bono cases can provide new associates with invaluable advocacy experience that they otherwise might not have the opportunity to develop during their early years at a firm. A properly supervised pro bono project can give young associates the chance to conduct client interviews, question witnesses during a deposition, or even appear in court. These experiences give new associates a kind of hands-on training that firms strive to provide.
Assigning pro bono cases to associates and summer associates is an inexpensive and efficient way for the firm to professionally develop its young associates while concurrently satisfying the associates’ yearning for hands on experience.
2. Recruiting and Retaining Attorneys.  There is a strong demand among recent law school graduates for a clear and solid commitment to serving the public interest.  A pro bono effort approved and organized by your firm or legal department can be powerful enticement for associates who want to work in an environment that embraces pro bono services.
3. Firm-Wide Satisfaction.  Pro bono attorneys often work closely with individual clients.  Such one-on-one work can be deeply satisfying for many attorneys whose practice might otherwise confer a more impersonal experience.  Pro bono work also affords associates, as well as partners, the opportunity to work on cases involving diverse legal issues and to develop a wide array of lawyering skills.
Making pro bono service visible throughout your firm or legal department provides individual attorneys with information about the numerous and varied skills of their colleagues.  Such information may prove useful in marketing efforts and recognition of individual contributions will enhance attorney satisfaction and retention.
Strengthen Client Relations.  A strong pro bono ethic can be appealing to potential clients who are seeking representation. Pro bono activity can build relationships between firm partners and Board members of local community agencies.  Also, many firm clients are public spirited.  Taking interest in the client’s philanthropies can build stronger relationships with those clients.
Opportunities to earn free CLE credits: [blurb]
Recognition from the WSBA: [blurb]
Recognition from the Washington State Supreme Court: [blurb when applicable]
Waived bar fees if you are retired or have been inactive:  [blurb and link]
  • Fulfilling unmet needs:
    The current economic situation is dire – the Governor has called for across the board cuts and the state faces a multibillion shortfall.  Unemployment has risen dramatically and continues to rise.  The rate of home foreclosures is increasing almost exponentially.  Legal aid providers, already accustomed to being underfunded, have fewer resources and more work.   The indigent and low-income members of our community suffer the greatest losses when their ability to access justice is limited.  Public interest service providers need more support than ever from the private bar.
    Your participation in any pro bono effort serves to increase the pro bono service safety net leverages the effectiveness of service providers, opens the door to reducing costs and increasing quality of pro bono programs, and has a direct and profound impact on those who have the greatest need.   But the benefits don’t stop there – research shows that what makes good moral and ethical sense makes good business sense too.
  • Professional Development for Attorneys
    Pro bono cases can provide new associates with invaluable advocacy experience that they otherwise might not have the opportunity to develop during their early years at a firm. A properly supervised pro bono project can give young associates the chance to conduct client interviews, question witnesses during a deposition, or even appear in court. These experiences give new associates a kind of hands-on training that firms strive to provide.
    Assigning pro bono cases to associates and summer associates is an inexpensive and efficient way for the firm to professionally develop its young associates while concurrently satisfying the associates’ yearning for hands on experience.
  • Recruiting and Retaining Attorneys.
    There is a strong demand among recent law school graduates for a clear and solid commitment to serving the public interest.  A pro bono effort approved and organized by your firm or legal department can be powerful enticement for associates who want to work in an environment that embraces pro bono services.
  • Firm-Wide Satisfaction.
    Pro bono attorneys often work closely with individual clients.  Such one-on-one work can be deeply satisfying for many attorneys whose practice might otherwise confer a more impersonal experience.  Pro bono work also affords associates, as well as partners, the opportunity to work on cases involving diverse legal issues and to develop a wide array of lawyering skills.
    Making pro bono service visible throughout your firm or legal department provides individual attorneys with information about the numerous and varied skills of their colleagues.  Such information may prove useful in marketing efforts and recognition of individual contributions will enhance attorney satisfaction and retention.
  • Strengthened Client Relations.
    A strong pro bono ethic can be appealing to potential clients who are seeking representation. Pro bono activity can build relationships between firm partners and Board members of local community agencies.  Also, many firm clients are public spirited.  Taking interest in the client’s philanthropies can build stronger relationships with those clients.
  • More.
    Pro bono work can offer opportunities to earn free CLE credits,  recognition from the WSBA,  the Washington State Supreme Court, and others; waived bar fees if you are retired or have been inactive.

Finding Pro Bono Opportunities

Resources and Support for Pro Bono Service

  • Substantive legal resources
  • Trainings
  • Mentors
  • Working outside of your expertise
  • Malpractice insurance

How the Pro Bono Network Works in WA

Pro bono efforts in Washington State are coordinated through a network including bar associations, volunteer lawyer programs, legal aid organizations, law firms, governmental law offices, corporate counsel offices, bar sections, and specialty and minority bar associations. LEARN MORE

Other Helpful Information

  • Pro Bono rules: Pro Bono practice is covered in Title 6 (“Public Service”)  of the Rules of Professional Conduct:

6.1 Pro Bono Publico Service
6.2 Accepting Appointments
6.3 Membership in Legal Services Organization
6.4 Law Reform Activities Affecting Client Interests
6.5 Nonprofit and Court-Annexed Limited Legal Service Programs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s