The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
October 24, 2011

“The Good Wife” Does “Good” Again

There are many indications that law firm pro bono has hit critical mass – law firm pro bono brochures and videos, questions about pro bono in RFPs from corporate clients, cocktail party talk about pro bono work – but one sure sign is the prevalence of pro bono in popular culture, including documentaries, coffee table books, and prime time television.

As we’ve reported previously, Lockhart Gardner, the fictional law firm at the center of The Good Wife,” a successful CBS series on Sunday evenings, does a lot of pro bono work.  During one of its first episodes, a firm managing partner emphasized that “like many law firms we donate five percent [the highest aspirational goal of the Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®] of our billable time to pro bono.”

Again, last week, in between the maneuvering, scheming, and politicking, the plot revolved around pro bono.  In addition to focusing on one intense pro bono representation, the episode explored whether law firms can afford to (or whether they can afford not to) take on significant pro bono matters during times of economic stress and depressed revenues and the “worst practice” of dumping a pro bono matter back on the legal services provider or referring nonprofit organization.

Spoiler alert:  The episode has a happy ending for the pro bono client, the pro bono lawyers, and the financially-strapped legal aid organization which referred the case to the firm.  The takeaway is a pro bono positive message for firms to emulate:  the leaders of Lockhart Gardner decide to bring the legal aid organization in-house by offering the group office space at the firm.


The PBEye is gratified that the extraordinary commitment of many major firms to pro bono service through the Challenge® has become the industry standard, not only in real life, but also on TV.  If your firm has more than 50 lawyers and you’d like to follow Lockhart Gardner’s lead and become a Signatory to the Challenge® please contact Tammy Taylor, director of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project.

Who is your favorite fictional pro bono lawyer?  Leave a comment and let us know!