Bolstering Pro Bono with Public Interest Funding
This summer, 46 (and counting) second year Harvard Law summer associates will contribute a day’s salary to support a classmate working without pay at a public interest organization. The initiative, aptly called One Day’s Work, exists at top law schools across the country. Two Harvard students recently revamped Harvard’s program, and it is quickly gaining traction on campus.
The project’s instant success at Harvard reinforces what The PBEye already knows to be true — many law students, even those who aspire to careers in the private sector, are committed to giving back to their communities while in law school. Anecdotally, generation Y or Millenial lawyers care a great deal about pro bono. In fact, a number of PBI stakeholders report tremendous interest in pro bono among recent law school graduate recruits. Recent grads often inquire about pro bono opportunities during interviews, and have even reported selecting an employer based on the strength of its pro bono program. Further, law firms like Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP*† and legal departments like Hewlett-Packard Company** advertise their pro bono efforts to attract young prospective hires.
The PBEye thinks One Day’s Work is a great program. The combination of donating both money and time is powerful, particularly in light of recent funding cuts for legal aid. Lawyers’ capacity to do pro bono can be enhanced or limited depending on the availability of a public interest organization to screen clients, conduct intake, offer training, provide expertise, and, in the case of in-house attorneys, provide malpractice insurance. We are delighted to see law students providing more pro bono than ever and giving to their classmates, whose work makes pro bono possible for lawyers at firms and departments.
* denotes a Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®
† denotes a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project
**denotes a Signatory to the Corporate Pro Bono ChallengeSM