The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
May 26, 2016

Pro Bono Summer Reading

If you are heading to the beach this long weekend, need something to read in the airport or car, or just are looking for some darn good books we have some recommendations for you! In the past, our suggestions have ranged from best-sellers to classics to autobiographies to multi-part, investigative series. Earlier this year, we were fortunate to spend time with our friend Dr. Larry Richard as we worked together to prepare for his incredible session at the 2016 PBI Annual Conference. During our discussions, he offered tips for further learning and we, in turn, are recommending one of those books: Influence, by Robert Cialdini, which explores the factors that lead a person to say “yes” to another’s request.

Written in a narrative style combined with scholarly research, the book is a practical and accessible refresher as to “why lawyers volunteer” and an introduction to new ways of thinking that could help with pro bono recruitment efforts. Cialdini explains the ways in which we become persuaded and shares techniques based on psychological principles that guide human behavior. During his session, Dr. Richard taught us about many of these principles, including “social proof,” which is the phenomenon where people adopt the actions of others, in any given situation, in an attempt to reflect correct behavior. In other words, the bandwagon effect exists and laugh tracks work. If you have any doubts, watch this classic Candid Camera prank from 1962 about group pressure:


We have long advocated that law firms should leverage “peer pressure” as a force for good. The dictates of group norms are powerful and having visible pro bono role models leads to more lawyers doing more and better pro bono. Influence is an easy and thought-provoking read. We hope you’ll use the lessons learned to improve your outreach, increase participation, and grow your pro bono program.