The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It


August 10, 2017

Is Bigger Better?

In June, PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project released its 2016 Report on the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®, which examines the pro bono activities of Challenge signatories.

We’ve previously shared highlights about law firm charitable giving to legal services organizations, pro bono time devoted to those of limited means and attorney participation rates. 2016 marked the second year that we analyzed pro bono performance by firm size. Firms with headcounts of more than 1,000 attorneys had the highest average pro bono percentage in 2016 (4.06%).

We also looked at average pro bono hours per attorney and attorney participation rates by firm size:

We are thankful to all signatories, regardless of headcount, for their service and pro bono leadership.

To learn more about the state of law firm pro bono, check out the complete Challenge Report, including analysis of the data, detailed graphs, and more. Also, tune in to the Law Firm Project’s discussion of the Report and Pro Bono: Beyond the Numbers on its podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour. If your firm of 50 or more lawyers would like to join the Challenge and become visible pro bono leaders, please contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Elysse DeRita.

July 3, 2017

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday

As we start this patriotic holiday week, do you need a break from thinking about the state of our union? How about focusing instead on the state of pro bono? Don’t miss the latest episode of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour, Pro Bono: Beyond the Numbers, during which we discuss the recently published 2016 Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Report, the current pro bono landscape, concrete and doable tips for improvement and growth, and more.

Subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts and be sure to leave a review! We’d appreciate the feedback and it would help us expand the conversation about access to justice. The podcast is also available on YouTube. Links to all of our episodes can be found here.

Listen along and let us know what you think. Send your comments, thoughts, feedback, questions, and suggestions to Be warned: we might just read them on the air.

June 29, 2017

Time and Money

PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project recently released its annual Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Report, which examines the pro bono activities of Challenge signatories.

A notable highlight from 2016 was the jump in charitable giving to legal services organizations. The average firm donation last year was $503,875, the highest average donation in the Challenge’s history, and a 9.4% increase over 2015, when the average donation per firm was reported as $460,660.

We applaud those firms and attorneys who not only gave their time but also contributed dollars to local and other legal services organizations. Firm contributions are critical to maintaining an effective pipeline and support network for legal services programs, and, in return for law firm pro bono efforts. They, however, on their own absent government and other support, will never comprise full funding for legal services.  Now more than ever before, we must remain vigilant and fully engaged in the fight for government funding for civil legal aid for the poor.

Check out the complete Challenge Report, including analysis of the data, l information regarding firm size and pro bono, detailed graphs, and more. Watch this space for more highlights from this year’s Challenge Report, and tune into to the Law Firm Project’s discussion of the Report and the “State of Pro Bono” on our podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour.

If your firm of 50 or more lawyers would like to join the Challenge, please contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Elysse DeRita.

March 21, 2017

Learn More about In-House Pro Bono Budgets

This March, CPBO releases the latest installment in its infographic series, aimed at making complicated in-house pro bono issues easier to digest. The newly published infographic is titled “In-House Pro Bono Budgets”. The new publication touches on: expenses, budgeting, and foundation funding. The data comes from not-yet-released responses to the 2016 CPBO Benchmarking Survey.

Among other statistics, the infographic reveals that the largest expenses covered in annual budgets include trainings of volunteers and refreshments at events. In addition, 50% of respondents whose pro bono programs received support from the company’s foundation or CSR department report in 2015 they received more than $100,000.

Want to know about more than just budgets? Good news, CPBO has developed a wide variety of resources for legal departments of any size, including the following infographics on critical in-house pro bono issues:

Want to do a deeper dive on the issues? Take a look at CPBO’s publications or contact CPBO for a consultation.

January 5, 2017

Food for Thought

After a food-filled holiday season, many of us begin the New Year with health-related resolutions. Want to learn more about pro bono efforts designed to fight hunger and increase access to nutritious food for those in need?  While eating is on our minds, check out the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s publication, Pro Bono Food for Thought: Improving Access to Nutrition.

Pro bono efforts designed to support food access and security have the potential to transform a community. Examples include turning an abandoned lot into a productive urban farm and eliminating bureaucratic barriers obstructing food stamp distribution or access to school meal programs.  Because this is an emerging area that many people – not just foodies – feel especially passionate about, you may be able to excite and meaningfully engage your attorneys and professional staff, including some who may not have previously been active pro bono participants.

Visit our Resource Clearinghouse to access this publication, which is free for Law Firm Project Members and available to all others for purchase. For assistance, please contact Law Firm Project Assistant Elysse DeRita.

August 25, 2016

Making Democracy Work

Voting is at the heart of our democracy, yet our voting system remains deeply flawed. A number of prominent civil rights and public interest groups are leading non-partisan efforts to ensure that every eligible voter can vote and that every proper vote is counted.

Pro bono lawyers are often at the forefront of legal efforts to cure legal flaws in the system, which threaten the accuracy, legitimacy, and fairness of the voting process. Lawyers have important roles to play at all levels of the election protection and reform processes – crafting legislation, enforcing voting laws, researching legal developments, monitoring the election process for unlawful behavior, representing eligible individual voters, and aiding local, state, and national organizations in bringing impact litigation to challenge unconstitutional election laws. The range of pro bono opportunities is broad and deep, with meaningful options for both small and large-scale projects and those that would appeal to litigators and non-litigators.

Want to get involved and make a difference this election year? PBI has three new resources to help you navigate election-related pro bono opportunities:

webinarListen to our latest webinar, Best of the 2016 PBI Annual Conference: The Challenges of Citizenship: Election-Related Pro Bono Opportunities (Pro Bono in Practice), which is now available on-demand.  This program explores how pro bono efforts play an important role at all levels of the voting rights and reform processes on Election Day and all year round. Jennifer BrownMorrison & Foerster*†, Ezra RosenbergThe Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and Chris WaltersReed Smith*† discuss emerging issues, how to get started, opportunities for collaboration, and a range of pro bono options.

podcast2Check out a special episode of our podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour, about Election Protection. PBI talks to Nancy Anderson and Arusha Gordon, The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, about the national, nonpartisan Election Protection coalition and how pro bono lawyers can advance and defend the right to vote.

bookVisit our Resource Clearinghouse to access our updated publication, Facing the Challenges of Citizenship: Election-Related Pro Bono Opportunities, which explores pro bono opportunities available during and in-between major national election cycles.

For assistance accessing the webinar, podcast, or Resource Clearinghouse, please contact Law Firm Project Assistant Elysse DeRita.

* denotes a signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®

† denotes a member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project

April 15, 2016

Upcoming Webinar: Global Due Diligence Manual

Due Diligence Manual Cover

Join us Thursday, May 5 at 12:00 p.m. ET for “Global Due Diligence Manual” a one-hour program hosted in conjunction with West LegalEdCenter.

PBI’s new Global Due Diligence Manual, produced in partnership with several global law firms, is a hands-on guide intended to help you locate, vet, and take on global pro bono opportunities. Join us for a discussion of clearinghouses, major NGO clients, research projects, and more. Learn how the Manual can help you expand your global pro bono program.

Confirmed Speakers:

  • Wendy Atrokhov, Latham & Watkins*†
  • Lisa Dewey, DLA Piper *†
  • Lou O’Neill, White & Case*†

Interested in-house counsel should contact CPBO Project Assistant Virginia Lyon for registration information or to submit questions in advance of the program. Registration is free for Law Firm Pro Bono Project Member Firms. Law firm participants should contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson for registration information.

Schedule conflict? Don’t worry – the program will also be available on-demand shortly after the original broadcast date.

* 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 Challenge®

June 23, 2015

Benchmarking In-House Pro Bono: Liability Insurance

What are some of the BM Trendsways that your legal department can obtain professional liability insurance for pro bono engagement? Which sources of coverage are most popular? The most recent CPBO Benchmarking Report answers these questions and more!

There is a variety of malpractice insurance coverage options available for in-house counsel and legal departments engaging in pro bono, including adding an endorsement to an existing policy or purchasing a standalone policy, and many departments access a combination of options to ensure coverage.

Insurance Blog Quote - finalAccording to the 2014 Benchmarking Report, the majority of responding legal departments elect to partner with a legal services provider that supplies insurance coverage for volunteers. Some of these departments may also self-insure, issuing a letter or statement to volunteers that their company will cover the risk, while others opt to secure a pro bono policy through a traditional broker or insurance company or through the National Legal Aid Defender Association.

Insurance graph blog

While the percentage of departments relying on coverage from their legal services partners remains high, CPBO notes a 16 percent decrease from 2012 to 2014.  This highlights a possible trend in in-house pro bono where legal departments seek greater independence and flexibility with regard to the source of their pro bono matters as well as demonstrate a greater understanding of the different insurance option available, which may be obtained at low to no cost.

For more information on liability insurance for in-house pro bono, including a summary of the benefits and drawbacks of the various options available to in-house counsel, see Professional Liability Insurance for In-House Pro Bono. To access the on-demand webinar, “In-House Pro Bono: Professional Liability”, featuring insight from experts in the field as well as in-house pro bono leaders about coverage options, contact CPBO.

If you would like to access a copy of the 2014 CPBO Benchmarking Report or are interested in learning more about in-house pro bono, please contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon.

April 3, 2014

2007-2012 CPBO Challenge® Report

Corporate Pro Bono just released the 2007-2012 CPBO Challenge® Report, which examines the pro bono activities of legal departments that are signatories to the CPBO Challenge® initiative. The publication summarizes data reported by CPBO Challenge® signatories from 2007-2012, and looks at the culture and performance of pro bono among a broad sample of legal departments. The video below captures highlights from the Report.

Highlights from the Report:

  • Meeting the Challenge Goal The CPBO Challenge® statement sets an aspirational goal of 50 percent participation by legal department staff. Since the inception of the CPBO Challenge® initiative, signatories have reported an average participation rate of lawyers between 42 and 50 percent. In 2012, 54 percent of signatories met or exceeded the CPBO Challenge® goal of 50 percent participation with regard to their lawyers.
  • Partnerships with Outside Law Firms Partnering with law firms is a common practice among CPBO Challenge® signatories; each year between 2007 and 2012, more than 50 percent of responding departments indicated that they partner on pro bono with at least one law firm. Responding legal departments also indicated that they considered law firm pro bono performance when evaluating outside counsel. In 2012, 52 percent answered that they considered law firm pro bono performance.
  • Global Pro Bono In 2012, CPBO Challenge® signatories reported providing pro bono legal services in more than 40 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, England, France, India, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and South Africa.
  • Informal Pro Bono Programs In-house pro bono is not limited solely to departments that have adopted formal pro bono programs with processes and systems to manage the departments’ pro bono engagement. The average lawyer participation rate for respondents without a formal pro bono program was 66 percent in 2012.

Since its inception, there has been a steady increase in the number of CPBO Challenge® signatories and in-house pro bono participation. For companies that have not yet joined, we encourage you to enroll and advance pro bono at your legal department. There is no downside as we do not publish disaggregated statistics, nor do we in any way identify individual departments as having met or not met the goal. Rather, we work closely with signatories to provide individual consultative services and support to help them improve their pro bono performance.

If you have questions about the Report or your legal department would like to join the CPBO Challenge® initiative, contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon.

October 22, 2013

In-House Pro Bono Budgets

While Congress continues to quarrel about the federal budget, your legal department may want to think about its own budget with regard to its pro bono program. CPBO’s 2012 Benchmarking Report asked departments a number of budget questions, including which of the following source(s) fund the pro bono program.

Budget Formulation

For departments with a separate budget or a line item within the legal department’s budget, the 2012 Benchmarking Report found that the total amount allocated to the pro bono program within that budget varied across departments as follows:

Budget Amount

While budgeting aims to predict expenses accurately, occasionally departments under-budget. When this happens, 68 percent of departments who responded to the 2012 Benchmarking Survey noted that with approval, necessary expenses can exceed the budgeted amount. When formalizing a pro bono program or drafting a budget, there are a number of potential costs to consider. The 2012 Benchmarking Report details what different budgets generally include:

For more details about possible expenses, read Planning Your In-House Pro Bono Budget. If you have questions about your pro bono program’s budget, CPBO is happy to help — just contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon.

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