The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It


March 9, 2016

The State of Pro Bono Around the World, and New Global Resources

The 2016 PBI Annual Conference will offer many new and compelling sessions, including a timely discussion addressing global pro bono and possible obstacles to participation. The State of Pro Bono Around the World (Thursday, March 24, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.) will explore global pro bono practices, including differences in delivery structures, practice rules, national and local legal cultures, and the need for and availability of pro bono matters. Included in the discussion will be two soon-to-be-released resources:

  • the 2016 edition of the Latham & Watkins*† Survey of Pro Bono Practices and Opportunities, and
  • the new Global Due Diligence Manual.

We hope to see you at the session!

* denotes a Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®
† denotes a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project


March 4, 2016

Celebrating Women’s History Month with an Access to Justice Pioneer

quote for women's history month blog

March is Women’s History Month, dedicated to the many achievements and contributions of women throughout American history, including women in the legal profession. Among the women to have pioneered access to justice in law is Clara Shortridge Foltz, a once-celebrated but now largely forgotten public servant. Foltz was the first woman on the Pacific Coast to pass the bar after first lobbying the California legislature to change a legal code that allowed only white males to become lawyers.

Foltz had a successful corporate practice and also represented many indigent defendants in criminal trials where she witnessed rampant prosecutorial misconduct and incompetent defense representation.  Her experiences sparked an idea for a public defender’s office to balance the office of the prosecution, and, in 1983, she proposed a model public defender bill which was subsequently adopted in California and 30 other states. The Foltz Public Defender Bill served as a blueprint for the system that now exists nationwide.

Foltz also dedicated much of her life to women’s rights and was a leader in the women’s movement. She devoted her time to making the study of law easier for women, forming the Portia Law Club which provided pro bono legal training for women and prepared women for the bar examination.

Foltz gave many public speeches on the importance of voting rights and equal opportunity, even appearing at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair to speak about legal reform. This inspirational woman was a pioneer for women’s rights in the field of law and helped make legal services for indigent communities more affordable and accessible. Her life of public service deserves a moment to be remembered this March.

Who is your favorite female pioneer for access to justice? Share their stories below!


Hat tip to PBI Intern Maria Vlasie for her assistance with this post.

November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

The PBEye is taking some much needed turkey time this week.  We have a lot to be thankful for this year—including all of PBI’s friends, colleagues, and supporters and their continued commitment to pro bono.  Leave us a comment below and let us know what you are thankful for!

September 11, 2012

A Call to Action on September 11

Eleven years ago today, the U.S. experienced a trauma like no other in our history.  We watched as a brutal and senseless attack by terrorists unfolded on innocent people who were going about their daily lives.  The events of September 11 forever changed us as individuals and as a nation.  None of us – not only those of us in New York City, near the Pentagon, or in a small town in Pennsylvania who were direct eye witnesses  – will ever forget the unspeakable horror of that day or the bravery and generosity of spirit that followed.

One of the most striking images of the aftermath of September 11 that is burned into our memories at PBI is the line of lawyers outside the headquarters of the New York City Bar Association seeking to help the families of those lost in the attacks and to restore the faith and hope of their community.  In the Washington area and all around the nation, lawyers, like most Americans, wanted nothing more than to help, and help they did.

In the weeks and months that followed, no lawyers were too busy to lend pro bono assistance to families of the victims, to undocumented workers who lost their livelihood when the towers fell, and to small business owners near Ground Zero.  None of us worried that we were dealing with legal problems that were unfamiliar to us.  We understood that our time, our training, and our legal skills could ease the pain, and we did whatever was necessary to provide help.

We can only pray that the tragedy of September 11 will never be repeated.  But, sometime this month, the Census Bureau will announce that the number of people in poverty in the richest nation in the world will reach its highest point in 45 years.  The fear, loss, and sense of powerlessness that those touched by September 11 felt is felt every day in our communities by more and more individuals, families, and children.  And, outside of our borders, for so many citizens of the world, senseless violence and searing loss are common occurrences.  As lawyers, we cannot end violence and tragedy, but we can lessen its impact and help to create civil societies built on fairness and the rule of law – societies that are far less likely to incubate these acts of violence.

On this anniversary of that terrible day, let’s make a pledge to use our privileged license and skills to make our communities and our world a fairer and better place.  Let’s do pro bono.

November 22, 2011

Giving Thanks

The PBEye is taking some much needed turkey time this week.  We have much to be thankful for  — including everyone who has read our blog and, especially, all of our guest contributors.  While we’re taking time out to give thanks, we’d love to know what you’re most thankful for at this time of the year.

Happy Thanksgiving!