Pro Bono: Looking Back, Moving Forward

By: Carmody and Associates. Published by: Florida Bar Foundation, Florida Supreme, and Court Florida State Government. Published in: September 2008.

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This study, prepared for the Florida Supreme Court/The Florida Bar’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Service, examines the causes of stagnation and decline in pro bono legal services in the state of Florida during the early 2000s. Conducted over a period of several months, the study includes surveys and interviews of Florida lawyers and the various partners involved in Florida‘s pro bono programs.

Findings

Primary reasons Florida attorneys provide pro bono legal services: Personal satisfaction, Professional responsibility, Recognize legal needs of the poor

Primary reasons Florida attorneys do not provide pro bono legal services: Lack of time, Family obligations, Lack of skills/experience in the needed areas, Perform other community service, Billable hour requirements, Not clear government attorneys can do so

Recommendations

  • Florida‘s legal community did significant work in the 1990s to ensure that a framework was in place to promote and support pro bono legal services for the poor. Included in this work was adoption of the pro bono rules and funding and development of pro bono programs. Since then, a change in the culture of attorneys and a weakened commitment by many individuals and institutions has reduced the ability of pro bono legal services to be an exciting opportunity that gives attorneys rewarding experiences.
  • Strengthening the pro bono framework can only be achieved if a renewed passion for pro bono legal services takes hold and is sustained. Leaders of Florida‘s legal and pro bono communities must broadcast enthusiasm about pro bono and find ways to make pro bono legal services more attractive and rewarding—ways that rekindle and generate greater interest and excitement throughout the bar.
  • The current Florida pro bono framework is also in need of integration. The present system is a patchwork of several pieces, many of which do not work together. The system needs coordinated leadership and action around informed strategies to increase pro bono legal services.


Categories: General/Unspecified Clients, Policymakers and Funders, Pro Bono, Researchers and Academics, State-Specific

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