Report of the Pro Bono Task Force

Published by: Legal Services Corporation (LSC). Published in October 2012.

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In August 2011, LSC created a 67-member Pro Bono Task Force comprised of judges, corporate general counsel, bar leaders, technology experts, leaders of organized pro bono programs, law firm leaders, government lawyers, law school deans, and the heads of legal services organizations, to consider how to effectively increase pro bono involvement by all lawyers. The Task Force divided into five working groups: Best Practices Urban; Best Practices Rural; Obstacles; Technology; and Big Ideas. Each working group spent months conducting interviews, identifying significant practices, and sharing ideas, and in October 2012 the Task Force reported its findings and recommendations to the LSC Board of Directors.

Specifically, the Task Force has compiled the following recommendations to LSC and its grantees, as well as a set of requests for the legal profession as a whole. In reviewing these recommendations and requests, readers should keep in mind that pro bono programs will not be effective without significant infrastructure, guidance, and support from legal services agencies. Thus, although pro bono programs can be an effective means of narrowing the justice gap, they cannot exist unless legal services organizations are adequately funded to support them.

Recommendations: Recommendations to LSC and Its Grantees

Recommendation 1 LSC Should Serve as an Information Clearinghouse and Source of Coordination and Technical Assistance to Help Grantees Develop Strong Pro Bono Programs. Specifically, LSC should:

Create a professional association specifically for probono managers at LSC grantees. Recommend that Congress create a Pro Bono Innovation/Incubation Fund Develop a Pro Bono Toolkit. This toolkit should build on existing resources for pro bono programs, be focused on making pro bono a reliable and sustained resource for the community, and: (1) Include a plan for evaluating pro bono programs, including guidance on best practices in metrics and evaluation; (2) Provide guidance on offering effective volunteer support; (3) Help grantees provide a range of pro bono opportunities to engage all segments of the bar; (4) Include mechanisms for engaging non-lawyers as pro bono volunteers; (5) Use pro bono lawyers to assist pro se litigants; (6) Encourage collaboration and resource sharing among pro bono programs; (7) Use technology to support pro bono programs; (8) Use pro bono to decrease overall demand for funded legal services; (9) Offer guidance on developing a strong probono culture; (10) Encourage efforts to ensure that pro bono programs are adequately resourced.

Recommendation 2 LSC Should Revise its Private Attorney Involvement (PAI) Regulation to Encourage Pro Bono

Recommendation 3 LSC Should Launch a Public Relations Campaign on the Importance of Pro Bono

Recommendation 4 LSC Should Create a Fellowship Program to Foster a Lifelong Commitment to Pro Bono

Requests for Assistance from the Legal Profession Bar leaders and the Judiciary

To the Extent Permitted, Recruit Pro Bono Lawyers. Support and Applaud Their Pro Bono Efforts Use Bar Associations to Encourage, Support, and Celebrate Pro Bono Amend Attorney Practice, Judicial Ethics, and CLE Rules to Support Pro Bono Create or Strengthen State Access to Justice Commissions.

The legal profession as a whole: Recognize the importance of providing every American with access to our justice system and the role that pro bono lawyers can play in offering that access. At the same time, recognize the cost of developing and maintaining effective pro bono programs and ensure that legal services agencies are adequately funded for that purpose.

Categories: Legal Aid Practitioners, National, Policymakers and Funders, Pro Bono

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