Evaluating a Law Firm's Commitment to Pro Bono
Are you seeking a law firm that takes pro bono seriously? Do you hope to work in a place where you will be encouraged or even expected to do pro bono? If so, the following questions are designed to help you assess the quality and strength of a law firm’s pro bono program.
The best way to learn about a firm's commitment to pro bono is by talking with other attorneys at the firm — both partners and associates. While you may not want to ask about pro bono during your on-grounds interview, you can find out more about the firm’s pro bono commitment in its on-grounds hospitality suite or during your call-back interviews. If you never ask about pro bono the firm may conclude that such work is not important to you.
1. How is the pro bono program structured?
- Is there a full-time coordinator? (if so, ask to talk to this person)
- Is the coordinator an attorney?
- Is the coordinator a partner or are partners involved in the supervision of pro bono cases?
- How are pro bono cases brought into the firm?
- Who screens/assigns the cases?
- What types of pro bono matters does the firm accept? (impact, class actions or solely individual matters?)
- Do individual attorneys have any discretion in bringing in their own pro bono cases?
- Do attorneys in all of the firm’s offices participate?
- Does the firm provide training and supervision for pro bono matters?
- Does the firm provide support staff for pro bono cases?
- Are attorneys required or encouraged to perform a minimum number of pro bono hours annually?
- Do pro bono hours count toward the firm’s billable hour requirement?
- Is there a cap on the number of pro bono hours that count as billable?
- Are pro bono hours considered as part of the bonus/promotion performance review?
- Do summer associates participate in pro bono, and, if so, are they evaluated on such work?
- Are pro bono cases treated the same as billable cases when work is distributed?
- How many of the lawyers who recently made partner did substantial pro bono work?
- Does the firm sponsor any public interest fellowship or externship programs, and, if so, what types?
- Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge (The challenge requires the firm to commit 3-5 percent of their total billable hours to pro bono.)
- Has the firm met the challenge’s goals in the last 2-3 years?
4. Where does the firm rank in the Am Law 100 or Am Law 200 pro bono charts and has it been recognized by any legal services providers for its pro bono contributions?Additional Information: