How to Assess a Law Firm's Commitment to Pro Bono
Are you seeking a law firm that takes pro bono seriously? Are you hoping 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 which firms will be a good fit for you.
The best way to learn the truth about a firm's commitment to pro bono is from 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 program in its on-grounds hospitality suite or during your call-back interviews. In addition, by reviewing the firm's brochures and its online and printed materials you can see if pro bono is barely mentioned or if it is a highlight on the firm's website or in its annual report. If you are interested in a particular substantive area, such as immigration, ask if the firm does pro bono work in that area and also for some examples of recent cases the firm has taken on.
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?
- Do attorneys in all offices participate?
- Does the firm provide training 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 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.)
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: