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by Mary Kate Sheridan | October 24, 2018


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

It’s National Pro Bono Week! Legal organizations, law schools, and bar associations around the country are celebrating the enormous contributions that lawyers make to pro bono daily.

This year is particularly special because it marks the 10th year of ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service's (The Committee) National Celebration of Pro Bono. According to the Committee:

“The confluence of two circumstances made the timing of the National Celebration of Pro Bono particularly important: the increasing need for pro bono services as economic conditions worsened, and the unprecedented response of attorneys to meet this need. Although national in breadth, this initiative provides an opportunity for legal organizations across the country to collaboratively commemorate the vitally important contributions of America's lawyers and to recruit and train the many additional volunteers required to meet the growing demand.”

Pro bono is an invaluable aspect of practice for many law firm associates. Most importantly, it gives them opportunities to use their legal skills and educations to help those in need. Getting involved in pro bono allows attorneys to give back to their communities and/or get involved in legal issues about which they are passionate. And the work provides amazing opportunities for attorneys to develop their legal skills and take the lead on cases.

It’s hard not to be inspired by some of the associate pro bono efforts we read about through Vault’s Annual Associate Survey. In celebration of #ProBonoWeek, we decided to share some associate reflections on their firms’ pro bono work. Below are quotes from associates at some of Vault’s Best Law Firms for Pro Bono (2019):

#1 Jenner & Block LLP: “The amount of pro bono work we do is insane. The commitment to pro bono runs deep. Everyone is very passionate about it, and it seems like every attorney I know is handling multiple pro bono cases. The firm is always asking us to take on pro bono requests, and they always send updates on pro bono victories. Pro bono work is fundamental to who we are as a firm.”

#2 Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP: “The firm has an excellent pro bono program with 100 percent attorney participation for 14 years running and varied opportunities for associates.”

#3 Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP: “If I didn't do pro bono work, I'd have some explaining to do in my annual review: the commitment is serious. There are lots of interesting options on diverse subjects, and it is often where junior associates are given opportunity to lead.”

#4 O”Melveny & Myers LLP: “The firm unequivocally embraces pro bono. There are frequent emails with cases, periodic pro bono meetings with various legal services organizations, and an annual pro bono awards that is well attended by senior management (this year the chair discussed his pro bono work). There has recently been both a push to encourage all attorneys to do pro bono, and we have started partnering with clients on pro bono projects—for example, last year we hosted a permanent residency and veteran's clinic where our lawyers teamed with in-house attorneys at our client.”

#5 Crowell & Moring LLP: “Extremely committed to pro bono, with many associates billing hundreds of pro bono hours annually to contribute to our communities. I've worked on a wide range of pro bono projects, from representation of a client before the U.S. Parole Commission, multiple housing cases, LGBT civil rights cases, and asylum matters.”

How does your firm give back through pro bono work? We’d love to hear from you on twitter! #celebrateprobono


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