The OPIA Blog

Law firms pro bono hours trending upwards

“The legal marketplace has seen better days, but there’s a bright spot amid the gloom. The profession’s commitment to serving the poor and afflicted appears healthy despite the downturn.”

A good line to read, isn’t it? It appears that in times of crisis, many lawyers and law firms revisit the main reason why one goes into legal practice: to help the disadvantaged and defend just causes. Every year, The National Law Journal issues the Pro Bono Awards to lawyers doing exemplary pro bono legal work that merits recognition. Although the awards have not been given out just yet, the journal noticed a few positive trends when analyzing the data:

1.) Pro bono work is being used to “sharpen” young associates’ skill sets and because of the absence of paying work, serves a way to keep them busy and on top of their lawyering skills.
2.) Pro bono has become somewhat of a mandatory part of a law firm and a lawyer’s practice. Rather than turn people away, many young associates find this to be greatly appealing.
3.) More and more, lawyers and law firms are viewing the challenge of pro bono work as a positive test and a duty they are willing to take on.

To read the full National Law Journal, click on this link. To read the 2008 report on the pro bono challenge from the Pro Bono Institute at Georgetown University Law Center, click on this link. This report shows the increase in pro bono hours and some of the challenges many of the firms met when delivering pro bono work. A new report is scheduled for July 2010.