The OPIA Blog

The state of pro bono work at law firms

At Stanford Law School on April 4th, students, legal practitioners and academics participated on a panel to address the decline in law firm pro bono work. It’s been well documented that law firms are feeling the impact of the economic recession, particularly those recent law school graduates who have been deferred from their firm. What is not as well documented is the impact on pro bono activity.
The panel, “Pro Bono and the Economic Crisis: The Impact on Education and Practice,” featured prominent public interest attorneys, private practitioners and academics from around the country to discuss the decline (and fear of an even greater decline) in pro bono activity, which has taken a serious hit during the economic downturn. Said one panelist, “…we need to develop a very serious plan of action for dealing with market fluctuations. We know from the research that, when firms are doing well, we see more pro bono, and when they aren’t, we see less pro bono.”
The panelists had varied backgrounds but they were fairly uniform in their sense of urgency. Many believed a new system of pro bono work at law firms should be presented to ensure those without the means to obtain legal services can secure representation.

To read the full panel transcript, click here.