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Providing pro bono legal services isn't always the easiest sell for attorneys. After all, you didn't sink that much time and money into law school just to give your time and expertise away for free, did you? And times are tight in the legal industry -- you're probably thinking that every pro bono client is a missed opportunity for some much-needed income.
But times are tight for everyone, not just lawyers, and an attorney's commitment is to provide legal service for those who need it, not just those who can afford it. The challenge is how to make doing good work in the community work well for your legal practice.
Who Needs Pro Bono Services?
Most practicing attorneys don't need to be reminded about the need for pro bono legal services. After all, a third of us got into the legal profession in order to help people. And the people who need help will almost always outnumber those that can provide it. "There has to be a need met by someone," notes Steve Marchese, pro bono director at the Minnesota State Bar Association, "and in many respects, it's going to come back to pro bono lawyers and volunteers to do that."
And according to surveys from ProBono.net and the American Bar Association, at least 40 percent of low- and moderate-income households will experience a legal problem sometime this year, yet civil legal aid efforts nationwide will only meet only 20 percent of the legal needs of low-income people.
Why Your Firm Needs to Provide Pro Bono Services
But just identifying the need for pro bono services isn't always enough to convince firms to set up pro bono programs and provide those services. So let Super Lawyers persuade you. In their latest playbook, Doing Good While Doing Well: A Road Map to Success with Pro Bono, the lawyer rating service not only details the reasons why pro bono is a good move for firms, but how to implement pro bono programs to ensure they're a boon to your firm's bottom line and not a drag on resources. (Disclaimer: Super Lawyers is a part of FindLaw.)
For individual attorneys as well as the collective firm, reaching out to those in need through pro bono work can rebalance their work lives, regenerate their spirit, and help them gain a greater sense of connectedness with the law. And even though it may feel like you're giving away legal work for free, pro bono work can lead to added revenue for your firm. According to the 2017 Super Lawyers Legal Trends Survey, 40 percent of lawyers who participate in pro bono work were able to trace back new business opportunities to their involvement in such efforts.
The professional contacts developed through exposure to the courts and public service agencies while providing pro bono legal work can lead to more client referrals and an enhanced reputation in the legal community. Pro bono work can give young attorneys more opportunities to get their feet wet and can give more experienced lawyers a chance to diversify their professional experience, making your firm even more marketable.
For more insight into how to make pro bono work a bonus for your firm, download the full Super Lawyers playbook here.