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How Tech Is Making Pro Bono Work Easier for Lawyers

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on December 22, 2016 1:03 PM

Getting a lawyer to do pro bono work these days is easier than getting a lawyer to a car crash scene. Seriously, that's not a lawyer joke (but I will be here all week).

A generation ago, lawyers were called "ambulance chasers" because many people thought they were more interested in making money from their clients' misfortunes than the clients themselves. But today, partly due to the generosity of many lawyers to take on clients for free, more people know the term "pro bono" than ever. And tech is only making things easier.

Stay-at-Home Parents Wanted

The Pro Bono Network is a Chicago-based organization formed in 2011 that enables attorneys to work pro bono on an as-needed basis. There's no long-term commitment. The Pro Bono Network helps legal aid agencies expand or adapt pro bono programs to fit within the time constraints of stay-at-home lawyers. PBN connects lawyers with the agencies so long as the hours are flexible, allowing attorneys "to work in pairs to ensure back up when the inevitable sick-child situation arises."

According to its website, where lawyers may join online, the Pro Bono Network has grown to more than 200 attorneys and 20 translators who have clocked more than 5,000 volunteer hours. They have helped immigrants apply for legal residency, drafted powers of attorney and wills for seniors, counseled low-income debtors, protected domestic violence victims, resolved landlord/tenant disputes, and provided for children of incarcerated mothers by securing guardianships, benefits, and other necessities.

Who Are PBN Volunteers?

Executive director Donna Peel specifies that one-third of PBN's volunteers are women who have either left work or are on career break. The other volunteers consist of part-time lawyers, full-time lawyers who like the model, and retired lawyers.

The legal market as a whole is experiencing an "Uber-ization," to use the ABA Journal's term. It makes perfect sense that we'll continue to see pro bono services "Uber-ized" in the coming years.

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