Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Good news from LAPP!

Director Nina Vinik sends us this information about the great work being done by the Legal Assistance Partnership Project:

The Litigation Assistance Partnership Project (LAPP), a project of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation, matches pro bono resources of private firms with legal service and public interest programs across the country. LAPP's core function is to identify and place significant pro bono litigation with private law firms nationwide. These are major, complex and often time-consuming cases that require resources unavailable to public interest programs. LAPP works with programs and issues that involve subject areas not handled by other national public interest programs and clearinghouses. LAPP also serves rural programs without local pro bono resources for major litigation and finds out-of-state attorneys when necessary because of local limitations. LAPP is meant to complement, not replace, other pro bono resources. LAPP was created in 1989 and is a project of the Section of Litigation's Pro Bono and Public Interest Practice Committee. For more information, visit LAPP’s website at:

Here are some recent results from LAPP cases.

Let's not forget Darfur!

Disasters at home tend to occupy the full band width of our attention and concern for human tragedy. I am continually astounded by the persistent level of public ignorance about the misery in Sudan. Here is the latest on the worsening violence from the UN. Projects like that undertaken by the Dartmouth Lawyers Association and its Darfur Crisis Committee in this report help raise the level of awareness concerning this highly complex and dynamic situation.

Featured Lawyer

Here is probonolaw's first Featured Lawyer: Esther Lardent. Take a look at her resume, and you will know why we think she is so terrific. Please send us nominations of others whom we might feature in future posts.

"Never have so many owed so much to so few lawyers."

In case you missed it, here is the American Lawyer article about pro bono lawyers. I find big firm Holland & Hart's attitude towards "billable hours credit" to be refreshing:
Not every firm's pro bono efforts need to be redeemed. Some never seem to falter. Holland & Hart is a 270-lawyer firm headquartered in Denver and secure on The Am Law 200 ["Happy Campers," August 2001]. It ranks fifth on our pro bono scorecard and first in participation rate, with 85 percent of its lawyers performing 20 or more hours of pro bono work. For David Broadbent, a real estate partner based in Salt Lake City who chairs the firm's pro bono committee, the firm's success starts at orientation for the new lawyers. "I explain to them why we do the work. And why they should do it. We try to tell them how to find the matters, how to establish contacts in the community," he says. "We tell them that we expect them to do the work. This is part of our values as a firm. This is who we are." Managing partner Ed Flitton says he wishes he had a magic formula for others to follow. He attributes Holland's record to the firm's sense of what it is and what it wants to be. He says that when the management committee sees a lawyer going more than one year without pro bono work, they might "send a message of encouragement." They don't even give billable credit. "When the people beside you are doing it, you tend to want to also," he says. "It's a source of pride for us."

What's in a name?

Here is a pretty good article summarizing the issues in play in the debate going on in New York about the definition of "pro bono" work. Personally, I think that reference to "the public good" ( as in "pro bono publico") is essential to any worthwhile definition of pro bono work.

Where are the pro bono lawyers?

LegalTalkNetwork is doing its part to spread the word about pro bono lawyering. Hats off to Robert Ambrogi and J. Craig Williams. Check out this podcast interview:

Coast to Coast, with Robert Ambrogi and J. Craig Williams from's arsenal of law bloggers. Why aren't there more lawyers doing pro bono work? We explore that with special guests Mark O'Brien, Deputy Director of, a non-profit organization in NYC that provides access to justice through innovative technology and volunteer lawyer participation and Ken Babcock, the Executive Director and General Counsel for Public Law Center in its 24th year providing free civil legal services for residents in Orange County, California. And as the Supreme Court approaches a new session, what's in store - what are the cases to watch? We're thrilled to have on the show, Marcia Coyle, Washington Bureau Chief for the National Law Journal and Commentator for PBS. We know you won't want to miss news from the Blogosphere too!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Pro bono statistics tell the real story about American lawyers

"A Report on the Pro Bono Work of America's Lawyers" recently published by the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service (August 2005) has some very encouraging news:
  • 66 percent of lawyers do some level of pro bono to people of limited means or to organizations serving the poor.
  • Pro bono work averages 39 hours a year.
  • Beyond pro bono, lawyers average another 38 hours of work for civil rights groups, community organizations and other non-profits.
  • 46 percent of lawyers say they provide at least 50 hours of pro bono.
  • 14 percent say they had not done any pro bono activity.
  • Older lawyers were more likely to work pro bono than younger lawyers.
  • The prime motivator to work pro bono is the combined sense of professional duty and personal satisfaction.
  • The greatest factor discouraging pro bono work was lack of time.

(From Robert Ambrogi's Lawsites). This is a very good start.

More on Katrina

The Louisiana State Bar Association has compiled a wealth of pertinent information on its site for anyone interested in Katrina relief efforts, including an emergency disaster training manual for Louisiana lawyers. The Young Lawyers Division of the ABA (in collaboration with FEMA) also has published a very useful disaster training manual. We should all be very proud of these selfless efforts by dedicated servants of the public good.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


From The American Bar Association is now gathering information from lawyers willing to provide pro bono legal assistance to those affected by recent events in the Gulf Coast region. Visit the ABA Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Center.

This is what I'm talking about.

Why don't things like this get more publicity? We all know the answer, but this blog is going to try to make a difference.

Friday, September 23, 2005

When you are linking to a webpage you may use the link feature and highlight the word you want to use to activate the link.

What does "pro bono" mean?

Here is what "pro bono" means. Note that it does not mean "works for free," although many pro bono lawyers do so. I think the emphasis on the public good is sometimes lost by dropping the "publico" from "pro bono."

The ABA is on top of this.

The American Bar Association has a terrific list of pro bono programs nationwide. Wouldn't it be great if these lawyers doing good got the publicity they deserve?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

This is the good life.

More lawyers doing good.

Let's roll!

There are plenty of pro bono lawyers out there working hard for the public good. Here is a link to a tiny fraction of them.

We are on a mission here.

I (John Mathias) am delighted to begin the process of promoting good news about pro bono lawyers along with my friend, Jim Rhoads, who is one of the most dedicated servants of the public good to be found anywhere. We are interested in identifying and praising pro bono lawyers and bringing attention to the clients and causes they serve. We will focus upon lawyers, cases, essays, and other information related to pro bono work and its place in our society. Please help us by spreading the word about this new blog and by directing information to us which is consistent with our mission.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Today, we are restarting the probonolaw blog. John Mathias and I will be posting some articles about probono successes and opportunities throughout the country. Keep an eye out.