What is Pro Bono?
Pro bono is the provision of legal services without the expectation of payment. Many BigLaw firms (i.e. traditionally defense-side firms) have active and varied pro bono practices.
Pro Bono Resources
Click here for a list of Firms Sponsoring Split Public Interest Summers. The firms on this list have instituted programs that enable law students to work part of the summer with the firm, and part of the summer with a public interest organization, with the firm paying the students’ salaries for the entire summer. For further information on these types of programs, consult Yale’s explanatory guide here. Yale Law School’s Guide To Critically Evaluating Law Firm Pro Bono Policies and Programs
The American Lawyer also publishes an annual ranking of law firms according to their pro bono work. Berkeley Law students should be able to log into the American Lawyer’s website using their Lexis login information.
Click here for a link to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge. A program created by the Pro Bono Institute that sets the standard for pro bono and obtains institutional commitments from signatory large firms that 3-5% of their total billable hours will be spent on pro bono work. Click here to view the list of the most recent signatories.
The Path to Pro Bono (PDF). This brochure is designed to educate law students about how to ask firms that are potential employers about their pro bono efforts and practices. It also explains why evaluating a firm’s commitment to pro bono is so important. Published by The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service.
The NALP Directory includes information on the pro bono activities of each firm. Enter the name of a firm and select the “Pro Bono / Public Interest” tab.
Chambers Associate also provides information on pro bono hours. You can find the average number of pro bono hours completed by associates, total pro bono hours across all offices and how pro bono hours are counted towards billable requirements through this link or at the front of Chambers Associate’s Student’s Guide to Law Firms. A copy of the guide is available at the CDO Resource Library.
The Vault Guide to Law Firm Pro Bono Programs is also available in the CDO’s Resource Library in 290 Simon Hall.
Reproductive Rights Pro Bono
Large law firms have often shied away from pro bono work around reproductive rights. However, as a result of the leaked draft Supreme Court opinion in Dobbs, the Bar Association of San Francisco and the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office announced the creation of the Legal Alliance for Reproductive Rights.
As of June 24, 2022, twenty-three firms have joined the alliance to provide access to legal aid to those seeking abortions and to medical providers needed legal advice. For additional information — and a list of firms, see the links below.
SF Leaders Announce Alliance to Protect Abortion Rights (KRON4, 6/2/22)
Abortion Seekers, Providers to Get Free Legal Defense by Firms (Bloomberg, 6/1/22)