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) and some plaintiff-side law firms have active and varied pro bono practices.
Pro Bono Resources
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 Project. 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 the Chambers Associate’s Pro Bono Survey.
The Vault Guide to Law Firm Pro Bono Programs is another resources for learning about law firm’s pro bono policies as part of their ranking system.
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 February 2024, 70+ firms have joined the alliance to provide access to legal aid to those seeking abortions and to medical providers needed legal advice.