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Law Firm Pro Bono Performance Remains Steady

July 12, 2012

Contact: Christina Gordon
Phone: 202.729.6696
E-mail: cgordon@probonoinst.org
Website: www.probonoinst.org

Washington, D.C. – July 11 – The Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project has released its report on the 2011 Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® data. One hundred thirty-four participating firms reported in 2011, performing a total of 4,476,866 hours of pro bono work – a slight increase over 2010. This is the third highest year since the inception of the Challenge in 1995.

The Report on the 2011 Pro Bono Institute Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®statistics examines the pro bono performance of firms that are Signatories to PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® during the 2011 calendar year. The Challenge is the industry standard for pro bono participation in large law firms (those with 50 or more attorneys). Challenge Signatory firms have committed to contribute 3 or 5 percent (or 60 or 100 hours per attorney) of their annual billable hours to pro bono activities as defined by the Challenge and report their performance to PBI each year.

“We are pleased to see that law firm pro bono has remained steady, even as the economy has been slow to recover,” said PBI President and CEO Esther F. Lardent. “This doesn’t give us license to be complacent, as there are still significant challenges and more people in greater need of pro bono assistance than ever before.”

A particular point of concern is that service to persons of limited means or to charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental, and educational organizations in matters which are designed primarily to address the needs of persons of limited means decreased by 9.7 percent from 2010. Challenge firms donated 2,578,958 hours to this group in 2011.

Charitable giving by firms, however, was strong. Challenge firms increased the amount they donated to $28,654,304 – the largest amount given since 2007, and an increase of 12.7 percent over 2010.

The report also lays out some directional recommendations for strengthening, rethinking, and revamping pro bono efforts at major law firms.

To view the full report, including executive summary, data analysis, and future directions, click here.

About the Law Firm Pro Bono Project 
The Law Firm Pro Bono Project is the only global effort designed to support and enhance the pro bono culture and performance of major law firms in the United States and around the world. The Project’s goal is to fully integrate pro bono into the practice, philosophy, and culture of firms so that large law firms provide the institutional support, infrastructure, and encouragement essential to fostering a climate supportive of pro bono service and promoting partner and associate participation.

About the Pro Bono Institute
Established in 1996, PBI is a nonprofit organization with a mandate to explore and identify new approaches to the poor and disadvantaged unable to secure legal assistance to address critical problems. PBI identifies and develops innovative programs and undertakes rigorous evaluations to ensure that these new approaches are workable and effective.