For small legal departments, or larger departments that also have smaller remote or regional offices, finding pro bono opportunities can be a challenge. Each year at the Forum on In-House Pro Bono, Corporate Pro Bono, and the conference’s in-house attendees create a list of best practices that address this and a host of similar issues.
So, how do you involve smaller, regional, or more remote offices in pro bono? Why not take advantage of these suggestions:
- Identify desktop pro bono opportunities. For offices in an area without many opportunities, virtual pro bono presents a viable alternative. These opportunities may include:
- Administrative hearings by conference call;
- Staffing legal hotlines;
- Staffing forwarded calls;
- Reviewing files/documents at your desk;
- Conducting research on a larger matter; or
- Drafting templates/questionnaire/agreements that can be done remotely or by non-attorneys;
- Collaborate with other departments. Consider partnering with other legal departments in the area that have formal pro bono programs. Form a collaborative network of companies that can act together to staff projects;
- Identify legal service organizations that host regular pro bono clinics or similar offerings. Become engaged in scheduled pro bono events where lawyers from around the region are invited to participate;
- Make use of local Association of Corporate Counsel Chapters or other bar associations. Access programs offered by associations that have the support and resources to drive the programs; or
- Let regional offices of larger departments ‘own’ their program. Allow smaller offices to tailor their pro bono program to the interests and skills set of the legal staff as well as the unique features of the region.
There are lots of opportunities for smaller and/or remote departments. You can learn about these and more tools and tips for in-house legal departments at the 2011 Pro Bono Institute Seminar and Forum on In-House Pro Bono. We hope to see you there!