Do You Track Your In-House Pro Bono?

Should in-house legal departments track pro bono activities?  The answer is a resounding YES!  Even if your company does not track work by time spent, it is still a best practice among legal departments to measure pro bono work.  

When it comes to pro bono, there are several metrics you might consider tracking.  Many departments track the percentage of lawyers and legal department staff that participate in pro bono in a year.  This metric encourages teamwork and engagement and helps a department measure the growth of the pro bono program over time. The Corporate Pro Bono ChallengeSM – the only national and global measure of in-house pro bono – tracks participation percentages among Signatory legal departments.

In fact, some departments also track hours.  Even though it is not the norm for legal departments to track hours spent on work for the company, departments may decide to track the amount of time lawyers and legal staff engage in pro bono work.  In addition to providing useful metrics for staff evaluations, this measure can help a department highlight that it can manage pro bono work and not interfere with work for the company or personal time.

Still other departments track pro bono matters.  This is an important measure for departments interested in growing and expanding individual representation engagements.  It also may help departments understand how many clients it has served.

There are a number of effective ways to track in-house pro bono, and it is important to consider your legal department’s culture and current practices in deciding which pro bono tracking metric and system is best for you.  For example, online databases allow individual attorneys and staff to track and record their own time.  This minimizes the work required for administering a tracking program, and affords individual attorneys a greater sense of ownership of their pro bono work.  These databases can also be used to track expenses associated with specific pro bono matters.  Some web-based tracking solutions allow regional offices to easily report their activities and see what opportunities the legal department is working on as a whole, providing a way for smaller offices to compare their efforts to the company as a whole.

CPBO is currently developing a framework that would provide legal departments guidance on measuring in-house pro bono.  To find out more or to learn about tracking in-house pro bono, contact Eve Runyon, director, Corporate Pro Bono.