PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project is currently updating What Counts? A Compilation of Questions and Answers, a guide of frequently asked questions and explanations of “what counts” as pro bono legal services for the purpose of the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®. Since its original publication in 2003 and its revision in 2008, we have continued to receive a steady flow of new inquiries, whose inclusion in the upcoming version of What Counts will help further fine-tune our guidance regarding the definition of pro bono legal services in a principled, clear, and consistent fashion.
Among some of the more frequent inquiries we receive is whether time spent in training for a particular part of a pro bono case counts as pro bono hours for purposes of the Challenge. The answer here is yes:
[W]hen the non-legal elements of the attorney’s time are integral to the legal work as a whole, those hours can be included toward the firm’s Challenge goal. If an attorney would have been unable to handle a particular pro bono case without training on the subject, then the training becomes a non-legal element that is essential to the overall legal work. Accordingly, in this and similar instances, where the non-legal activities are integral to the provision of effective legal representation, time spent on those activities can count towards the Challenge. Training, however, should be linked to actual pro bono matters and representations to avoid situations where the only activities taking place are training sessions without any actual client representations.
If your firm of 50 or more lawyers would like to join the Challenge, please contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson. All inquiries about the Challenge are welcome, and if you have topics that you want to see in the new version of What Counts, please let us know in writing!