Category: Pro Bono

A Second Chance through Expungement

With the pro bono legal community’s recent increased focus on racial justice and criminal justice, Pro Bono Institute (PBI) and its Corporate Pro Bono project (CPBO) have seen a growing interest in pro bono work related to criminal expungement. Pro bono work includes both direct legal services to low-income individuals with criminal records and advancing progressive policy reform.  

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Helping Survivors of Sexual Violence and Intimate Partner Violence in the Time of #MeToo and COVID-19

While pro bono volunteers positively impact clients across all fields, pro bono legal services can make an especially strong impact on the lives of survivors of sexual violence and intimate partner violence. After Tarana Burke created the ‘Me Too’ movement and the popularization of the #MeToo hashtag spread virally on social media in late 2017, awareness and action towards sexual violence have increased in many spaces across the United States and the world. This post examines issues of sexual violence and intimate partner violence (“IPV’) and their relation to the field of pro bono legal services, touching on why access to legal

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The New Not-So-Normal for Pro Bono Legal Services

In recent weeks, our world has been turned upside down. Around the globe, we have been asked to redefine normalcy, while the term “social distancing” has found itself in our day-to-day vocabulary. Understandably, many people are feeling helpless right now. Feelings of frustration arise, because we have a desire to go out and help our communities. However, we know that the best way to do that during this time is to stay inside. Pro bono and legal professionals, especially, may feel constricted at this time, as they know their assistance is needed, but it is difficult to know how to

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Secondary Trauma Stress: Sustaining Pro Bono Volunteers

Many pro bono attorneys volunteer in high stress matters, such as domestic violence, child abuse, immigration, and death penalty advocacy. While the mental health and trauma of the clients in these matters is paramount, these high-stakes, high-stress matters also impact the clients’ legal services providers. Just as doctors, nurses and other medical professionals can face psychological trauma in performing their jobs, many attorneys suffer from the mental health hazards of caring for others, such as burnout, vicarious trauma, and secondary trauma. Secondary trauma stress, also referred to as vicarious trauma or compassion fatigue, is a condition caused by exposure to another person’s trauma, with

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Pro Bono Representation for Indigenous Peoples

“In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.” Iroquois Maxim Standing Bear was unveiled in the U.S. Capitol. The significance of this symbol — a Native tribal member claiming space in the heart of the nation’s capital on behalf of his tribe and all Native people — cannot be overstated. The history of Native peoples in America has been fraught with conflict, broken treaties, and forced relocations — an experience familiar to Chief Standing Bear, whose tribe was forced by federal treaty to leave its homeland in 1876 to make room

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Hoosier Lawyer? As of January 1, 2020, They Don’t Have to Be From Indiana

On January 1, 2020, the pool of attorneys eligible to provide pro bono legal services in Indiana will expand, thanks to a recent order of the Indiana Supreme Court. Indiana joins 39 states and the District of Columbia in permitting non-locally licensed in-house counsel to provide pro bono legal services in the jurisdiction in which they practice law for their employer. These authorizations come in the form of practice rules permitting registered in-house counsel, or out-of-state attorneys more broadly, to deliver pro bono services. Such rules are a critical step in helping to address the shortage of available legal aid

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A Shift to Service: Adapting to the Values of the Millennial Generation

A Focus on Service and How Pro Bono Work May Help In recent years, companies have focused increasingly on social responsibility and volunteerism within the professional sector. It’s no coincidence that this shift comes as the Millennial Generation, those individuals born between approximately 1981 and 1996, has assumed a prominent role within the workplace. According to a 2018 Pew Research Poll, millennials comprise more than one-third of the total labor force, giving them the greatest representation of any generation in the labor market. With projections that millennials will make up 75 percent of the labor force by 2030, the influence

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Gifts That Keep On Giving

Happy Holidays! Finding the perfect gift for that special someone can be quite the obstacle. Fortunately, PBI is here to help once again with gift ideas that give back to those in need. Need a gift for your favorite athlete or sneaker head? Check out Bombas Socks. After learning that socks are the most requested clothing items at shelters, Bombas knew they wanted to do something for their community. For every pair of socks purchased, the company donates a specially engineered pair of socks to someone in need; to date, they have donated more than 12 million pairs. Making sure we treat our body with the

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Celebrate Pro Bono Week! Now Keep Up the Momentum Year Round

This month, the American Bar Association (ABA) will mark the 10th Annual National Celebration of Pro Bono on October 21 – 27, 2018. The event is not only an occasion to celebrate the efforts of pro bono volunteers but also a week to inspire, educate, and train members of the private bar on the importance of their contribution to closing the justice gap. This year, the ABA’s national celebration has a special focus on disaster resiliency – a particularly salient topic one year after Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria, and one month after Hurricane Florence. This year’s focal point is

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Ferguson, Fines, and Fees

Check out our most recent webinar produced in partnership with West LegalEdcenter, Ferguson, Fines, and Fees, to explore inspiring developments in the effort to decriminalize poverty and how pro bono lawyers can be of help.  Since the killing of Michael Brown in August 2014, St. Louis and its neighboring municipalities including Ferguson, Missouri, have been frequently cited for legal and moral failings in the region’s municipal justice system, which routinely sends thousands of people to jail because they cannot pay legal fines and fees. Poor and African-American people are disproportionately affected. The events in Ferguson, Missouri shined a spotlight on

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