Harnessing In-House Pro Bono

By: Manasi Raveendran

Manasi Raveendran is a Cybersecurity Attorney with IBM Corporation. The views in this article are her own and do not necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies, or opinions.

As a graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School, I was taught to be “a different kind of lawyer.” To me, that means that I always look for ways to give back through pro bono. Continue reading

Posted in Access to Justice, Center for Pro Bono, Pro bono news, Pro Bono Story, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pro bono Volunteers Mobilize to Assist Immigrants at Airports with Legal Questions and to Staff the California Justice Bus, Courtesy of One Justice.

By: Jason Dominguez

What’s the funnest thing you can imagine? Pro bono legal work! What is more fun than that? Pro bono legal work on a bus? Continue reading

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Pro Bono Reporting Comes to North Carolina

Jennifer Lechner, Executive Director at the NC Equal Access to Justice Commission reports on the introduction of a voluntary pro bono reporting in North Carolina.  North Carolina joins twenty-two other states that currently track pro bono participation! Great news!  Read her article here.

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The Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service Year-in-Review


George T. “Buck” Lewis, Chair, ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service

Needless to say perhaps, 2016 was a whale of a year. Events have cascaded daily right into our living rooms and mobile devices. The need for access to justice resources, of course, remains unabated. So, the work of our Committee and of our collaboration partners is as critical as ever. Our work together gives me great pride in our profession. There is simply no other profession more committed to helping those in need. Continue reading

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National Celebration of Pro Bono


The 8th Annual National Celebration of Pro Bono was a huge success!

Over 1,150 events – from clinics and CLEs to pro bono award ceremonies, fundraisers, and Veterans events- were held in 49 states across the country, the District of Columbia, and Chile!

We had 600+ event sponsors including bar associations, courts, legal aid and pro bono programs, law firms and law schools.

Thank you to all who participated and for all that you do every day to increase access to justice.


ABA Veterans Legal Services Initiative

The featured event for the 2016 National Celebration of Pro Bono was the ABA Veterans Legal Services Initiative. During the National Celebration of Pro Bono, over 90 events related to veterans’ services were held.  This year’s initiative was a huge success and demonstrated the commitment of America’s lawyers to pro bono service and veterans legal services.

We encourage you to continue the celebration by planning or participating in services to veterans on or around Memorial Day (May 29) 2017. We will continue efforts to recognize the valuable pro bono contributions of lawyers across the country through a little friendly competition and a social media blitz using the hashtag #ABAServingVeterans.

Submit your videos. The ABA is collecting short, informal videos to spotlight your efforts to support pro bono legal assistance for our nation’s veterans. Please learn more here.

For additional information, please visit www.ambar.org/veterans.

Save the Date!

 Mark your calendars! The 9th Annual National Celebration of Pro Bono will be held October 22-28, 2017.

 Do Good. Do Justice. Do Pro Bono.

 The National Celebration of Pro Bono is sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service. For guidance and resources to improve your pro bono program year-round, contact the Committee’s Center for Pro Bono.

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Could This Simple Idea Solve the Justice Gap?

“On Friday morning last week, a dozen lawyers sitting in cubicles took calls in a downtown Chicago office. A video screen on the wall tracked the activity: 34 people had called in the first hour asking for free legal help. Six callers were waiting in the queue, and the longest waiting time in the queue was 12 minutes and 46 seconds. “Friday usually starts off slow,” said Allen Schwartz, the executive director of CARPLS, which stands for Coordinated Advice and Referral Program for Legal Services. This pioneering legal aid hotline, now in its 23rd year, handled roughly 50,000 free consultations for 28,000 clients last year.”
Read the rest of the article here.
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Raging for Pro Bono: Using Post Election Energy to Recruit Pro Bono Lawyers

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead.

It is no secret that the recent presidential election has invoked a strong reaction from many citizens of our country. Protests have broken out across the country, social media is inundated with groups wondering what they can do, and a new form of donating has hit the scene.  Called “rage donating”, websites are encouraging people who are motivated by the recent presidential elections to donate to non-profits that defend women, Muslim Americans, free speech, immigrants, and people of color.  Donations to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have skyrocketed in just the past week.

How do pro bono programs tap into that energy and encourage attorneys to use pro bono to assist marginalized groups in this country? Now is the time to do it, so organizations who need pro bono attorneys should take advantage of the frustration by reaching out to attorneys to get involved.

If you are interested in reaching attorneys, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms seem to be great starting points. If you are on a Facebook group with attorneys, reach out to them and let them know what pro bono opportunities are available for them.  Come up with a clever hashtag to get people motivated an involved.  For example, the hashtag  #TransLawHelp has been trending on Twitter, and links to the website Translawhelp.org.  Translawhelp.org links users to attorneys around the country who can assist transgender individuals with name and gender marker changes before the new administration takes office.  We suggest using the hashtag #ProBonoNow as a united hashtag that organizations can use to drum up support for pro bono involvement now.  Also, make sure that you are on the ABA Center for Pro Bono website in our directory of programs.  If you need to be added or update your information, contact us at abaprobono@americanbar.org.  Beyond social media, schedule volunteer orientations to train interested attorneys on taking cases with your organization. Or schedule a brown-bag lunch forum for attorneys to come together to discuss pro bono opportunities with your organization and how those opportunities relate to the election outcome.

Remind attorneys that it isn’t only the groups above that need help. Those living in poverty still need help from pro bono attorneys to secure benefits and housing, and to assist in family law cases or protect them from domestic violence.  Non-profit funding could potentially be in danger under a new administration, so remind attorneys that pro bono support is needed in all areas of the law.  Send out emails to your volunteers and encourage them to assist in recruiting other attorneys. If there are group meetups to discuss the election outcomes, go and take the opportunity to talk about your program and how attorneys can contribute pro bono to make a difference!

For volunteer attorneys wondering how to get involved, visit the ABA Center for Pro Bono website. We have a map that connects you to pro bono opportunities in your state.  You can also reach out to groups on Facebook or other social media platforms.  Contact your local bar association, they should know of pro bono efforts in your area.  Or go online to your state’s legal aid or volunteer lawyers program information site if you have one (i.e. Illinois Legal Aid Online).  Those websites typically list volunteer opportunities in the state.  If your time is limited, check out www.ABAFReeLegalAnswers.org – if your state is participating and live, it’s a great way to fit pro bono in to your busy schedule. There are many opportunities to devote your skills to those in need, and now is the time to do it!





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The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) Annual Convention & Policy Meeting was hosted by the Vermont Paralegal Organization (VPO) from October 20, 2016 through October 23, 2016 at the Hilton Hotel in Burlington, Vermont. This year’s annual convention and policy meeting “Paralegals Sweeten Vermont” was attended by delegates of Regions I, II, III, IV and V.

The NFPA Model Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility Guidelines provide that each paralegal should aspire to contribute 24 hours of community service, in addition to 24 hours to pro bono service annually. During the year, paralegals voluntarily report hours via the NFPA Pro Bono/Community Service Hours Reporting Forms to record and report the number of hours contributed to local groups, pro bono agencies, events, associations and organizations.  Local associations may then report these hours to the state and local bar associations, highlighting the valuable contributions paralegals make to the delivery of pro bono legal services and to making access to justice a reality.

On Friday, October 21, 2016, ABA/NFPA Pro Bono Liaison, Christine Flynn, also spoke at each of the NFPA Region Meetings to discuss the Celebration of Pro Bono as well as issues including local pro bono committees, opportunities and goals for 2017 as well as the scheduling of a 2017 NFPA Pro Bono Conference.

On Thursday, October 20, 2016, NFPA honored 30 paralegals from local associations throughout the United States for meeting and/or exceeding the recommended aspirations for completion of pro bono/community service hours. These paralegals received certificates from NFPA.

Following recognition and the presentation of certificates, NFPA also announced the 2016 pro bono award winners as follows:

  • Individual Pro Bono Award, Angela Wilson, Dallas Area Paralegal Association
  • Association Pro Bono Award, Dallas Area Paralegal Association

The award winners received commemorative plaques.


Pictured: Dallas Area Paralegal Association (DAPA) Representatives with Allen F. Mihecoby, CLAS, RP, NFPA Vice President & Director of Professional Development.


ABA/NFPA Pro Bono Liaison, Christine M. Flynn, was also awarded the 2016 William R. Robie Leadership Award. This is the highest award presented annually to recognize a NFPA member in honor of the Honorable William R. Robie and his dedication to the paralegal profession, the expansion of the delivery of legal services and equal access to justice for all Americans.  Christine received a commemorative plaque (pictured below).


Pictured: Lisa Vessels, RP, CP, FRP, NFPA President- 2016 and Christine Flynn, ABA/NFPA Pro Bono Liaison.

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National Celebration of Pro Bono: New Orleans Perspective

Our friend Jenny Rizzo at the Pro Bono Project in New Orleans has written a lovely piece on the legal needs in the city and how legal professionals can volunteer to help. We invite you to read her piece here, and if you have a blog post about the Celebration, please let us know in the Comments below!

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Legal Providers Answer the Call to Serve Veterans

The National Celebration of Pro Bono is taking place October 23-29, 2016. The highlight of the 2016 celebration is the ABA’s Veterans Legal Services Initiative.  Participants in the 2016 celebration are encouraged to host programs focused on pro bono legal services for veterans during Pro Bono Celebration Week.  Legal services providers across the country have responded to the call for veterans’ assistance by scheduling events during the month of October that focus on veterans’ legal needs.

These events include the Stand Down event in Anchorage, AL on October 21. This event provides veterans with legal, medical, housing, and employment assistance.  Veterans wishing to attend the Anchorage Stand Down are even provided with free transportation to and from the event.  Similar events include the Homeless Veteran Stand Down in  Augusta, ME on October 22,  the Central Ohio Homeless Veterans Stand Down Clinic in Columbus, OH on October 18, and the Homeless Veterans Stand Down in Cheyenne in Cheyenne, WY on October, 27.

If you have not yet planned an event around serving veterans, never fear – there is still time. A straightforward event would be to plan a training or CLE around veterans’ issues.  You could even hold a “listening party” for the webinar, effectively Representing the Veteran Client: Legal and Cultural Basics, available here.

These are only a few of the many veterans’ assistance opportunities available during the 2016 Pro Bono Celebration week. Check out the ABA Celebrate Pro Bono website at https://www.probono.net/celebrateprobono/ and click on the Events tab or the Veteran’s Resources tab to find a veteran’s legal services opportunity near you!

For questions regarding the 2016 Celebrate Pro Bono week please contact us at celebrateprobono@americanbar.org.

Posted in Center for Pro Bono, national celebration, Pro bono news | 2 Comments