Don't Do it Alone: A Community-Based, Collaborative Approach to Pro Bono
30 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2009 Last revised: 24 Sep 2015
Date Written: November 20, 2009
As discussions are taking place in every corner of the legal profession – the ABA, state bar associations, legal services programs, law firms, and law schools – about how to engage more lawyers in pro bono work, there is a growing call for innovative collaborative approaches to the delivery and expansion of pro bono legal service which may provide a more supportive and satisfying framework for lawyers, clients, and the community. Collaborative models seek to complement the traditional individualized one attorney-one case model, with an alternative model that forms strategic alliances among community-based organizations, law students and lawyers in order to leverage the resources of each partner. This article traces recent commentary on the need for expanded pro bono service, the barriers that prevent some lawyers from taking on pro bono matters and suggestions for overcoming those barriers. It then describes the development of the Pro Bono Collaborative, a three-way partnership model created by Roger Williams University School of Law in 2004, to expand service to low-income clients and communities, engage law firms in pro bono projects in community-based organizations, and educate law students about the ethic of pro bono service. This collaborative model highlights both the benefits and challenges of a collaborative model of pro bono legal service.
This article was first presented at New York University School of Law’s Dwight D. Opperman Institute of Judicial Administration’s Research Conference on Access to Civil Justice: Empirical Perspectives, held on November 14 & 15, 2008. The article will be published in 23 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 323 (2010). It will also be published with the proceedings of the Research Conference on Access to Civil Justice at a later date.
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