Solving the Pro Bono Mismatch
Posted: 28 Jul 2019 Last revised: 5 Aug 2019
Date Written: February 22, 2019
This article addresses the incongruity between the interests of law firm lawyers and the needs of the poor. The mismatch problem is one of the most important barriers in the delivery of legal services, resulting in the neglect of legal areas where need is greatest. This Article makes three major contributions to the pro bono mismatch literature. First, the Article provides fresh understandings about how the interests of individual lawyers factor into the selection of pro bono matters. Second, the Article offers a much needed and critical exploration of the role of law firm culture on pro bono choice for firms and individual lawyers. Third, the Article adds a new dimension to the literature on how extrinsic factors impact pro bono work. Here, I highlight the role of the political climate on pro bono choice. Using interview-based qualitative research, the Article explores how these factors lead law firm lawyers to presently demand pro bono immigration matters, even while legal need is greatest in housing and family law. This asymmetry has left nonprofit legal services organizations scrambling to find pro bono representation, or relying on very limited resources for poor clients. The Article concludes with proposals to address the pro bono mismatch.
Keywords: legal services, law firms, nonprofit legal services organizations, pro bono
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