Pro Bono in Principle and in Practice

180 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2003

Date Written: June 2003


This article provides the first systematic survey of the factors that influence American lawyers' pro bono work. The study includes both a comprehensive review of the literature on altruism in general and bar contributions in particular, as well as responses from a sample of some 3000 attorneys. Three groups of practitioners participated in the survey: lawyers who graduated from six schools that had different approaches to pro bono work; recent individual and law firm winners of the American Bar Association's annual Pro Bono Publico Award; and large law firms for which annual pro bono data are publicly available. The study's findings include information on the backgrounds and pro bono contributions of the responding lawyers, their workplace and law school experiences, and their perceptions concerning influences on public service involvement. These responses, together with other research on charitable participation, suggest changes in workplace and law school culture that can more effectively translate public service principles into professional practices.

Suggested Citation

Rhode, Deborah, Pro Bono in Principle and in Practice (June 2003). Available at SSRN: or

Deborah Rhode (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States
650 723.0319 (Phone)

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