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have no idea how it got started, but one of the most available and effective
forms of corporate social responsibility are pro bono legal services for
charities. I was reminded of this because of the American Bar Assocation's
National Celebration of Pro Bono last week. If your charity needs legal services it’s actually
reasonably easy to find free pro bono help.
OK, I do know that lawyers in the U.S are
encouraged under American Bar Association rules to contribute at least fifty
hours of pro bono service per year to individuals or charities who are unable
to afford legal services. Many law firms do much more pro bono work than 50
hours. TechSoup has had an ongoing relationship with the famous Silicon Valley law
firm, Cooley LLP for several years.
president of finance, John McDermott says that Cooley has been a steadfast pro
bono legal partner for TechSoup over the years, providing us with much needed
legal services and in the process saving us hundreds of thousands of dollars. Julie
Pietrantoni, an associate attorney in the Technology Transactions Practice
Group at Cooley, is a longtime TechSoup Global board member. In 2012, 466 Cooley attorneys
contributed over 33,000 hours to pro bono cases. The Legal Aid Society of San
Diego honored Cooley as their "Law
Firm of the Year" for its commitment to pro bono work.
bono is a shortened form of the Latin term “pro bono publico,” or for the
public good, and is also gaining traction in the professional fields of
architecture, marketing, medicine, IT (for instance hackathons), and strategy
Foundation is a U.S. charity taking the lead in developing this form of
corporate social responsibility. Their Service Grant Program makes grants of
professional consulting services, delivered pro bono by a team of business
professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to help nonprofits in the
Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington DC metro
areas. They offer this help to charities in the field of marketing, HR,
financial management, IT, strategic consulting, and board development. Find out
more about how to participate in Taproot Foundation’s service grant program here.
Bar Association’s Find Legal Help service hosts a site for locating free
legal services. This one looks most useful for charities trying to find legal
services for clients.
Probonomatch.org is a project of the Silicon Valley Campaign
for Legal Services. It is mainly a service for lawyers interested in doing pro
bono work, but their SCCBA Pro Bono Resources page has a great set of links to pro bono
resources that I didn’t see anywhere else – services like the Pro Bono Institute at Georgetown
University and Corporate Pro Bono that provides
resources for in-house corporate counsel seeking to do pro bono work.
In the U.S., many if not most local bar
associations may have pro bono programs and/or referral services. A good
example is the Milwaukee
Bar Association’s pro bono directory and also the Virginia Bar
Association’s Pro Bono Resource Center. There also great local referral
services like Law Works in Philadelphia,
which is a hub for pro bono legal services. It offers free legal assistance, a
mediation service, electronic advice, and fact sheets on employment law,
corporate structure, charity law, intellectual property, tax and property.
might try your state's
nonprofit association. Many of them offer referral services to pro bono or
discounted rate attorneys, accountants, and other nonprofit consultants.
is a U.S. and Canadian lawyer matching service. It maintains a listing of
lawyers that specialize in working with nonprofits. It isn’t clear to me on
their site how to determine which ones do pro bono work, but it’s a place to
start. They also offer a free online service where you can ask legal questions.
Their listings are pretty good in that they list lawyers in specific cities
that you can contact.
LegalMatch is another free U.S. lawyer
matching service that lets you search for lawyers by location and also topic
(e.g. employment, intellectual property, business law etc). Once you locate a
promising lawyer, you’d need to each lawyers about their pro bono services.
TrustLaw Connect is
the Thomson Reuters Foundation's global pro
bono legal matching service that connects NGOs and social enterprises with the
best law firms around the world. The service is now in 145 countries. It is no
cost for charities and NGOs to join. It has an extensive lawyer network.
The way it works is that you’d take the TrustLaw online eligibility quiz,
then complete an online application form. Once approved, you’d then send a legal requests
through their electronic platform. They will help you refine each request
before it is shared with the lawyers. Law firms indicate their interest via
their online matching platform and you’d then choose a firm among the offers
received to work with. TrustLaw is looking for charities that are at least
three years old and a registered charity in their respective country.
i-Probono is another free worldwide pro
bono online matching service. It is a nonprofit online network connecting organizations
in need of legal assistance with lawyers and also law students. The way it
works is that charities, lawyers and students register on the site and create
their profiles. Charities register as well and become members. You can then
post your projects. i-Probono searches the database to provide a list of
suitable matches from the network. Once these matches are generated, members
can choose to connect with each other.
you have leads to pro bono services not mentioned in this, I hope you’ll use
the comments section below to add them to the mix.
two: Taproot Foundation