From the Chair...
Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service
As many of you know, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) recently released a report of its Pro Bono Task Force. The report contains a variety of ideas and recommendations for building stronger pro bono programs within the LSC network and for engaging more lawyers with those pro bono projects. I had the honor of serving as a member of the LSC Pro Bono Task Force and commend the LSC Board for their leadership in addressing the challenge of expanding pro bono service across the profession.
The ABA's Pro Bono Committee recently had the opportunity to meet with the LSC Board to engage in a discussion regarding the Pro Bono Task Force's report. In advance of that meeting we provided the LSC Board with information providing a snapshot of the Committee's mission, major initiatives and extensive resources. We also provided the Board with some preliminary thoughts based on the Pro Bono Committee's review and analysis of the LSC pro bono report.
The Pro Bono Committee communicated to the LSC Board that we welcome their full engagement in fostering pro bono service and, more importantly, we shared with the Board what we identified as major reaction themes developed during our internal conversation. These themes included:
Tap into existing resources.
Many resources and relationships already exist to support pro bono endeavors. As LSC implements its recommendations the Pro Bono Committee hopes that LSC will take advantage of existing capacities so as not to reinvent or duplicate resources. With respect to ABA resources alone, our Center for Pro Bono has since 1980 offered clearinghouse and technical assistance services to LSC grantees and freestanding pro bono programs on all aspects of their structure, governance, funding, operations and administration. Our committee works closely with the National Conference of Bar Presidents and the National Association of Bar Executives in supporting state and local bar efforts to promote pro bono. We have developed ethical guidance for judges on the contributions they can make to foster pro bono, have extensive resources on judicial involvement and support for pro bono and have recently reached out to the Conference of Chief Justices and the National Judicial College as part of our National Pro Bono Summit follow-up.
Coordinate with national organizations.
A number of groups (LSC, ABA, PBI, EJW, NLADA, etc.) are engaged in various efforts to develop new leadership strategies for promoting and expanding pro bono. We believe that an executive summit or some other coordinating event should be convened so that these groups can structure their activities and identify opportunities for collaboration.
Let's work together.
The Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service is eager to work closely with LSC in implementing as appropriate the recommendations of your report. This would include joint efforts on recruitment, training, technical assistance and sharing of intellectual capital. We believe we have much to contribute and that together we can achieve a national rebirth of the pro bono movement.
I am pleased to report that we had a very productive meeting with the LSC Board. As LSC moves to the implementation phase of its Pro Bono Task Force report we are grateful to have been offered the opportunity to participate with them on their implementation working groups, to coordinate with them on developing a national gathering of pro bono leaders, and to share with them the wealth of resources we have developed over the years. When we meet with the LSC Board again, in January of 2014, we anticipate having much to celebrate as the result of our collaborative efforts.