Center for Pro Bono

Publications

Pro Bono Exchange

Visit the Center for Pro Bono's blog to read about innovative models of pro bono delivery, members of the pro bono community, insights on pro bono participation, messages from the Chair of the Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, and more. 

If you would like to contribute to the blog, please contact Marissa LaVette.

Standards For Programs Providing Civil Pro Bono Legal Services To Persons of Limited Means

Organized Pro Bono programs have existed in the United States for over a century, and provide options for those who may not have access to legal services.  The number of pro bono programs is continually increasing however, not all pro bono programs succeed and are effective. Due the changing nature and the multiple types of Pro Bono programs the Standards for Programs Providing Civil Pro Bono Legal Services to Persons of Limited Means provides guidance on the necessary elements of an effective pro bono program.   This includes, becoming effective and efficient in finding volunteers, meeting the clients’ needs, and providing high quality service for volunteer lawyers and clients.

The Standards have been crafted specifically for programs and components of programs which provide free civil legal services to persons of limited means through the use of volunteers. Even though this book is specific based, many other pro bono models can benefit from the standards and guidance this resource provides. This publication offers the “black letter” Standards adopted by the ABA House of Delegates in 2013 as well as updated commentary and practical resources for implementing the Standards.

Whether your program is new or already established, the Standards for Programs Providing Civil Pro Bono Legal Services to Persons of Limited Means provides the necessary tools to create a successful, effective, and efficient program.

White Paper on 50-Hour Admission Requirement

The ABA’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service is pleased to release a white paper concerning New York’s 50-hour mandatory pro bono admission requirement and its potential application in other states.  We’ll continue to monitor and revise this report as further developments occur across the country.  Please direct any updates in your state to Steve Scudder.

Consortium for the Advancement of Public Service in Law Schools (CAPSILS)

Public Services Resource Handbook

The Consortium for the Advancement of Public Service in Law Schools (CAPSILS) – which consists of representatives from AALS, the , Equal Justice Works, and NALP – has released a 2010 version of its Law School Public Service Resource Handbook. The Handbook is a free resource for law school career services professionals and pro bono program administrators. It is geared specifically as a resource for those who are new to public interest career counseling and pro bono administration. It offers useful tips from experienced professionals and points newer professionals to the many resources that are available to them through the , AALS, Equal Justice Works, NALP, PSLawNet, and elsewhere. It is a terrific complement to NALP’s more comprehensive Law School Guide to Public Interest Careers.

Public Service Resource Handbook

On October 22nd, 2009, the Consortium for the Advancement of Public Service in Law Schools (CAPSILS) released its inaugural Law School Public Service Resource Handbook . The handbook provides a user-friendly overview and resources for new (and not so new) law school faculty and staff who support pro bono and public interest programs and curricula. CAPSILS is a national working group formed to foster dialogue among the organizations in the law school pro bono and public interest arenas, including the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service and the Center for Pro Bono; the American Association of Law Schools Section on Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities; Equal Justice Works; and the National Association for Law Placement and its PSLawNet Public Service Career Center. The Handbook is available online. For further information on CAPSILS or the Handbook , please contact the Center for Pro Bono.

Supporting Justice Series

Supporting Justice IV: A Report on the Pro Bono Work of America's Lawyers (April 2018)

Supporting Justice III: A Report on the Pro Bono Work of America's Lawyers (March 2013)

Supporting Justice II: A Report on the Pro Bono Work of America's Lawyers (February 2009)

Supporting Justice: A Report on the Pro Bono Work of America's Lawyers (August 2005)

Rural Pro Bono Delivery: A Guide to Pro Bono Legal Services in Rural Areas

This guide is designed as a resource for legal services providers, bar associations and volunteer lawyer programs looking for ways to serve clients in rural areas and strengthen the support system for the advocates who help rural clients. It contains much useful information, including an analysis of the barriers to rural legal services delivery, examples of strategies that have been used successfully by many projects, and links to other rural resources.

The ABC Manual: Starting and Operating a Business Law Pro Bono Project

This manual was designed to inspire and assist business lawyers to replicate the success of probono business entities highlighted in the manual in their own states or locales. 

Beyond the Myths: Get the Facts about Dispute Resolution

This brochure published by the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution identifies the most common myths and barriers to the use of mediation for low income disputants The brochure addresses nine common myths or misconceptions held by legal services and pro bono practitioners. The subjects addressed range from issues such as whether mediation is a fair means of dispute resolution for low income disputants, including those with domestic violence issues, to the ability to enforce mediation agreements.

BLUEPRINT for Constructing a Pro Bono Project in a Mid-Sized Law Firm

A how-to manual that contains tips for mid-sized law firms in developing pro bono policies and projects.

How to Begin a Pro Bono Program in Your Bankruptcy Court: A Starter Kit for Lawyers and Judges

This free on-line publication was developed by the ABA Business Law and Litigation Sections. The Starter Kit assists lawyers, judges, bar associations and pro bono advocates create new bankruptcy pro bono projects in their jurisdiction. The Starter Kit emphasizes the importance of mobilizing the local bankruptcy bar and bankruptcy judges. This publication provides information about the critical components of a bankruptcy pro bono program, description of successful projects, helpful tips on a host of operational issues, and plenty of success stories.

How to Utilize Legal Assistants in Pro Bono Publico Programs

This publication from the Standing Committee on Legal Assistants encourages the utilization of legal assistants in pro bono public law programs that provide legal services to those who cannot afford to hire an attorney. Legal assistants volunteering in pro bono efforts are subject to the same laws, rules, and ethical considerations that apply to legal assistants in employment situations.

Directory of Law School Public Interest and Pro Bono Programs

The Directory of Law School Public Interest and Pro Bono Programs is designed to assist prospective law students interested in public interest and pro bono programs find the law school that best matches their interests and to assist individual law schools seeking to develop strong pro bono and public interest programs.

Making a Connection and a Difference with America's Youth: a Service Guide for Lawyers

A special publication of the ABA Commission on Youth at Risk and the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, in partnership with the Legal Marketing Association and LexisNexis, this guide focuses on programs for youth aged 13 – 21 run by bar associations or programs with significant bar involvement and describes ways that attorneys can devote time and expertise to helping youth avoid delinquent acts. 

Making Pro Bono A Priority: A Bar Leader's Handbook

A guidebook for bar leaders that discusses models through which bar associations can play an integral role in the delivery of legal services to the poor. The Handbook includes examples of the specific application of these models around the country, along with contact names and phone numbers.

Manual for Pro Bono and Legal Services Dispute Resolution Programs

This ABA Section of Dispute Resolution publication has the tools pro bono and legal services programs need to design a mediation program. The manual provides governing boards, chief executives and mediation program administrators the information needed to start a new program or to strengthen an existing program. It covers the benefits of mediation, how to design a program, the financial resources needed and where to find them, staffing the program, the recruitment of appropriate volunteer mediators, the screening and processing of cases, and sample forms and training tools.

The Path to Pro Bono: An Interviewing Tool for Law Students

The Pro Bono Committee and the Center for Pro Bono have developed this brochure to assist law students in assessing a law firm's commitment to pro bono. Although primarily designed for students participating in on-campus interviewing with large firms, the brochure is also a good tool for those students pursuing careers with small and mid-size firms and corporate in-house legal departments. To inquire about receiving bulk copies while supplies last, please contact Center for Pro Bono Staff.

Pro Bono Clients: Strategies for Success

This brochure is available to pro bono programs for distribution to volunteer attorneys. The brochure outlines eight tips to help attorneys understand and effectively serve their pro bono clients. It also identifies resources for further reading on the topic of working with low-income populations.

Pro Bono Connection Archive

The Pro Bono Connection, a publication of the ABA Center for Pro Bono, is archived with past editions available here.

Pro Bono Project Development: A Deskbook for Government and Public Sector Lawyers

This publication is a joint project of the Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division and the Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service to: (1) encourage greater government attorney participation in pro bono, and (2) assist government offices and pro bono programs to create effective policies and projects. The manual guides managing government attorneys, pro bono practitioners, and project coordinators through the issues that impact a government attorney pro bono project. The manual also includes many examples of federal, state, and local policies and procedures that will provide the foundation for successful projects.

Rural Pro Bono Delivery: A Guide to Pro Bono Legal Services in Rural Areas

This guide is designed as a resource for legal services providers, bar associations and volunteer lawyer programs looking for ways to serve clients in rural areas and strengthen the support system for the advocates who help rural clients. It contains much useful information, including an analysis of the barriers to rural legal services delivery, examples of strategies that have been used successfully by many projects, and links to other rural resources.

Senior Lawyers Organizing & Volunteering: A National Profile

This is a joint publication of the ABA Senior Lawyers Division and the Center for Pro Bono includes information on topics such as organizing at the state and local level, developing pro bono projects, emeritus attorney rules, reduction or waiver of bar fees and dues, and much more.

The Kids in Building 160

The Kids in Building 160 is a series of children’s books created by author Jo S. Kittinger and illustrator Chuck GaleyA Breath of Hope (ABA Publishing, 2012; Spanish Ed., ABA Publishing, 2013) and Helping a Hero (ABA Publishing, 2013). The concept was developed by Anthony H. Barash, a former Director of the ABA Center for Pro Bono (2005-2009) and a Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow (2010), to advance the mission of legal literacy as a tool of self-empowerment for those who are unable to afford legal assistance in times of need. The Kids in Building 160, though children’s books, do not offer an unambiguous “happy ending.” That is not the world in which the children and families coping with the circumstances described in these books live. Rather, they offer a promising beginning, enabled by self-empowered kids who can make a difference in their families’ lives.