March/April 2020


The Marketing Case for Pro Bono

Micah Buchdahl

There must be something about the March/April marketing column in Law Practice that really brings out the good in me. Back in 2013, I delved into the marketing opportunities that can flow from charitable deductions. In 2017, I wrote about how diversity and inclusion has a huge business development upside. It was a presentation at the Law Practice Division Fall Meeting in Portland, Oregon, last October where the lightbulb went on—and I started jotting down notes for March/April 2020—the ancillary marketing value in providing pro bono services.

When I was appointed to the ABA LP Pro Bono & Public Service Committee, at first I was unsure why. Much like many pro bono assignments, they find you. And if you think about it, marketing strategies tied to pro bono activities make perfect sense. Our committee looks beyond traditional pro bono and has developed recurring programs such as collecting socks for those in need for organizations in cities that we visit for ABA LP meetings.

6.1—Voluntary or Mandatory

Depending on the states in which you are licensed, perhaps rendering “public interest legal service” is not at your discretion.  In Pennsylvania, the state where I am licensed, pro bono is voluntary under Rule 6.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. ABA Model Rule 6.1 states that “Every lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay. A lawyer should aspire to render at least (50) hours of pro bono publico legal services per year.”

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