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Lawyers who do pro bono work are influenced by expectations, pressures and incentives from the places where they work, not by their own good will, according to a study published in the current issue of Law and Society Review, “The Meaning of Pro Bono: Institutional Variations in Professional Obligation.” The study, conducted by Robert Granfield, professor and chair of University of Buffalo’s Sociology Department, used data obtained from 474 attorneys who graduated from three law different law schools — all schools that had mandatory pro bono programs. “Different communities of practice in the legal profession — small firms, large firms, solo practice, for instance — produce variations in professional identity and consciousness, some of which support pro bono work and some of which do not, and that these influence the pro bono attitudes of members of the community in question,” Granfield said. Small firms lawyers or solo practitioners perform pro bono, but are constrained by limited resources and they do not support mandatory pro bono proposals as much as lawyers in larger firms do, the study showed. In-house attorneys do not engage often in volunteer work in general, and also do not support pro bono and proposals for mandatory pro bono work. These lawyers perform pro bono work least often. Other findings of the study show: • Male respondents are more likely than women to believe that too much emphasis is placed on volunteer work in the profession • Non-white respondents are significantly more likely than their white counterparts to report that they benefit from pro bono work they perform through enhancement of legal skills and enabling client contacts • Non-white respondents tended to regard pro bono as a way to give something back to their community and less likely than whites to believe too much emphasis is placed on pro bono within the legal profession.

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