(Credit: Anna Godeassi)

The world’s largest law firms spent millions of hours on pro bono in 2016, increasing the amount of time they spent for indigent clients around the globe. Hours continued to tick up last year, but still lag behind pre-recession levels. We look at the themes that emerged in pro bono last year, some of the specific matters, how many hours individual firms performed and what we might see in 2017 when it comes to pro bono efforts.

ANALYSIS

 

Big Law’s Pro Bono Hours Tick Upward
The results of our 2017 Pro Bono Survey show a slow but steady increase in pro bono commitment. But the need for pro bono is likely to grow even faster.

 

17 Pro Bono Matters That Big Law Championed
Am Law 200 firms took on a huge range of pro bono causes in 2016. Here are a few of the most interesting.

 

Q&A: With Legal Services in Trump’s Crosshairs, Its President Speaks Out
James Sandman, president of Legal Services Corp., talks with American Lawyer about how legal aid benefits the justice system, law firms and more than a million low-income clients.

 

When Pro Bono Leads to Conflicts
Some pro bono matters come with too many strings attached.

 

Law Firms That Police the Police
As calls for more accountability in law enforcement have grown, law firms pro bono efforts have stepped up.

 

An Inside View of Getting the Wrongfully Convicted Exonerated
Lawyers from Dechert and the Pennsylvania Innocence Project recount their experience this year helping to free a man incarcerated for 24 years for a murder he allegedly didn’t commit.

 

Must Law Firms’ Good Deeds Be Done for Free?
A consultant argues for a new way to measure how lawyers’ social impact work benefits the community.

 

The Richest Law Firms Do More Pro Bono
Our pro bono data shows that, when it comes to pro bono hours worked, the top quartile of Am Law 200 firms are outperforming the three quartiles that follow them.

 
 

THE CHARTS

» Ranking the Firms
How firms rank nationally, internationally, by average hours per lawyer and by the breadth of their commitment.
 

PLUS

 

For Global Pro Bono, Firms Need a Local Guide
When law firms tackle pro bono projects abroad, collaboration with allies on the ground is crucial.

 

A Note From the Editor
In the last year, pro bono work on some of the most hot-button issues facing our country not only helped those in need, but raised lawyers’ profiles in the court of public opinion. It was cool to be a lawyer.