For the first eight years of this century, The Am Law 200’s pro bono performance traveled in one direction: up. Between 2000 and 2008 average pro bono hours per lawyer swelled by more than 65 percent. Then the recession hit, marking the beginning of a persistent decline. In 2011 average hours fell to the lowest level in more than three years, with the percentage of lawyers who did more than 20 hours of pro bono work plunging to 43.5. Today, the future of pro bono looks a whole lot murkier than it did just a few years ago. While a recovering economy could lift pro bono work back to boomtime levels, it’s just as likely that changes in law firm staffing and an increasing fixation on cost control could depress pro bono hours for years. At the same time, innovative uses of technology and partnerships with clients could amplify firms’ efforts—a textbook case of doing more with less.
Previous Pro Bono Report coverage :: 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007
Changes in the law firm business model will affect pro bono. That might not be a bad thing.
In the past decade, the notion of law firm public service has
spread far and wide.
Lawyers from White & Case’s London office work to
clear a man’s name in a 30-year-old murder case.
The nation’s 200 highest-grossing law firms, ranked by their pro bono score.
Comparing the pro bono performance of Am Law 100 firms to that of Second Hundred firms, tracking the average number of hours per lawyer that firms have committed to pro bono over time, and more.