Pro bono legal work was once the sole province of law firms. But no more. Now that terrain is increasingly being inhabited by in-house legal departments, too, according to Esther Lardent, president and CEO of the Pro Bono Institute. “What we’ve seen over the last decade is this amazing growth,” Lardent said. “It’s like a quiet revolution.”

Back in 2000, the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) approached the Pro Bono Institute, which has traditionally liaised with law firms, about teaming up. That led to the creation of a joint endeavor aimed at in-house counsel — the Corporate Pro Bono Project. They have since worked with 450 different legal departments, Lardent said, (although not all of the departments have a formally designated pro bono program). And more than 100 legal departments have signed onto a voluntary pro bono pledge, called the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge.

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