CHICAGO -- Helping lawyers find opportunities for meaningful pro bono work in their communities is the goal of a project jointly sponsored by the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, the ABA Center for Pro Bono and Pro Bono Net.
The National Pro Bono Opportunities Guide, available at www.volunteerforprobono.org, provides listings of more than 1,100 programs from across the United States that need volunteer lawyers. Through the directory's convenient search option, lawyers can find programs based on location, area of law, the population served and CLE credits for training or service. Users can also pinpoint projects that require their skills and experience with features highlighting opportunities for transactional lawyers, litigators, law students and others.
"Serving the public good has always been an integral part of the legal profession," said ABA President Karen J. Mathis. "By making it easier for lawyers to identify pro bono opportunities – whether domestic violence, elder law, immigration, custody, housing, or other cases, we can begin to respond to the challenge of providing assistance to Americans of limited means whose legal needs are unmet."
Although there had been hard copies of pro bono directories, the three sponsors identified a need for a Web-based pro bono guide that would offer current information while allowing lawyers to quickly locate an opportunity that meets their time, skills and location.
Because the list is interactive, state and local bar associations as well as community-based nonprofits can add or update information to ensure the list is current and accurate. This national guide leverages a network of regional content partners.
"This collaboration achieves a perfect mix of local and national strengths, harnessing the national reach of the ABA and Pro Bono Net's powerful online tools to support the needs of a diverse network of organizations serving the legal needs of communities across the country," said Pro Bono Net Executive Director Mark O'Brien.
With more than 413,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law in a democratic society.
Pro Bono Net (PBN) is a national nonprofit organization based in New York City that works to increase access to justice for the millions of low income people who face legal problems every year without help from a lawyer. Founded in 1998 with support from the Open Society Institute, PBN has created a broad and powerful network of nonprofit legal aid providers, courts and bar associations across the United States. This network uses two innovative web-based platforms – www.probono.net and www.lawhelp.org, for which Pro Bono Net received a 2007 Webby Award for Best Law Website – to recruit and manage volunteers to provide direct information and tools for low-income communities and the organizations that serve them. The development of this online tool was underwritten by PBN's Corporate Sponsors Council, which includes ALM, Case Central, Epiq Systems, Ibis Consulting and Interwoven.