Both to further training and career-enhancing opportunities for young lawyers and provide counsel for Americans unable to afford a lawyer, law firms should seek to integrate pro bono commitments with their business objectives. Lisa Dewey and her colleagues describe the innovative efforts of their firm.
This chapter offers strategies for successfully weaving a strong pro bono culture into the ethos and business strategy of every law firm. It also considers the role that the law firm community should play in responding to this country's access to justice crisis.
DEVELOPING AND MAINTAINING A STRONG PRO BONO PROGRAM
It is easy enough to say that every law firm should have a strong pro bono program, that pro bono should be a part of every law firm's culture, and that pro bono must be treated as part of the firm's core business, not as a sideshow or afterthought. But what are the core building blocks of a strong pro bono program? Using DLA Piper's U.S. program as one example (and we recognize that there are hundreds of other great programs and there is not a one-size-fits-all approach), we discuss how to create a pro bono culture, how it becomes a part of the firm's business plan, and what infrastructure is needed to maintain a pro bono program at a large law firm.
DLA PIPER'S PRO BONO PROGRAM
DLA Piper's pro bono program is situated in a large, global firm. The firm is the product of multiple mergers, dating back to the creation of Piper Rudnick in 1999. As the firm grew, lawyers brought their own tradition of pro bono – and this common culture of service was part of what ultimately made the firm's growth successful. Piper & Marbury, for instance, was a Baltimore-based firm that had created a “branch office” storefront legal clinic in East Baltimore in 1969, staffed by two full-time lawyers from the firm and junior lawyers, many who then became partners, rotated through the clinic. The experience of providing frontline pro bono assistance helped instill an enduring service ethic there.
The pro bono practice expanded to reflect the firm's international scope, and in 1999 DLA Piper created a full-time pro bono position. As the firm grew, so did the U.S. pro bono team, which expanded to include a researcher and four full-time counsels.