Law Firm Pro Bono

Law Firm Pro Bono Policies

PBLA works with law firms in Alberta to help firms engage in the process of creating a law firm pro bono policy. PBLA recognizes the commitment and the tradition that Alberta's lawyers and law firms have in providing pro bono legal services in a variety of ways. A law firm pro bono policy assists law firms to formalize and track this commitment. PBLA also assists law firms to develop specific pro bono projects.

PBLA has developed a pro bono best practice guide entitled "Investing in Pro Bono: A Best Practice Guide for Pro Bono Legal Services by Law Firms." The Best Practice Guide contains appendices of sample templates of pro bono policies for small, medium and large firms. The guide is available in Word format which can be easily modified and adapted to specific law firm needs. Contact the PBLA office for an electronic copy of the sample policy templates.

Law firm pro bono policies are significant because they provide firms with the opportunity to:

1) Institutionalize pro bono participation as part of a firm's day-to-day culture;

2) Transform pro bono ad hoc delivery to organized delivery, which in turn enables firms to make better use of their resources and serve more clients; and

3) Develop administrative guidelines that acknowledge the value of pro bono activities and signify the commitment to pro bono work by these firms, encourage all staff to participate, and ensure that both fee-paying clients and pro bono clients receive consistent service.

Several law firms in Alberta have developed or are in the process of developing a pro bono policy including:

Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP
Burnet Duckworth and Palmer LLP
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP
McCarthy Tétrault LLP

Law Firm Pro Bono Projects

One of PBLA's roles is to broker pro bono projects with law firms and community organizations. PBLA matches community organizations with a client base in need of legal support with an interested law firm partner, resulting in exciting volunteer opportunities for solicitors and litigators. Through these partnerships, firms can bring the full range of their resources and expertise to the assistance of its client organizations. Partnerships provide a unique opportunity for firms to develop relationships with organizations that help low income and disadvantaged communities and assist in community economic development.

At the development stage for these partnerships, PBLA facilitates a meeting between the organization and the firm to clearly delineate the parameters and expectations of the pro bono relationship, including best practices and memoranda of understanding.

Developing and implementing a law firm pro bono project:

To develop a law firm project for your firm, these are the suggested steps to take:
1. Develop a written pro bono policy
2. Commit to a leadership pledge (eg. partners commit to 25 hours of pro bono service per year)
3. Establish a Pro Bono Committee
4. Work with PBLA to identify a project for the firm and work out specific details
5. Promote the new initiative to your staff
6. Make use of PBLA's online resources and coordination support

If your firm is interested in developing pro bono policies and/or implementing a pro bono project, please contact us.