In response to growing interest in community impact, ESG, and DEI, law firms and companies all across the country are launching pro bono programs for the first time this year. Below are 10 tried and true tips from leading pro bono teams that will set up a new program for success:

  1. Make pro bono work part of the firm culture: Foster a firm culture that values and encourages pro bono work, with senior leadership actively promoting and participating in pro bono efforts.
  2. Designate pro bono coordinators: Appoint at least two team members to serve as pro bono coordinators. These coordinators should provide guidance for folks looking to get involved, manage program administration, and have resources available for the team.
  3. Set pro bono goals: Set specific goals around the number of pro bono hours that attorneys and legal professionals should aim to complete each year. Bonus: offer billable credit for them!
  4. Offer regular support and training: Provide attorneys with training and support to help them take on pro bono work, such as mentoring from experienced pro bono attorneys, on-site trainings and CLE credits, and partnerships with local legal services organizations.
  5. Promote pro bono work through internal channels: Use internal communications (like Paladin or an intranet site) to highlight available opportunities, share internal resources or trainings, and celebrate recent wins.
  6. Encourage team-based pro bono work: Encourage attorneys to work on pro bono cases as part of a team, which can help build camaraderie and support while also increasing impact.
  7. Integrate pro bono work into professional development: Encourage attorneys to view pro bono work as a valuable part of their professional development and career advancement.
  8. Make pro bono work accessible: Make it easy for volunteers to take on pro bono work by offering flexible scheduling or credit for work done outside of work hours.
  9. Tie pro bono to DEI or ESG initiatives: Form partnerships with community organizations that are aligned with broader DEI and ESR goals to tie together initiatives and garner cross-departmental support.
  10. Recognize and reward pro bono work: Recognize volunteers who complete pro bono work through formal recognition programs, bonuses, and other rewards.

For more ideas, or to leverage Paladin’s platform to help set up and scale your program, visit our Contact Us page!

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Kristen Sonday

Kristen is the Co-Founder and CEO at Paladin. As a first generation-college Princeton graduate, Kristen first witnessed how complicated our judicial system is to navigate while at the U.S. Department of Justice conducting international criminal work in Mexico and Central America. As one of the few Latinos on the team, she saw the immense value of having an advocate with you throughout the legal process, which inspired her to want to build something to increase access for those in diverse communities. After DOJ, she joined the Founding Team of YC-backed Grouper, where she learned how to build a startup from the ground up. In addition to Paladin, Kristen Co-Chairs the Legal Services Corporation’s Emerging Leaders Council and is a partner at LongJump, investing in overlooked founders in the Chicago area.

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