Partnership between in-house law departments and outside law firms on pro bono projects is a trend that continues to build momentum. Both of these groups have found value in taking on projects together, and legal services organizations can also benefit from facilitating collaboration. Here are three key benefits pro bono collaboration can bring to LSOs:

  1. Strengthens relationships with law firms.
    As Ben Weinberg, Pro Bono Partner at Dentons, likes to say, “Pro bono is the new golf.” It’s a big win for practice group leaders to partner with corporate clients on pro bono projects. The Thomson Reuters Foundation Index of Pro Bono 2022 Report noted that when asked why the firm does pro bono, 38% selected “alignment with interests of client” as a reason. By providing ways for law firms and in-house teams to work together on pro bono, legal services organizations  strengthen relationships with firms. It also provides a touchpoint for volunteers to connect with your cause and impact, and opens the door for future projects and support from the firm.
  2. Expands volunteer networks and grows engagement.
    Facilitating pro bono work between a firm’s lawyers and their corporate clients is a powerful tool for pro bono recruitment. Collaborative opportunities provide an opening to engage law firm attorneys who don’t typically take on pro bono – and help you connect with in-house lawyers you may not otherwise have reached.Corporate collaboration projects are also inherently team-based, making them more accessible to volunteers than a typical pro bono opportunity. Attorneys who may have been hesitant to take on one of your projects alone can build knowledge and familiarity with a collaborative opportunity, preparing them to confidently take on an independent project down the road. Working on pro bono cases as a team helps create camaraderie and foster a positive experience for the volunteer, giving them more reasons to come back and volunteer with your organization again.
  3. Builds volunteer capacity
    Pro bono attorneys can become long-term volunteers, ambassadors, and supporters of your organization. Pro bono engagement can serve as a valuable part of an attorney’s professional development and career advancement. For in-house attorneys who may focus on a narrow area of law, or for law firm associates who would have to wait years to do higher-level billable work, pro bono projects can be a valuable opportunity to get exposed to new subject matter, build client management skills, gain courtroom experience, and more. Through their engagement with your organization, pro bono attorneys are developing expertise that can be impactful for future pro bono work, as well as building investment in your organization and your cause.

Paladin’s New Corporate Collaboration Functionality

Tech tools to facilitate corporate collaboration have been a perennial request from Paladin’s law firm clients, and we’re excited to launch the first phase of a new sharing functionality in support of this important pro bono model.

“We’ve seen a big uptick in legal services organizations, law firms, and corporate teams all partnering on pro bono initiatives, and I can’t think of a better way to bring the legal community together. By reaching and engaging more volunteers with diverse skill sets, we can work together to help even more people in need,” says Kristen Sonday, Co-Founder and CEO at Paladin.

Legal services organizations on Paladin can now allow their law firm partners to share opportunity listings directly with corporate clients, saving time for law firm pro bono teams and expanding the reach of pro bono projects. LSOs can choose which of their listings to make shareable, maintaining oversight of pro bono opportunity distribution while leveraging Paladin’s intelligent referral automations and expanded volunteer network.

We extend our thanks to the legal service professionals who generously gave of their time and expertise to inform our development of this new tool. We asked them to share a bit about the impact that corporate collaboration has had on their pro bono programs:

“In the past two years, Human Rights First has significantly increased its collaboration with corporations to provide legal services to refugees. Through those experiences, we have witnessed the tremendous impact that corporations can have in partnership with legal service providers,” said Jenna Gilbert, Director of Refugee Representation at Human Rights First. “Not only is it a way to leverage the talent of in-house lawyers and other professionals, but it is a way for corporations and their employees to do good in the world and engage in volunteerism as an expression of their values.”

“NVLSP’s Lawyers Serving Warriors® pro bono project greatly values the collaboration of corporate legal partners to assist veterans in accessing the disability benefits they so rightfully deserve,“ shared Erin Mee, Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney at National Veterans Legal Services Program. “NVLSP is able to help many more veterans and servicemembers through our pro bono partnerships with corporations.”

“By partnering law firms and in-house legal departments on pro bono projects, we have had tremendous success in engaging new volunteers and increasing our capacity to serve clients,” said Rachel Spears, Executive Director at Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta. “Many of the first-time volunteers on our partnering projects go on to become regular volunteers on projects of their own. This is particularly true of in-house attorneys, who may feel more comfortable taking on that first project knowing that they have a law firm (with additional staff and resources) involved.”

We’re excited to see the possibilities of law firm-corporate collaboration continue to grow, and to further leverage Paladin’s tools to facilitate this impactful pro bono model.

Ilana Flemming Bio Picture

Ilana Flemming

Ilana is passionate about increasing access to justice and empowering attorneys to engage with meaningful pro bono work. Prior to joining Paladin, she was a staff attorney at Cabrini Green Legal Aid, where she worked with major law firms to develop, implement, and manage pro bono programs. After graduating from The George Washington University Law School, Ilana worked in non-profit policy advocacy, advocating on Capitol Hill for laws that improve the health and safety of women.

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