“The Year Ahead In Pro Bono”
Pro bono activity should continue to be vigorous in 2014, as the pro bono commitment by large law firms remains markedly above the norm just a decade ago. According to data from the American Lawyer, the largest 200 law firms in the United States have for the past five years reported devoting in excess of 4.8 million hours to pro bono service in the aggregate, well above the 3.3 million hours reported in 2003 (the high-water mark at the time). Despite the economic changes in the legal market, there is every reason to believe that this level of pro bono work is sustainable.
But the numbers are not the whole story. Five million hours of pro bono cannot fill the justice gap. Though law firm pro bono hours have increased over the last five years, the estimated percentage of legal needs for low-income Americans that remains unmet has held steady at 80 percent. As such, real progress will evolve through more creative delivery of legal services to the most vulnerable members of our communities.