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Pro Bono

Question One: How to Meet Unmet Needs?

While pro bono programs have proliferated in the past three decades, most legal needs studies say that nearly 80% of the basic legal needs of poor people still remain unmet.  What changes need to be made in the legal services delivery system in order to more significantly use the private bar to meet the legal needs of those who are poor?

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Discussion

4 thoughts on “Question One: How to Meet Unmet Needs?

  1. We have to change the way we think about Pro Bono. We have to leave behind the mindset that assigning a Pro Bono case to a private attorney is asking that attorney to take on a burden. Serving Pro Bono clients is an honor and a privilege. We need to make clear to attorneys that when they are offered Pro Bono work, what they are really getting is the chance, the opportunity, the honor to improve the life of a member of their own community. We are offering a very real chance to make the world better.

    Posted by ehigginsmt | September 8, 2011, 1:53 am
  2. I agree with the above comment. Everyone is overburdened with responsibilities today. Once an attorney takes a pro bono case though, he or she is ususally most grateful for the opportunity of really helping someone. In addition, the attorney has ususally learned a new skill or something about a new practice area. It would be wonderful if all legal communities and bar associations promoted pro bono. I feel fortunate to live in a community where that is the case.

    Posted by Mary M. Connors | September 9, 2011, 12:43 pm
  3. I think that we need to focus more on discrete ways for volunteers to help. Financial and time pressures on the private bar have never been higher. While some lawyers will always be willing to make the larger commitment of time and energy to take on a family law case, there are many more who would be willing to help in smaller ways with particular aspects or phases of a client’s problem. So, I see more potential for growth in limited scope representation than I do in the more traditional all-or-nothing approach. How we deliver that limited scope service also needs to expand from strictly face-to-face service to include more use of video conferencing, guided online document assembly and internet portals like those in Michigan, Minnesota and Tennessee. Lastly, I think that we need to think of volunteer lawyers not as an outside resource to be tapped, but as true partners in an integrated legal aid delivery system.

    Posted by Jeff Brown (@wiprobono) | September 9, 2011, 1:02 pm
  4. Attorneys who are willing to take on pro bono cases for full represenation are very needed and appreciated! We also need to recognize that there is a large pool of attorneys out there who would like to volunteer, but are unable due to job related committments or prohibitions, such as corporate and government lawyers. While it takes some planning, time and effort to put them in place, offering courthouse or other outreach projects can provide attorneys with much needed limited scope representation opportunities. I also believe that effective use of technology can greatly contribute to meeting unmet needs.

    Posted by Cindy Sooter Goble | September 27, 2011, 4:06 pm

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