During this troubled economy, there has been a notable increase in the number of lawyers in the United States volunteering to work pro bono with legal aid organizations -- a trend likely to be mirrored in other countries. Some of these recent volunteers, however, have no experience in dealing with loss of public benefits, evictions, discriminatory practices, and comparable issues that low income, legal aid clients generally confront. Instead, they are transactional lawyers experienced in finance, security laws, tax matters etc.
The problem of matching pro bono lawyers with deserving organizations that are in need of their skills is handled in São Paulo, Brazil, by the Instituto Pro Bono. This facility acts as a 'clearing house' in pro bono matters, assisting NGOs and other non-profit organizations find qualified attorneys for civil, criminal, and labor law issues.
In Washington DC, the Community Economic Development Project matches community based non-profits with law firms that can best address their business and transactional requirements.
The Pro bono and Access to Justice Committee leadership invites comments identifying additional clearing house facilities to which it can refer members for assistance in finding suitable pro bono projects.
Posted by Patricia Blair
IBA Pro bono and Access to Justice Committee