Our Mission and Programs
Who We Are & What We Do:
Pro Bono Net is a national nonprofit organization based in New York City and San Francisco. We work in close partnership with nonprofit legal organizations across the United States and Canada, to increase access to justice for the millions of poor people who face legal problems every year without help from a lawyer. We do this by (i) supporting the innovative and effective use of technology by the nonprofit legal sector, (ii) increasing participation by volunteers, and (iii) facilitating collaborations among nonprofit legal organizations and advocates working on similar issues or in the same region.
Founded in 1999 with a grant from the Open Society Institute, Pro Bono Net has developed a broad base of support from foundations, law firms, corporate sponsors and nonprofit partners alike, to build web platforms that offer powerful and sophisticated online tools to pro bono and legal aid advocates, and to provide critical legal information and assistance directly to the public. Our model has been adopted in 30 states and regions, reaching approximately two-thirds of the poverty population and lawyers in the United States. The prototype of the probono.net site was launched in March 1999, with two practice areas in New York City. The first LawHelp site designed to serve the information needs of the public was launched in New York City in April 2001.
Probono.net is a national, online resource for legal aid and pro bono attorneys, law professors and students, and related social services advocates. The site promotes collaboration and makes it easier for pro bono attorneys to get involved, saving them time and connecting them with opportunities, training events, mentors, and searchable libraries of practice resources they won't find anywhere else. The site is organized by topical "practice areas" and geographic regions, built and maintained by public interest legal organizations and law firms throughout the country. Members include more than 75,000 advocates from hundreds of public interest organizations and private firms.
LawHelp is an online resource that helps low and moderate-income people find free legal aid programs in their communities, answers to questions about their legal rights, court information, links to social service agencies, and more. This resource was built and is maintained in partnership with hundreds of legal aid, pro bono and court-based programs across the country. LawHelp.org was recognized with the 2007 Webby Award for Best Law site.
LawHelp Interactive (www.lawhelpinteractive.org)
Pro Bono Net leads a national effort to provide online legal document assembly for poverty law and court access to justice programs. LawHelp Interactive allows subject matter experts to create interview templates that can be used to assemble court forms and other legal documents based on a user's input. The system increases opportunities for self-represented litigants to achieve justice on their own and improves efficiency for legal aid, pro bono and courts-based access to justice programs. Read a case study about how the NY Courts are using LawHelp Interactive. This project is in collaboration with Ohio State Legal Services Association, with funding by the Legal Services Corporation and the State Justice Institute, and using HotDocs software.
Pro Bono Net received the 2010 InnovAction Award from the College of Law Practice Management in recognition of LawHelp Interactive. The InnovAction Awards recognize outstanding innovation in the delivery of legal services, demonstrating to the legal community what can happen when passionate professionals, with big ideas and strong convictions, resolve to create effective change.
The Immigration Advocates Network (http://www.immigrationadvocates.org)
In 2008, Pro Bono Net partnered with leading national immigration advocacy groups to develop the Immigration Advocates Network (IAN), which works to foster collaboration among those working to increase access to justice for low-income immigrants. Nearly 7,000 nonprofit and pro bono advocates representing every state in the country are IAN members. IAN is driving innovations in technology-enabled service delivery via its Webby-award winning CitizenshipWorks project which provides easy-to-use online tools to help low-income immigrants – and those working to assist them – navigate the naturalization process and Own the Dream and Pocket DACA, which help young immigrants find information about the law, conduct online screenings for eligibility, and prepare applications for DACA.
Pro Bono Manager (www.probono.net/good)
With start-up support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Pro Bono Net has developed a customized, hosted web application to increase law firms' pro bono program management capacity. Operating as a secure, seamless extension of a law firm's intranet, the platform integrates content from the public interest legal community regarding training events, volunteer opportunities and news with powerful reporting, knowledge management and lawyer matching tools that draw on data from the law firm's internal personnel, billing, time keeping and docketing systems.
Pro Bono Manager is currently being used by 10 leading international firms, and is available as a subscription service. Please contact Jessica Stuart for more information.