We are the country’s leading access to justice innovator with a 25-year history of impact. Learn about our origins and key milestones in our history.
Founded New York City at the dawn of the Internet era, Pro Bono Net was created by two pro bono leaders at large law firms who recognized the potential of emerging technology to coordinate pro bono lawyers working for good. Our flagship site, probono.net/ny, was launched that year to enhance collaboration and promote pro bono among New York City’ legal community.
A year after its founding, Pro Bono Net launched LawHelp.org/NY, a groundbreaking initiative to expand access to legal rights information and referrals for the public. Since 2000, the probono.net and LawHelp programs incubated in New York have been adopted in nearly 30 states, territories and Canadian provinces.
In 2005 Pro Bono Net assumed management of LawHelp Interactive, the first initiative in the country designed to help nonprofit legal aid organizations and their clients quickly and easily fill out critical legal forms online. Under Pro Bono Net’s leadership, and with support from the Legal Services Corporation and Ohio State Legal Services Association, LHI has has grown into a robust national program serving poverty law and court access to justice programs in more than 40 states.
In partnership with legal aid programs in Montana and Iowa, Pro Bono Net launched in the first LiveHelp online chat programs in the country help low income and vulnerable individuals find trusted information about their legal rights and services in their local communities. Pro Bono Net has supported the successful replication of this model with partners in 12 states, which combined now serve more than 40,000 people a year through LiveHelp.
With support from The Gates Foundation, Pro Bono Net launched Pro Bono Manager in 2007, the country’s first practice management tool engineered to help leading law firms do more good. Developed as an earned-income initiative, the service plays a key role in helping law firms manage, promote and grow their pro bono program.
In 2008, Pro Bono Net collaborated with leading immigrants' rights groups around the country to create Immigration Advocates Network (IAN). From its roots as a single destination for advocates supporting immigrants, IAN has grown to include programs serving immigrants themselves and the community organizations that serve them.
PBN has greatly expanded our reach and networks by partnering with leading civil legal aid organizations, immigrants rights groups, pro bono programs, courts, law firms and community-based allies across the country to adopt our tools to increase access to justice. Few in the justice sector are working at this scale, and no other technology innovations reach so deeply into the field.