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For Immediate Release

Contact:            Pam Weisz, Pro Bono Net
            Phone: (212) 760-2554 x485 E-mail: pweisz@probono.net


Nonprofit Promotes Professionalism Through Volunteer Service

New York (June 16, 2008)Pro Bono Net, a national nonprofit dedicated to increasing access to justice, was selected as one of three winners of this year’s American Bar Association (ABA) E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Awards.

The E. Smythe Gambrell Awards recognize projects contributing to the understanding of professionalism among lawyers. The awards are presented annually by the ABA Standing Committee on Professionalism.  The presentation of this year’s awards will take place on August 8 in New York City, in conjunction with the ABA Annual Meeting.

Pro Bono Net works to increase access to justice through innovative uses of technology and increased volunteer lawyer participation.  Founded in 1998 by pro bono leaders from two major national law firms, Pro Bono Net has created a broad and powerful network of nonprofit legal aid providers, courts and bar associations that are collaborating through technology to serve the public good. 

Nearly 50,000 lawyers, law students and related professionals are members of Pro Bono Net’s flagship portal site for attorneys (www.probono.net), which 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.  Other Pro Bono Net programs include Lawhelp.org, a site that helps low and moderate-income people find free legal aid programs in their communities, answers to questions about their legal rights, court information and more; and Pro Bono Manager, a customized, hosted web application to increase law firms’ pro bono program management capacity.

“We are delighted that the ABA has highlighted the critical role that pro bono service plays in defining a lawyer’s professional responsibility,” said Mark O’Brien, Executive Director and co-founder of Pro Bono Net.   “The award is also a testament to our legal aid and bar partners around the county, who are using technology in innovative ways to enable more lawyers to provide service and expand meaningful access to justice in their communities.”

The award recognizes in particular Pro Bono Net’s ability to promote and support pro bono involvement in underserved regions, especially rural areas. Rural communities often have a significant need for legal aid due to high levels of poverty, but services are frequently scarce. Pro Bono Net, with its local partners, has worked to address this service gap through the use of technology.  Examples include an online pro bono manual in Mississippi that helps lawyers doing volunteer work outside their area of expertise; the use of online mailings tools to place pro bono cases in Wyoming; and pro bono trainings done via webcast in Georgia.

“Pro Bono Net’s technological infrastructure and pro bono expertise have allowed us to implement several initiatives especially helpful to rural attorneys, including training webinars, chat-based interactive support and online document assembly templates,” said Michael L. Monahan, Director of the State Bar of Georgia Pro Bono Project.

About Pro Bono Net
Pro Bono Net is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing access to justice through innovative uses of technology and increased volunteer lawyer participation. Founded in 1998 with support from the Open Society Institute, Pro Bono Net has created a broad and powerful network of nonprofit legal aid providers, courts and bar associations across the United States and Canada. This network uses two innovative web-based platforms—www.probono.net and www.lawhelp.org—to recruit and manage volunteers and provide direct information and tools for low-income communities and the organizations that serve them.   Pro Bono Net corporate sponsors include ALM, Epiq Systems, LexisNexis and Pitney Bowes Legal Solutions.  For more information, please visit www.probono.net.

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