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National Pro Bono Task Force Releases Findings and Recommendations in Washington, Boston

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Legal Services CorporationA Pro Bono Task Force convened by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) Board of Directors will release its findings this week at events at the U.S. Capitol and Harvard Law School.

The board charged the task force with identifying and recommending innovative ways to enhance pro bono throughout the country. The report presents the findings and recommendations of the task force’s five working groups: Best Practices-Urban, Best Practices-Rural, Obstacles, Technology, and Big Ideas.

“Strengthening pro bono is essential in this time of reduced legal aid funding and rapidly escalating demand,” said LSC Board Chairman John G. Levi. “This report provides a blueprint to reshape pro bono into a more reliable system that will deploy increased and consistent civil legal assistance to the core areas affecting low-income Americans.”

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce-Justice-Science, and who will speak at the Washington event, also commented on the report.

“I appreciate LSC’s detailed report and recommendations on enhancing pro bono work around the U.S.,” Wolf said.  “For years, I have been advocating for better pro bono coordination between law firms and LSC.  I want to commend this LSC for rising to the occasion to provide critical leadership on this issue.  Pro bono work is essential to meeting the unmet needs of low-income Americans who deserve fair representation.”

The task force, co-chaired by Dean Martha Minow of the Harvard Law School and Harry J.F. Korrell III of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, included more than 60 distinguished leaders and experts from the judiciary, major corporations, private practice, law schools, the federal government, and the legal aid community. (See a list of task force members.)  

The task force’s recommendations to LSC and its grantees include:

  • Forming a professional association of pro bono coordinators at LSC-funded organizations;
  • Asking Congress to create a new Pro Bono Innovation/Incubation Fund modeled on LSC’s successful Technology Initiatives Grant (TIG) program; and
  • Developing a fellowship program for new graduates and emeritus lawyers designed to build support for civil legal services and pro bono within firms, law schools, and the legal profession as a whole.

The task force’s requests of bar leaders, the judiciary, and others include:

  • Permitting judges to recruit and recognize pro bono attorneys, consistent with their ethical obligations;
  • Allowing lawyers to take on limited-representation matters or unbundle services; and
  • Allowing lawyers to take on pro bono matters in jurisdictions other than those in which they are licensed to practice.

A one-page summary of the report is available at the link below. The full report will be available at on Tuesday, October 2.

UPDATE: The Pro Bono Task Force convened by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) Board of Directors released its full findings and recommendations on October 2, 2012 during an event at the U.S.Capitol Visitors’ Center. Speaking at the event were: The Honorable Frank Wolf (R-Virginia), Chairman, House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science & Related Agencies; LSC Board Chairman John G. Levi, Sidley Austin LLP; Dean Martha Minow, LSC Board and Harvard Law School; The Honorable David S. Tatel, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; Lee I. Miller, DLA Piper; Lisa C. Wood, Foley Hoag LLP and Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants; Harry J.F. Korrell III, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP and LSC Board member; and LSC President James J. Sandman.

Full Report.

Summary of the Report

Members of the LSC Pro Bono Task Force



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