As US Law Firms Shed Lawyers, Pro Bono Work Is Up
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Pro bono work for the poor and disadvantaged, performed by signatories to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge, increased by 558,400 hours, or 13%, in 2008, despite an economic recession that caused the shutdown of several law firms and thousands of layoffs.

The Pro Bono Institute 2008 Challenge Report showed that in 2008, 134 of the nation’s largest law firms performed 4,844,000 total hours of pro bono work, as compared to 135 firms that performed 4,285,684 hours in 2007, an increase of 13%.

Not only has the number of pro bono hours donated by firms grown dramatically since 2007, the number of lawyers performing those hours has increased as well. In 2007, 17,500 partners and 29,600 associates participated, while in 2008, 19,100 partners and 33,900 associates participated, an over 12% increase in participation.


There are 145 signatories to the Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge, which was developed by law firm leaders and corporate general counsel.

Established in 1996, the Pro Bono Institute is a nonprofit organization with a mandate to explore and identify new approaches to the poor and disadvantaged unable to secure legal assistance to address critical problems.

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