ABA Midyear Meeting 2009

More Lawyers Representing the Poor for Free, ABA Study Finds

More lawyers are donating more time to representing the poor for free, a study by the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service has found. The report was issued today at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Boston.

The study (PDF) found that 73 percent of attorneys provided some pro bono representation to persons of limited means, or organizations that represent such people, during the prior year, according to a press release. That’s up from 66 percent in a 2005 study conducted by the group.

Attorneys provided an average of 41 hours of pro bono work over the past year, up from 39 hours in 2005.

The study was based on interviews with a representative sample of 1,100 lawyers nationwide conducted in 2008. It has a statistical accuracy of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The study found that 81 percent of lawyers in private practice provide some pro bono services, compared to just 43 percent of corporate counsel and 30 percent of lawyers working for government.

Approximately 84 percent of solo practitioners and lawyers in firms of 2 to 10 attorneys reported doing pro bono, compared to 76 percent of lawyers in firms of 101 or more lawyers. More minority lawyers in private practice volunteered their time (90 percent) than did white lawyers in law firms (80 percent).

The committee is encouraging legal groups nationwide to honor lawyers who donate pro bono time. The National Pro Bono Celebration is scheduled for Oct. 25-31.

Updated Feb. 18 to include links to study and related news release.

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