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Statewide Pro Bono Survey Highlights

In early 2017, the Illinois Bar Foundation joined the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice, the Chicago Bar Foundation, and the Public Interest Law Initiative in releasing a statewide survey to hear directly from attorneys about their experiences with pro bono.

The Pro Bono Survey Project is part of a national effort spearheaded by the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service to study broader pro bono trends across the country. Nearly 6,000 attorneys in every judicial circuit, county, and practice setting in the state responded to the survey. The thousands of responses reflect the diversity of both our state’s attorneys and their experiences with pro bono. 

This month, as we celebrate Pro Bono Week, we would like to share some survey highlights and helpful websites to learn more about pro bono.

Learn More

  • Pro bono isn’t just for litigators. Many individuals and organizations need non-litigation help. In fact, only one-third of survey respondents actually appeared in court for their pro bono case. Non-litigation pro bono opportunities may be particularly well-suited for government and in-house attorneys.
  • Pro bono doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Illinois attorneys are leaders in limited scope pro bono work, with two-thirds of survey respondents providing limited scope services. Dozens of pro bono and legal aid programs offer flexible opportunities, including some that can be done remotely (learn more about remote pro bono opportunities like ABA Legal Answers and many more on Illinois Legal Aid Online).
  • Pro bono isn’t just for active status attorneys. Even if you are retired or on inactive status, you can still do pro bono through Illinois Supreme Court Rule 756.
  • Pro bono clients aren’t always individuals. Four out of ten pro bono survey respondents took at least one case representing an organization last year, while eight out of ten took at least one case representing an individual. The number one reason attorneys in Illinois do pro bono is to help those in need, but there are an endless number of ways in which to do it.
  • Pro bono isn’t just for experts. By taking a pro bono case through a legal aid organization or court-based pro bono program, you may get many additional benefits including:
    • High-quality cases, carefully vetted by experts in the field and screened for merit
    • Malpractice insurance coverage
    • Training to help you expand outside your day-to-day practice area
    • Learning opportunities approved for MCLE credit
    • Troubleshooting and support from experienced attorneys
    • Automatic waiver of court fees for your client under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 298

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Posted on October 17, 2017 by Sara Anderson
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