The Bar News

Spotlight on pro bono: offers resources for specific types of pro bono attorneys

For members of the Illinois legal profession, pro bono practice support resources are as easy as a click away, at That website, which is hosted by Illinois Legal Aid Online, now offers web pages with resources targeted at specific types of pro bono practitioners, including senior attorneys, federal government attorneys, corporate counsel, paralegals, and law students. Each homepage is customized for the target audience, and features video interviews with pro bono volunteers and articles specific to doing pro bono work. These homepages may be accessed via the internet at:

Illinois Legal Aid Online partnered with the Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) to develop the homepages. The organizations designed the websites to further engage senior attorneys, government attorneys, corporate counsel, paralegals and law students in pro bono work. Jim Archer, one of the retired attorneys featured in the pro bono videos, states, “Everybody – but certainly lawyers in particular – have an obligation to give back somehow.”

Illinois Legal Aid Online and PILI designed the homepages to provide easier access to pro bono work by:

  1. demystifying some of the issues around pro bono work
  2. offering a clearinghouse of volunteer opportunities for each user group, and
  3. educating and encouraging these groups about how they may improve their professional experience and share their skills with others through pro bono service

For example, the senior attorneys’ homepage contains information on licensing and malpractice insurance, while the law students’ homepage offers articles on the Illinois 711 License and federal loan forgiveness for public-interest lawyers. Each homepage also lists volunteer opportunities specific to its targeted population. Jill Roberts, a 3L at Chicago-Kent College of Law, who is featured on the law students’ video, discusses how volunteering for the public good can be infectious, “I think that once you start this sort of work, it’s something that you want to continue.” is an innovative website that provides Illinois attorneys and legal professionals with online resources for finding pro bono opportunities and obtaining the necessary training and support to do pro bono work. The website offers volunteers the following tools:

  • Preparation of several types of interactive legal documents;
  • Legal resources in 24 areas of law, including those legal areas that are particularly relevant to lower-income and vulnerable Illinois residents;
  • Live and archived video training presentations and CLE;
  • Legal news and statewide community calendar, and;
  • A search tool for volunteer opportunities.

The Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) cultivates a lifelong commitment to public interest at every stage in a person’s legal career. In addition to a law student internship program and a law graduate fellowship program, PILI offers a pro bono consulting program called the Pro Bono Initiative, which works with law firms, corporations, law schools, law students, and legal aid organizations to promote and enhance pro bono in Illinois. The Pro Bono Initiative promotes best practices for pro bono work, helps ensure effective communication about available pro bono opportunities, and acts as a clearinghouse and resource for pro bono issues.

Posted on December 14, 2009 by Hon. Douglas Knapp
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