TO: YOUNG LAWYERS DIVISION COUNCIL
FROM: MARK SCHICKMAN, CHAIR
ABA STANDING COMMITTEE ON PRO BONO AND PUBLIC SERVICE
SUBJECT: NATIONAL PRO BONO CELEBRATION
The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service has been discussing the development
of an annual national pro bono celebration for a number of years. It is now ready to move forward
with planning and implementing this initiative. The Pro Bono Committee is seeking your support
and buy-in of this idea and asking you to designate an individual to work with us in our planning.
Our goal is to undertake a coordinated effort at a national level to showcase the incredible difference
that pro bono lawyers make to our nation, to our system of justice, to our communities and, most of
all, to the clients they serve.
The ideas set forth below are just some of the things we are considering as part of a broad plan for a
national pro bono celebration. We are seeking comments on the core objectives of the plan, the
various components outlined here, and other components that should be added. Certainly the plan
will change from year-to-year, not only as noted below but in response to what we learn along the
way about what works and what does not. National, statewide and local partners, including other
ABA entities, will be sought to help implement this initiative.
The intent of this proposal is to craft a series of events that sends a significant message about the
power of pro bono. It is not our intent to supplant ongoing efforts by bar associations and others
during the year to convey the same messages on a day-to-day basis. Rather, one of our guiding
principle is to avoid undercutting or interfering with existing local awards, events, programs and
celebrations -- -- another key reason that we seek partnership with you. The legal needs of the poor
are local issues, and this nationwide celebration is intended to be local in its focus and impact as well.
PRO BONO CELEBRATION IDEAS
Pro Bono Day Proclamations
Each year proclamations celebrating the pro bono work of lawyers should be sought from the
president and each state’s governor. The ABA should work to develop draft proclamations and on
identifying the best strategies for promoting them. Consideration should be given to crafting
different resolutions from year-to-year depending on circumstances. For example, one year a
resolution might address the collective response of America’s lawyers to come to the aid the victims
of a particular major disaster.
In addition to conveying messages to the general public and the legal profession about the important
work of pro bono lawyers, the National Pro Bono Celebration should be utilized to recruit more
lawyers across the country. Each year a national recruitment campaign should be developed with a
theme, materials and resources that can be replicated at a local level. It is anticipated that recruitment
efforts should be crafted differently from year-to-year to focus on different targeted audiences,
different needs and other factors. Recruitment partners should be sought out as appropriate. In
addition, coordination with the provider community is crucial. Both web and hard copy materials
supporting the recruitment effort are essential.
In addition to the activities identified above, each year one activity should be developed to promote
and implement at a local level as part of the National Pro Bono Celebration. This is similar to the
Law Day model in which a different theme is selected annually and activities modeled on that theme
promoted to bar associations and others to develop in their own communities. Activities might
Leading By Example – bar presidents from national, state, local, diversity and specialty bars
across the country participate in some pro bono activity on National Pro Bono Day (e.g. a
legal advice clinic, taking a pro bono case)
Courting Pro Bono – judges host meetings of law firm leaders or speak at local pro bono
gatherings on National Pro Bono Day, urging lawyers to participate in pro bono
Meet the Pro Bono Lawyers – bar associations, pro bono programs, legal services offices and
courts are encouraged to sponsor panel discussions open to the public where pro bono
lawyers talk about the work they do and why it matters to them as professionals.
Involve Civic and Professional Groups -- -- The needs of the poor go beyond legal assistance, and
we will encourage medical, cpa, and other professionals to join in this week focusing on this
help. We also plan to coordinate with civic and educational groups, to help build a broad
base of support for, and recognition of the need for, legal assistance to the poor