Virtually since its inception, the HCBA has been committed to the principle that access to justice lies at the heart of our democracy. But too many in our community are unable to access justice, particularly in this time of economic crisis. We view with alarm and concern the proliferation of pro se litigants and the continuing reports that as many as 75% of persons who are in need of legal service go without representation.
Our mission statement and strategic plan have consistently stressed the importance that every lawyer work to meet this critical need by providing pro bono service to the community. Today, however, there are just too few attorneys who do this.
We believe that one explanation is the absence at mid-sized firms of programs and policies that promote pro bono services. These firms have no policies, not because they oppose such service, but because they don’t have readily available resources to help them create and implement such policies.
We can begin to solve this problem if leaders in law firms and corporate legal departments adopt policies that promote pro bono service. In 2008-2009, the HCBA Executive Committee and Board of Directors adopted a model pro bono policy for law firms and law departments to consider.
Note that the policy in many places contains alternative language, reflecting our recognition that one size does not fit all and individual firms face different challenges and opportunities.