Study reveals significant increase in pro bono partners over last two decades

Growth shows importance of role in demonstrating a firm's commitment to pro bono work

Study reveals significant increase in pro bono partners over last two decades

A new study revealed that law firms around the world have seen a sharp rise in the number of pro bono partners over the past 20 years.

The study – conducted by DLA Piper in cooperation with the Australian Pro Bono Centre, the Pro Bono Institute in Washington DC, and the Thomson Reuters Foundation – identified 66 examples of dedicated pro bono partners in more than 55 law firms last year, increasing from six globally in the 1990s.

In a statement, DLA Piper said that the growth illustrates the importance of this role in “demonstrating a firm's commitment to providing pro bono work and access to justice, its desire to show leadership and best practice in this area and a growing recognition of the value such roles bring to the broader partnership.”

The study also found that senior and experienced pro bono lawyers in large law firms offer pro bono work “on a wide range of issues from supporting vulnerable or low-income individuals on housing and immigration issues – either directly or through the non-profit organisations that support those in need – to advising UN agencies, chief justices and prime ministers in developing countries”.

DLA Piper pro bono partner Nicolas Patrick said that the nature of pro bono work has evolved enormously over the past decade.

“Pro bono practices are much larger and often operate across multiple jurisdictions,” he said. “The work is increasingly complex, frequently connected to humanitarian emergencies and almost always requires strategic engagement with a range of stakeholders. The growth in pro bono partner roles directly reflects these trends.”

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