Pro Bono Publico in a Parallel Universe: The Meaning of Pro Bono in Solo and Small Law Firms

The organized bar is increasingly providing pro bono legal assistance to the more than fifty million people of limited means in the United States. 1 In 2008, the 200 highest grossing law firms in the United States contributed a record 5.57 million hours of pro bono service to individuals and organizations that could not afford to hire lawyers. 2 These large firms now have well-organized pro bono programs that enjoy considerable administrative support. But the lawyers in large firms (over 100 lawyers) comprise only about 16% of the lawyers in private practice. 3 Solo and small firm (two to five) lawyers, who comprise 63% of private practitioners, 4 contribute more time and in greater numbers to the pro bono legal representation of persons of limited means than any other group of lawyers.

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