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

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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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