A good pro bono program takes work to develop, maintain, and improve. It requires a lot of planning to ensure it meets the needs of the client population, fills a gap in existing resources, and incorporates feedback from all stakeholders. It should have clear criteria for screening cases and a plan for periodic review and adjustment to reflect changes in the community, the law, or the courts.
If that sounds like a lot to think about, that’s because it is. Fortunately, the CBF has created a tool to help organizations looking to establish new pro bono programs to think through these and the many other issues that are critical to designing and implementing a successful program.
The CBF’s Pro Bono Checklist offers a helpful step-by-step guide to establishing a new pro bono program. The checklist guides users through the beginning stage of defining the legal problem to be solved and through all the subsequent stages of design, implementation, evaluation, and maintenance. It encourages programs to think through important, but sometimes overlooked, components like volunteer training and support, data collection, and integration within the broader legal system. Understanding the unique situation of court-based pro bono programs, the CBF also created a customized checklist for Court-Based Pro Bono Programs to aid court partners in designing new programs.
Over the decades, the CBF has worked with pro bono stakeholders across the legal community to develop and improve many pro bono projects. The pro bono checklist is a product of the CBF’s collaborative partnerships with law firms, corporations, legal aid organizations, the court, and the private bar, and it is a compilation of the best practices learned over many years of working alongside pro bono and legal aid organizations. This checklist itself continues to expand and evolve, adding new templates and resources, so that it can continue to serve as a helpful tool for many more pro bono programs to come.