These days, large law firms are increasingly committed to pro bono work for a wide range of reasons. Pro bono allows them to fulfill their ethical obligations and serves as a means to give back to their communities. But today, many firms now also view pro bono work as a means to achieve core business objectives, including boosting marketing and brand-building efforts; helping firms stand out in a competitive market; providing valuable training to younger associates; and as a tool for recruitment and retention.
As pro bono work grows in importance, many law firms find it hard to keep up with the related challenges, such as identifying volunteer opportunities, staffing and monitoring matters, locating training events and resources, and tracking the time and resources devoted to pro bono by the firmís lawyers. These demands often divert time and energy that could be better spent by pro bono coordinators on mentoring associates, providing substantive support, or even promoting and growing the firmís program.
To address these needs, Pro Bono Net has created Pro Bono Manager, a new web based platform that enables law firms to more effectively manage and promote their pro bono work. The software will centralize all information related to a firmís pro bono program and its tools will greatly simplify internal promotion of pro bono as well as reporting, staffing and oversight. In addition to time and cost savings and increased efficiency, the software will help firms increase volunteer participation and improve outcomes for pro bono clients.
Developed as an earned income venture, with social venture capital provided in the form of grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Booth Ferris Foundation (see: Pro Bono Net News, December 2006), Pro Bono Manager will enable Pro Bono Net to continue to provide critical services to a broad network of nonprofit legal organizations, courts and bar associations across the country.
In August, we had our first chance to showcase Pro Bono Manager to major law firms at the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) annual conference held in Orlando. ILTA is the largest peer networking organization focused on the effective use of technology by the legal profession. This yearís conference was attended by more than 1,000 lawyers and technologists, making it the perfect venue to unveil the product. Special thanks to Peggy Wechsler, Program Director and Vendor Liaison, who generously waived ILTAís registration fees and to Microsoft for donating exhibition space.
Pro Bono Manager is built on Microsoftís SharePoint 2007 platform and we have partnered with XMLAW, the leading provider of SharePoint products and services to the legal industry, on software development and integration. Pro Bono Net has solicited feedback from a group of ten law firms throughout the design and development process to ensure that Pro Bono Manager is user friendly and addresses firmsí needs.
Pro Bono Manager will be launched to the public in early 2007, and we look forward to the exciting opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. This venture will not only provide significant support to our organization and our partners, but will help firms increase their involvement in pro bono, and boost access to justice for the millions of indigent people face their legal problems alone each year.
For more information about Pro Bono Manager, please contact Adam Licht at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adam Licht joined Pro Bono Net in April 2006 as Director of Product Management. He has substantial software product management and development experience within the publishing, legal and financial service industries. Prior to joining Pro Bono Net, he held senior product management positions with RR Donnelley, CCH Legal Information Services, A Wolters Kluwer Company and Net Exchange.com. Adam earned an MBA from The University of Chicago, an MFA in Photography from The University of Arizona and a BFA from SUNY College at Purchase.