Lawyers Passionate about Providing Access to Justice for Underserved Populations
Survey Conducted by LexisNexis and Pro Bono Net Finds Lawyers Motivated by Personal Fulfillment to Use Their Skills for the Public Good
March 29, 2011 — NEW YORK - LexisNexis (www.lexisnexis.com) and Pro Bono Net (www.probono.net) today announced the results of a new study indicating that pro bono work is heavily ingrained in the legal profession, and is driven primarily by a sense of personal commitment on the part of lawyers. Almost eight out of ten (79 percent) of the more than 200 attorneys surveyed (from both large and small firms) use their skills to make a positive impact in the world. The survey found that those undertaking pro bono work are motivated by personal fulfillment goals and a dedication to issues important to them and their communities. Lawyers not volunteering their services often are interested in pro bono work, yet constrained by time and billing expectations.
"This survey helps dislodge the common misperception that the legal industry is solely focused on the next case and the next client," said Mike Walsh, CEO of the global legal business of LexisNexis. "Most lawyers enter the profession with the goal to preserve and protect the rights of individuals and organizations. What this study makes clear is that this drive to uphold the rule of law makes a difference not only in the courtroom and the boardroom, but in society at large where lawyers are committed to making a difference by helping underserved populations find justice."
In line with that, three-quarters of the lawyers surveyed identified personal fulfillment as the leading reason for taking on pro bono work and nearly half (43 percent) are motivated by their commitment to specific causes. Only one-third (37 percent) of the attorneys cited meeting an ethical obligation as being strongly influential in their decision to take on pro bono matters, while just 4 percent get involved because of employer incentives or expectations.
Moreover, among those not volunteering their services, only one quarter (26 percent) state no interest in pro bono matters – a clear signal that other factors such as lack of time (67 percent) and competing billable hour expectations & policies (30 percent) are the main hurdles lawyers need to overcome to get involved. This indicates that a significant number of attorneys who don’t volunteer are constrained by work-related factors often beyond their control.
"The survey results suggest that firms looking to build their pro bono programs are advised to take a two-prong approach: customizing programs to appeal to the passions and interests of participating attorneys on one side, while helping attorneys to balance pro bono and billable work on the other," said Mark O’Brien, Executive Director of Pro Bono Net.
Based on the survey’s findings, there is a clear desire on the part of practicing attorneys to be more involved with pro bono work. With the already demanding workload of most lawyers, firms seeking to engage their employees can provide support in a number of ways:
- Instill Passion – Offer programs that allow attorneys to seek out pro bono work that matches their personal interests
- Make it Personal – Invite attorneys to bring in pro bono matters from organizations and causes they support
- Remove Barriers – Implement policies and procedures that allow attorneys to balance billable and pro bono work, and provide access to a range of pro bono training and case opportunities to make it easy to get involved
This survey was conducted by LexisNexis among a nationally representative sample of 207 small and large law attorneys across all seniority levels. The study was conducted online in November 2010 and has a margin of error of 6.8 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. A report of the survey’s findings is available at http://www.lexisnexis.com/media/Why_Lawyers_Give_Back.pdf.
LexisNexis® (www.lexisnexis.com) is a leading global provider of content and information solutions designed specifically for professionals in the legal, risk management, corporate, government, law enforcement, accounting and academic markets. LexisNexis, a Reed Elsevier company, serves customers in more than 100 countries with 15,000 employees worldwide.
LexisNexis shares with its customers the commitment to provide access to justice to the poor and disadvantaged through pro bono work as part of its efforts to advance the Rule of Law – the basic concept that a functioning society requires a strong legal system and set of laws respected by everyone, including the government. Together with public and private partners, LexisNexis supports various programs provi