Public Interest Law Initiative

Update on ABA Pro Bono Survery Conducted in Illinois

Posted on: October 16, 2017

In early 2017, the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice—in partnership with the Chicago Bar Foundation, the Illinois Bar Foundation, and the Public Interest Law Initiative—released a statewide survey to hear directly from attorneys about their experiences with pro bono. The Pro Bono Survey Project is part of a national effort spearheaded by the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service to study broader pro bono trends across the country.

Pro Bono Attorneys in Illinois at a Glance:

  • 84% had individuals as clients
  • 40% had organizations as clients
  • 66% did a limited scope pro bono case
  • 33% appeared in court on a pro bono case
  • 70% found the pro bono time commitment matched their expectations
  • 89% found the pro bono case complexity matched their expectations
  • The #1 reason that attorneys in Illinois do pro bono is to help those in need.

We thank each of you for taking the time to respond to the survey. In all, we heard from nearly 6000 attorneys in every judicial circuit, county, and practice setting in the state. The thousands of responses reflect the diversity of both our state’s attorneys and their experiences with pro bono. We would also like to congratulate the winner of our $500 raffle prize, Bryon Kohut of Ottawa, IL.

This month, as we celebrate Pro Bono Week in Chicago and throughout Illinois, we would like to share some survey highlights and helpful website to learn more about pro bono. You can learn more about the many pro bono opportunities available by visiting the resources below.

Learn More

  • Pro bono isn’t just for litigators. Many individuals and organizations need non-litigation help. In fact, only one-third of survey respondents actually appeared in court for their pro bono case. Non-litigation pro bono opportunities may be particularly well-suited for government and in-house attorneys.
  • Pro bono doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Illinois attorneys are leaders in limited scope pro bono work, with two-thirds of survey respondents providing limited scope services. Dozens of pro bono and legal aid programs offer flexible opportunities, including some that can be done remotely (learn more about remote pro bono opportunities like ABA Legal Answers and many more on Illinois Legal Aid Online).
  • Pro bono isn’t just for active status attorneys. Even if you are retired or on inactive status, you can still do pro bono through Rule 756.
  • Pro bono clients aren’t always individuals. Four out of ten pro bono survey respondents took at least one case representing an organization last year, while eight out of ten took at least one case representing an individual.   The number one reason that attorneys in Illinois do pro bono is to help those in need, but there are an endless number of ways in which to do it.
  • Pro bono isn’t just for experts. By taking a pro bono case through a legal aid organization or court-based pro bono program, you may get many additional benefits including:
  • High-quality cases, carefully vetted by experts in the field and screened for merit
  • Malpractice insurance coverage
  • Training to help you expand outside your day-to-day practice area
  • Learning opportunities approved for MCLE credit
  • Troubleshooting and support from experienced attorneys
  • Automatic waiver of court fees for your client under Rule 298

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