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2016 Pro Bono Initiative Award: Pro Bono Network


Six years ago, a group of 10 non-practicing attorneys decided they wanted to find a way to give back to their community. This group were mostly women at home who had put their practices on hold to raise their families, but they knew their legal skills could make a difference. They came together to work on one pro bono project, and the Pro Bono Network was born.

This small group of volunteers grew exponentially. Most of the attorneys who joined the network had not volunteered before, lacking ties to the formal legal community and an obvious way to get involved. The Pro Bono Network provided the structure and support to activate this valuable group of volunteers and build capacity at legal aid organizations to provide legal services for more people in need.

PBN works with existing organizations to develop pro bono projects that fit the unique situations of their volunteers. Most of the pro bono projects can be done between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. while children are at school, and the work is often done in pairs in case one volunteer has an unexpected conflict, like a sick child.

Since that small group met for one project, they have grown into a community of 200 volunteers attorneys from all kinds of employment situations, partnering with 10 legal service agencies to provide over 8,000 hours of legal services to more than 1,000 clients in need.

“PBN has carved a niche for itself in expanding pro bono services through its ability to connect talented, service-minded attorneys with limited availability, with substantive volunteer opportunities they may not have otherwise discovered, such as Prairie State’s telephone counseling program. Prairie State is proud of its partnership with PBN and we look forward to expanding our collaboration to further our common goal of increasing access to justice for our clients.”
– Cindy Matre, Prairie State Legal Services

Learn about the recipients of PILI’s other 2016 Awards »

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