Funding Pro Bono Expenses


Funding Pro Bono Expenses


Establishing a fund to cover expenses of pro bono attorneys will empower more retired, governmental, corporate, solo and small firm attorneys to volunteer. The fund could be administered by the court, the local bar association or a pro bono provider agency.

Different models for raising funds for pro bono:

  • Cy pres cases: When the court has cases that require application of cy pres doctrine consider applying some of these funds to a pro bono expense fund, which benefits the needy of the community. Cy pres funds are also used to fund federal Legal Services programs.

  • Part of local bar dues: Encourage the local bar association to establish a pro bono expenses account funded by bar dues or donations.

  • Fundraising events: Attend fundraising events organized by local community leaders, civic organizations, ect.

  • Grants: Apply to IOLTA, family courts, Mo Bar Plan Foundation, etc.

  • Conduct MCLE programs presented by the court, local bar association or pro bono provider agency. The training programs can be free or reduced cost for pro bono attorneys. But also a fee can be charged to attorneys not engaged in pro bono service, which money can then be put in a fund to reimburse pro bono counsel for expenses. See A Rule To Show Cause On The Courts: How The Judiciary Can Help Pro Bono - Part II, by Carl "Tobey" Oxholm (ABA Dialogue, Spring 1999, pp. 3+).

In-kind contributions of resources will empower more volunteers. Examples are:

  • Making rooms at the courthouse available to pro bono attorneys.

  • Providing copying of documents, faxing, etc.

  • Encouraging larger law firms to make equipment, libraries and other resources available to pro bono attorneys.

  • Making law books available to pro bono programs.
      • This could merely be passing on outdated editions from the court's library or recruiting law firms to do so.
      • Using the court's library fund to buy basic practice books for pro bono programs.
      • Buying books for the court's library that are especially helpful to pro bono attorneys and making them available for loan to pro bono attorneys.

For the possibility of using Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) grants for funding pro bono programs, see, Tax-Based Pro Bono Incentive Legislation: A New Recruiting Tool?, Cassie Diaz-Bello (ABA Dialogue, Fall 1998, pp. 11+).

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