The best firms for pro bono 2017
Want to learn the craft of the lawyer fast? Then take on early pro bono cases. We asked associates to rate how well their firms supported this.
A sense of ownership and not worrying about that tiresome clock were common themes at firms that scored highly for pro bono. “Jenner is awesome about letting you do whatever you want,” reported an associate at our first-placed firm. Another Jennerite stressed that “pro bono is very much part of the culture. Partners see pro bono as a time for associates to gain substantive experience.” This is a mindset found at other high-ranking firms including Gibbons (8th place), where “for a young associate, pro bono is a great way to get onto a deposition, own a case, or stand on your feet.” We should also point out that Jenner's willingness to take on high profile cases – even as far as the Supreme Court, like for gay marriage – also provoked excitement among associates.
At second-placed Munger, “people have no problems with me doing ridiculous amounts of pro bono” and “it's embedded in the culture of the firm.” Similarly, over at MoFo, in third place, “right away you're staffed on pro bono matters and it's taken very seriously.” At Orrick (4th), one junior associate “told the pro bono partner I was interested in women's rights, so he gave me cases I'd be interested in.” Respondents at all these firms and more agreed with the Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis (13th) attorney who told us: “Pro bono hours are treated the same” as billable hours. They also agreed with the Latham (20th) interviewee who concluded that pro bono is “a really good way to run your own files.” The best firms for pro bono let their associates run with cases that interest them, and make clear that this kind of work is just as important as assignments for paying clients.
We asked associates to give a rating for how interesting the pro bono work is, how much it has helped them further their careers, how dedicated their firm is to pro bono, and whether they feel any pressure from partners NOT to do pro bono. The firms listed are those demonstrating excellent performance.