We are pleased to feature a guest post from Nicholas Glicher of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Nick is Co-Head of Legal at the Thomson Reuters Foundation, having spent a number of years practising law at an international law firm. He looks after TrustLaw Connect’s global network of law firms and in-house legal teams, and manages legal projects submitted by non-profit and social entrepreneur partners. Below, Nick reports on the new TrustLaw Index of Pro Bono.
TrustLaw Connect’s latest initiative is the TrustLaw Index of Pro Bono: a global survey designed to create a resource that can help firms around the world understand how to get the most out of their pro bono programme.
Before I moved from private practice into the pro bono sector, I had no idea how pro bono matters arrived on my desk. I used to get emails flagging projects and would take them on if I had the time. More likely, I would find the email again a couple of weeks later under an avalanche of other messages about payment waterfalls in some securitisation I was working on. It never occurred to me to question how these projects were sourced, how my firm decided whether to take the projects on or not, and how many other steps had been taken before the project arrived on my desk.
I was fortunate enough to work at a firm where pro bono was embedded within the organisation, and there was a fairly smooth process to take on matters (or at least so it seemed to me). But how would you go about starting a formal pro bono practice in a firm? How do you get the momentum and enthusiasm required to develop a sustainable programme? How do you get the buy-in of partners that have been-doing-very-well-without-pro-bono-for-a-long-time-thank-you-very-much?
There is a wealth of knowledge and experience out there from firms with well-established, successful, and sophisticated pro bono programmes. But, working out how to tap into that is key to giving firms a leg-up as they develop their practices, and not only locally, but internationally too.
Working for a global pro bono organisation, I not only see the differences between law firms and in pro bono programmes around the world but also the similarities, in my everyday work. And, we regularly get asked by firms, large and small, in many different countries whether we have any ideas as to how they can do more and get more out of their programme. After all, law firms in Madagascar, Mongolia, and Monaco generally share the same goals and challenges when it comes to pro bono.
It is this that is the genesis of the TrustLaw Index of Pro Bono – we want to create a resource for the pro bono community that helps law firms understand what the key factors are in organising a successful programme, so that firms can learn from each other and assimilate the ideas that would work for them in their local context. TrustLaw’s mission is to spread the practice of pro bono around the world, and providing a resource that fosters structural assistance like this fits the bill perfectly.
But in order to create this resource, we need your help. We need to know as much as possible about pro bono programmes and the different approaches firms take in organising them to ensure we have the depth of information to provide comprehensive data back to the sector. Please let us know what your firm does and how it does it, so others can learn from your experiences, and hopefully you can learn from theirs. For more information, check out the Index page on our site.