Ten years ago, while “snowmageddon” raged in Chicago, Pro Bono Network formed, changing the model for the way free legal services are provided. Ten years later, we continue to create meaningful change in the lives of low-income residents.
On Feb. 1, 2011, even “snowmageddon” could not stop 10 Chicago-area attorneys on a mission to change the way free civil legal services are provided to low-income residents. Ten years on, we have grown to more than 400 volunteers and provide pro bono services in a dozen different areas. This year, we celebrate our growth and the commitment of our volunteers, partners, donors, and supporters who want to create meaningful change in the lives of low-income residents.
What makes PBN different?
- We tap the experience of professionals in different stages of their careers, from sole practitioners, retired attorneys, and attorneys taking time off to care for loved ones to full-time attorneys in private practice.
- We provide the training, mentoring, and project management needed for professionals to participate in projects differing from their legal backgrounds.
- We have volunteer opportunities of various durations, which allows professionals to participate based on their own schedules.
- We efficiently partner with legal aid agencies to adapt or expand their programs so as to not duplicate services.
- We have adapted our projects where possible to continue them safely and efficiently during the COVID pandemic.
In 10 years, our volunteers (both attorneys and non-attorneys) have stepped up to provide more than 4,300 clients in Cook and DuPage counties with more than 24,000 hours of free legal services. At the going rate for attorneys of $250 per hour, that translates into more than $6 million in free legal help for low-income clients. PBN Executive Director Linda Rio states, “Our staff, volunteers, and partner agencies have stepped up in whole new ways, creating methods to serve clients in need, remotely and safely, using new technologies and adapting current projects.”
We look forward to our next 10 years, and encourage potential volunteers to visit http://probono.network to learn more.