Pro Bono Global Summit Expands the Practice - The Minute

Jun 9, 2014 4:00 PM ET
Multimedia with summary

The term pro bono is most often used to describe free legal services provided by law firms, which assign a percentage of their associates’ time to helping those in need of legal advice, but who cannot afford it. Many organizations have emerged to formalize and focus this activity, notably, the pioneering Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, founded in 1969 in New York City, and now a generic term for similar arts legal advisory organizations throughout the country.

The Taproot Foundation is pioneering something similar for business on a global scale. It is developing the pro bono concept to a new standard by building on the common activity of hands-on corporate volunteering to install the pro bono ethic into every area of business operations, including HR, IT, marketing, and strategy.

At its recent Global Pro Bono Summit, the Taproot Foundation and BMW Foundation gathered over 300 representatives of corporations and nonprofits, and pro bono professionals to discuss practices. Several key points emerged from this Global Summit. They include using the pro bono idea to engage executives in service and philanthropy, helping corporations identify ways that pro bono could be used as a career accelerator, and integrating pro bono engagement with HR departments and employee training. These innovations should help both businesses and nonprofits leverage their resources to make pro bono to stand for much more than just legal advice.

I’m John Howell for 3BL Media.

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