Pro Bono Promise

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Pro Bono Promise

The ideal of “Justice for all” is so inherent in our American system of government that it is included in our Pledge of Allegiance. As attorneys, we are officers of the court and part of the judicial system that must provide Justice for all. Our status as lawyers comes with many privileges. We are allowed to police ourselves through the state bar. We are empowered to make a very good living practicing law. As part of that bargain, however, attorneys share the responsibility of making sure all people have access to Justice. If the public begins to view our system as one in which only those who can afford an attorney can obtain Justice, the system will be changed, and the privileges we have grown to enjoy will be stripped away.

As the hub for pro bono service in Central Virginia, the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation is committed to encouraging and facilitating Virginia’s lawyers in meeting their professional obligation to provide pro bono services. GRBF is committed to leading the private bar from the sidelines to the front lines in closing the Justice Gap. To that end, GRBF developed the Pro Bono Promise, a pledge to support five key elements to a successful pro bono program, essentially, a set of “best practices” for pro bono:

Clear Policies

A law firm, legal department or solo practitioner agrees to adopt clear written policies that all attorneys are expected to provide pro bono services. Those policies must include a procedure for opening pro bono files and recording pro bono time separately from other activities. This allows attorneys to report back to the community, through the Bar Foundation, about their pro bono efforts.

A Common Definition of Pro Bono

Joining the Pro Bono Promise means adopting a definition of pro bono services as real legal work for real people of limited means, or for non-profits whose primary mission is to serve people of limited means.

A Clear Goal

The Pro Bono Promise asks for a commitment of 2% of an attorney or firm’s billable time to be dedicated to pro bono. For instance, an attorney billing 2,000 hours in a year should provide 40 hours of pro bono service. In addition, those who commit to the Pro Bono Promise will report their hours each year to the Bar Foundation, enabling the Bar Foundation to measure progress towards eliminating the Justice Gap.

Financial Support of Legal Aid

Those who commit to the Pro Bono Promise will also recognize the need to financially support local legal aid organizations, who are on the front lines every day providing services to those in need.


Finally, a commitment to the pro bono promise comes with a commitment to identify a point of contact, who will work with the Bar Foundation to report pro bono success, and to receive pro bono news and guidance.

The Greater Richmond Bar Foundation is asking all lawyers in Central Virginia to commit to the Pro Bono Promise. By implementing these best practices and aspirational goals, we can begin to shrink the Justice Gap in our community and meet our ethical obligation to provide pro bono services to those in need.
Join the growing list of firms & corporate legal departments who have already committed to the Promise:
For more information about making the Pro Bono Promise, please contact Shane Harper at or at (804) 780-2600 ext. 1.