Standards for Pro Bono Programs

by Anil Makhijani on June 8, 2008

This weekend, I stumbled upon an interesting document published by the American Bar Association.  The document, titled Standards for Pro Bono Programs, gives a number of criteria that any institution offering pro bono legal care should strive to meet.  A number of points made in the document are relevant to any non-profit that provides community services. (When I say this, I have openplans.org in mind. Openplans.org is produced by my employer The Open Planning Project.)  I have picked some of the most relevant ones:

Standard 2.1 Identification of Clients’ Needs

A pro bono program should establish a means of identifying the legal needs of persons of limited means who reside within its service area.

Standard 2.3 Delivery Design

A pro bono program should establish a design for the delivery of legal services which is tailored to local circumstances and which effectively and efficiently meets identified client need.

Standard 2.4 Quality Assurance

A pro bono program should strive to assure that all clients served through the program receive high quality legal services.

Standard 2.10 Relations with Community Organizations

A pro bono program should strive to develop and maintain active and cooperative relations with community organizations and social service agencies that serve clients.

Standard 2.11 Institutional Stature and Credibility

A pro bono program should strive to attain institutional stature and credibility to enhance its ability to achieve client objectives.

Standard 2.12 Periodic Program Evaluation

A pro bono program should periodically evaluate its effectiveness and implement appropriate improvements, as needed.

Standard 3.4-2 Client Confidences

Consistent with ethical and legal responsibilities, a pro bono program should preserve information regarding clients and applicants from any disclosure not authorized by the client or applicant.

Standard 3.4-3 Client Access

A pro bono program should adopt policies and procedures which facilitate access to its service by the client community.

Standard 3.4-4 Communication with Clients

A pro bono program and its volunteers should communicate effectively with clients.

Standard 3.5-8 Recognition

A pro bono program should develop effective methods for the recognition of its volunteers.

Standard 4.7 Program Personnel

A pro bono program should employ personnel who are competent, sensitive to clients and committed to the provision of high quality legal services.

Categories: ABA

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