Co-Chair
David Flechner

Co-Chair
Odette Geldenhuys

Pro Bono Committee

The IBA Pro Bono Committee is committed to actively encouraging lawyers, judges, law firms, bar associations, law schools, and governmental and non-governmental organisations to participate in pro bono legal service.

Latest updates

Spring e-Bulletin

Read new articles from the Pro Bono Committee’s Spring e-Bulletin! These articles reflect on the importance of pro bono during the global pandemic and highlight ongoing and new initiatives that demonstrate a commitment to pro bono projects and policy developments. Together, the articles highlight how the pandemic has exacerbated justice issues but also reaffirmed commitment to access to justice. In line with the IBA Pro Bono Declaration, legal professionals continue offering advocacy and pro bono legal services in difficult circumstances, but for important and pressing matters.

Read the latest articles here.

2020 IBA Annual Pro Bono Award winner

The Annual IBA Pro Bono Award was presented at the IBA 2020 – Virtually Together Conference during the SPPI Awards Ceremony on Monday 9 November. The award seeks to honour those who have shown outstanding commitment to pro bono work. Congratulations to the 2020 IBA Annual Pro Bono Award winner, humanitarian lawyer Ishrat Hasan (pictured), for her dedication to removing barriers of access to justice, specifically for the poor, disadvantaged and marginalized communities in Bangladesh, as well as her legal battles in relation to the rights of women and children.

View awards ceremony

Webinars

Watch the Pro Bono Committee webinar on Covid-19 and the pro bono response

Remote Legal Support: A Guide to Nonprofit and Pro Bono Innovation

This manual is the collective effort of more than 10 nonprofit immigration organizations and projects. We met regularly for over a year, to explore ways to leverage technology, and share strategies that improve access to justice for rural and underserved communities.

Download the guide

Twitter updates:

About the Committee

The Committee support pro bono legal services globally through the dissemination and implementation of the IBA Pro Bono Declaration, the exchange of pro bono information and initiatives, and the promotion of good pro bono practices.

On this webpage, you can find resources to assist in carrying out pro bono projects - check out the resources tab. You may find inspiration in what other professionals are doing both on an international and on a local basis by reading articles from our e-Bulletins.

Accordingly, in 2008, the IBA published its Pro Bono Declaration and charged the then Pro Bono & Access to Justice Committee with primary responsibility, together with its other access to justice work, for delivering on this commitment.

From 2013, recognising the importance to the profession of pro bono provision, this work has been taken up by a restructured Pro Bono Committee, whose mandate is to focus exclusively on the promotion and facilitation of pro bono work in furtherance of the aims of the Pro Bono Declaration.

Further initiatives include establishing Regional Working Groups to identify and address particular pro bono needs across the globe and a Clearing House Directory to publicise the work of the growing community of pro bono clearing houses and support their work. The Committee continues to seek new methods of encouraging and supporting pro bono work across the profession and is particularly keen to attract additional members who share its enthusiasm and dedication and would like to participate actively in its work.

Forthcoming conferences and webinars View all conferences and webinars

Pro Bono Declaration

The IBA calls upon lawyers and law firms to undertake pro bono work as an integral part of their professional activities.

Editor’s Note – Pro Bono Committee e-Bulletin

By Pamela R Kovacs. Editor’s Note – Pro Bono Committee e-Bulletin

The crucial role of pro bono legal services for freedom of expression and development of the law

In this article, the importance of pro bono legal services is highlighted in public interest matters regarding freedom of expression. The article reviews the introduction of a Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPP) suit defence in a defamation suit against environmental defendants in South Africa.

Covid-19: access to justice in Brazil and the importance of pro bono lawyering

This article explores challenges in accessing justice in Brazil during Covid-19 and highlights pro bono efforts to support public interest and social impact matters.

Analysis of prisoner releases in response to Covid-19 and pro bono opportunities

This article provides an overview of key findings from a December 2020 report analysing prisoner releases in 53 countries during Covid-19 and highlighting findings for further pro bono support.

Trial and error over trial and pandemic: tracing a pro bono matter during the pandemic

This article details the journey of a pro bono correctional matter during Covid-19 and identifies the responsibility for all those in the legal field to continue services despite obstacles presented by the pandemic.

Resources

Key pro bono resources

  • Index of Pro Bono (TrustLaw)
    The index identifies global trends in the pro bono marketplace and looks at the amount of pro bono work law firms are undertaking on a country-by-country basis.
  • Law360 Access to Justice Legal News and Analysis (Lexis Nexis)
    This weekly e-newsletter offers content on pro bono and access to justice issues.
  • Pro Bono Clearinghouse Manual (A4ID and PILnet)
    This manual offers resources for developing pro bono clearinghouse services and includes chapters on procedures, developing a supportive environment, publicity, financial sustainability, and useful contacts.
  • Pro Bono for Government Lawyers (Australian Pro Bono Center)
    This resource details key issues affecting participation by government lawyers in pro bono legal work and draws on the experience of government legal teams with existing pro bono policies and legal programmess, offering examples of the types of pro bono work in which government lawyers can be involved.
  • Pro Bono Handbook (Vance Centre and PILnet)
    This handbook offers a guide to establishing a law firm pro bono programme.
  • Remote Legal Support: A Guide to Nonprofit and Pro Bono Innovation (ProBonoNet)
    This guide explores ways to leverage technology and shares strategies that improve access to justice for rural and underserved communities.
  • Survey on Pro Bono Practices & Opportunities (Latham & Watkins and Pro Bono Institute)
    This survey in 84 jurisdictions provides information about global pro bono legal services.

Key international pro bono organisations

Pro Bono Declaration

The IBA calls upon lawyers and law firms to undertake pro bono work as an integral part of their professional activities.

Subcommittees and other groups

The Pro Bono Committee also coordinates the activities of the following subcommittees/working groups.

  • Pro Bono Committee Advisory Board

Digital content

VIDEO - The use of technology in pro bono - advantages, pitfalls, and lessons learned (56 minutes)
This session recording from the IBA 2020 - Virtually Together Conference considers using technology in pro bono service delivery and what has and has not worked. The session discusses the importance of a design-based and user-based approach to understand and best identify how to design systems that meet the needs of users, including topics such as crowdfunding, the use of blockchain technology, and the digitization of the free legal advice community.


VIDEO - Building an effective pro bono infrastructure (2 hours 18 minutes)
This session recording from the IBA Annual Conference 2016 considered how a pro bono function can be managed within law firms, and examined various models, including the involvement of dedicated legal and non-legal staff and committee and similar structures. The extent to which firms, particularly smaller firms, can share resources was also discussed. Read more


VIDEO - International Pro Bono Part I (1 hour 2 minutes)
This first session recording from the IBA Annual Conference 2015 focuses on international pro bono and reviews the different areas of opportunity for this work – pro bono does not have to begin at home. Read more


VIDEO - International Pro Bono Part II (1 hour 9 minutes)
This second session recording from the IBA Annual Conference 2015 focuses on international pro bono and reviews the different areas of opportunity for this work – pro bono does not have to begin at home. Read more


VIDEO - Pro Bono and Young Lawyers (2 hours 25 minutes)
This session recording from the IBA Annual Conference 2014 focuses on the challenges faced by young lawyers in conducting pro bono work and how firms and bar associations can help. Find out more


VIDEO - Bar Association and Law Society Roles in Pro Bono Part I (1 hour 31 minutes)
This first session recording from IBA Annual Conference 2013 explains the critical role that Bar Associations and Law Societies have in ‘Raising the Bar” and developing the necessary supporting infrastructure to facilitate and nurture a sustainable pro bono culture, while ensuring pro bono provision is conducted to acceptable standards.


VIDEO - Bar Association and Law Society Roles in Pro Bono Part II (1 hour)
This second session recording from IBA Annual Conference 2013 explains the critical role that Bar Associations and Law Societies have in ‘Raising the Bar” and developing the necessary supporting infrastructure to facilitate and nurture a sustainable pro bono culture, while ensuring pro bono provision is conducted to acceptable standards.

Pro Bono Award

Each year, the IBA’s Pro Bono Committee honour a lawyer who has shown an outstanding commitment to pro bono work as part of their legal career.

The IBA Pro Bono Committee’s mission is to support the IBA in promoting pro bono work globally through implementation of the IBA Pro Bono Declaration and the exchange of information and the promotion of best practice. Pro bono work is a cornerstone of the legal profession, and the IBA Pro Bono Committee wants to help build a culture of pro bono work by lawyers, law firms and organisations of lawyers as a vehicle for access to justice where that right is not fully supported by legal aid.

LexisNexis is honoured to sponsor the IBA Pro Bono Committee Award and hopes the winner will accept the Award in person during the IBA’s Annual Conference LexisNexis sponsorship provides a contribution of $5,500 USD to their attendance


Previous winners

2020: Ishrat Hasan
2019: Cecil Rajendra
2018: Baasanjargal Khurelbaatar
2017: Balazs Sahin-Toth
2016: Odette Geldenhuys
2015: Marco Fuchs
2014: Nick Paul
2013: Susan Finegan
2012: Tong Lihua
2011: Flavia Regina de Souza Oliveira
2010: Angeline Welsh