“Every lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay.”
-ABA Model Rule 6.1
Pro bono legal work has typically been the mainstay of law firms and solo practitioners. Unlike in-house corporate legal departments, law firms and solo practitioners usually have the bandwidth, and time needed to take on pro bono legal work. However, this is changing as corporate counsel departments are discovering ways to weave pro bono work into their case loads.
3M Corporation Goes Above and Beyond
Take the story of 3M’s general counsel Ivan Fong  who spearheaded the company’s pro bono initiative and helped in-house counsel attorneys find joy by serving the community. His pro bono team has helped refugees and minimized sentences for death row inmates.
It’s Tough to Engage in Pro Bono As In-house Counsel
The American Bar Association understands that while it’s not easy for corporate counsel departments to engage in pro bono work, they have a responsibility to give back to the community.  It certainly is a challenge to do pro bono legal work when you are in-house counsel.
Some of the reasons cited as challenges for corporate counsel legal departments to do pro bono work are:
1. Limitations when it comes to resources
2. Less support staff than law firms
3. Most corporate legal departments don’t have a pro bono platform
4. Worries about malpractice insurance.
These are legitimate and understandable reasons for not wanting to do pro bono work, but that scenario is changing as the ABA shows that with just the right amount of planning, every lawyer can step up to the plate. Corporate legal departments can start a pro bono platform right at the workplace, or reach out to the Association of Corporate Counsel for more resources.