Steven Schulman Quoted on Tips to Improve a Pro Bono Program

Law360, for its article “5 Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Pro Bono Work,” quoted Akin Gump pro bono partner Steven Schulman on how to “jump-start” a pro bono program.  Schulman joined Akin Gump in 2006 as the firm’s first full-time pro bono partner.

On the topic of working with institutional pro bono clients, such as a school or nonprofit health care facility, Schulman cited the firm’s partnership with KIPP Public Charter Schools, for which Akin Gump has provided a wide range of legal services.  The breadth of the relationship is equally beneficial for law firm associates, Schulman noted: “What you need is that full pro bono menu, and what these kinds of clients can offer are a range of projects. We're looking at the client-development side for associates as well.”

He added that other benefits include improved external and internal messaging regarding the firm’s capabilities: “I’m always surprised at what partners are doing in terms of board service, and a lot of those are organizations we would want to do pro bono work for.”

On the topic of mobilizing a firm’s lawyers, who may not always be inclined to do pro bono work, Schulman suggested that pro bono heads familiarize themselves with lawyers’ backgrounds in order to find congenial fits between attorney and pro bono client.  “Figure out what people in your firm are interested in and build expertise around that. Once you have a cadre of people involved, others will follow,” he said.

Schulman also noted that, when speaking with busy senior attorneys, he promotes their managerial experience: “What I say to them is that they’re valuable as good mentors, as good supervisors and as lawyers with excellent legal judgment. I also tell them what I’m not expecting is for them to get involved in every little decision in the day-to-day.”

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