Pepper Hamilton believes that each of its lawyers should provide pro bono and public interest legal services, as a matter of professional responsibility and in recognition of the great need for these services.
The Firm’s Historical Commitment
From the start of the firm in 1890, Pepper lawyers have accepted challenging (and frequently unpopular) cases, participating in pro bono activities ranging from death penalty litigation to civil rights class actions to individual civil matters for low income, disabled and other people who are disadvantaged. Pepper also has represented hundreds of nonprofit organizations.
Pepper contributes, year after year, thousands of hours of professional time to pro bono matters. Our work benefits the individuals we serve, the public at large, and the development of our lawyers’ skills and sense of professionalism and public service. Firm policy actively encourages partners and associates to provide pro bono legal services.
Dedication to Pro Bono
Pepper takes on pro bono activities with the same care as other matters. As long as there is no conflict of interest, we will analyze the rights of our potential clients, the state of the law and the experience of our lawyers in the area of law at issue.
Once we accept a pro bono project, Pepper pursues it with all of the energy and attention to detail that we apply to our other work. We expect our lawyers to devote as much time as necessary to handle the project successfully.
Whenever an associate handles a pro bono matter, a senior lawyer is assigned to supervise the case. To encourage our associates to take on pro bono projects, the firm credits the hours spent on such matters, along with time devoted to client-billable matters, for purposes of meeting the firm’s budgeted billable hours goal. In addition, we weigh the quality of performance on a pro bono case equally with the work on any other project for purposes of associate evaluation.
The firm’s efforts are managed and supervised by our director of pro bono programs, who also is special counsel with the firm. Pepper’s Pro Bono Committee sets the firm’s overall goals and policies, and advises the director of pro bono programs.
As a firm, we have pledged to devote an amount equal to 3 percent of our billable hours to pro bono work by accepting The Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge, and we expect our attorneys to share that commitment.
Sources of Cases and Projects
Pepper receives pro bono referrals from public interest law centers and organizations, other members of the bar, clients and, occasionally, individuals who are aware of our reputation in this area.
We work with or receive referrals from organizations such as the Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program, the American Civil Liberties Union, Community Legal Services, the AIDS Law Project, the Women’s Law Project, Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, the Support Center for Child Advocates, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, Legal Counsel for the Elderly, the Dauphin County Bar Pro Bono Program, the Mercer County (NJ) Bar Association, Delaware Volunteer Legal Services and Detroit Legal Services.
Accepting a New Pro Bono Matter
Every potential pro bono matter, regardless of its source, must be reviewed and approved by the director of pro bono programs or another member of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee.
A potential pro bono matter will be reviewed and evaluated to determine whether, among other things, it (a) presents a conflict with any existing matter in the firm, (b) provides direct legal services to an individual or organization unable to pay for the service and (c) advances law reform or would benefit the public interest. We interpret the latter criterion broadly to accommodate the wide spectrum of our lawyers’ interests and viewpoints.