Legal Industry News
July 2, 2012
Pro Bono Decline Continues, Says The American Lawyer; Large Firm Structural Changes Hinder Turnaround
Large law firms’ pro bono work continued to drop last year, both in terms of hours per lawyer and number of lawyers contributing 20 hours or more.
Behind the decline are structural changes which suggest that a turnaround may not come anytime soon. This is according to the new report on the Am Law 200 in the July/August issue of ALM’s The American Lawyer, and online at americanlawyer.com.
Average pro bono hours per lawyer fell to 54.3 last year, down almost 12 percent from a 2009 peak, while the percentage of lawyers contributing 20 hours or more dropped to 43.5. Of the 169 firms responding to the survey, nearly two-thirds had a lower pro bono score than the year before.
“It’s an open secret that associates bear the brunt of pro bono work at Am Law 200 firms,” wrote The American Lawyer, Senior Reporter, Amy Kolz, “So it’s no surprise that the push toward lower leverage and smaller associate classes make pro bono advocates nervous.”
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As usual, the Am Law 100 firms were much higher in average pro bono hours per lawyer at 62.2 than the Second Hundred at 33.1. Additionally, Jenner & Block led all firms with 154.9 hours per lawyer, followed by
Covington & Burling with 146.3, Hughes Hubbard & Reed with 141.6, Paul Hastings with 131.3, and Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler with 116.1. In terms of percentage of lawyers contributing 20 hours or more of pro bono work, Paul Hastings led the pack, trailed by Dechert; Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy; Jenner & Block; and Shearman & Sterling.
Hughes Hubbard again topped The American Lawyer‘s A-List, also published in this issue and online. Besides pro bono, the formula that determines the A-List takes into account revenue per lawyer, associate satisfaction and diversity performance. New to the 20-firm A-list this year is Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.
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