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Pro Bono Center Strategic Assessment Task Force: Looking Back and Planning for the Future

By Jeffery Leon

June 8, 2016

Pro Bono Strategic Assessment Task Force

On June 15 the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center Strategic Assessment Task Force will be honored as a co-recipient of this year's Frederick B. Abramson Award for its significant undertaking in 2015: conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the Pro Bono Center's programming and laying down the roadmap for its future initiatives.

The strategic assessment, the Pro Bono Center's first since 1992, will serve as the foundation for a five-year strategic plan that will help shape and inform the Center's work. Here, James Sandman, president of the Legal Services Corporation who was called on to lead the 19-member Strategic Assessment Task Force, offers an inside look of the task force's efforts.

What were the highlights of working with the Strategic Assessment Task Force?

This was a wonderful group effort with broad and complete participation from people who have very valuable experience in doing pro bono work with and through the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center. It was the first time in more than 20 years that there had been a comprehensive look at the work the Pro Bono Center was doing, with an eye toward reexamining our goals and objectives.

In the course of 20 years, the Pro Bono Center has grown enormously, involving many more lawyers and providing many more services than the Center had provided when it was first set up under a different name in the early 1990s. The group did a spectacular job of assessing where the Pro Bono Center had been and where we should be moving to, and being both pragmatic and aspirational in establishing goals for the Center.

What were some of the challenges the task force faced?

The Center had done a lot of work over the prior 20-plus years. To consider the volume of work [it has] completed is significant. We did surveys; we had a lot of input from focus groups and from the Bar on the work of the Center. Making sense of that, working through it, trying to determine what it meant and how we could mold it into a plan going forward was a challenge.

What are you most proud of with this group?

I'm most proud of the teamwork, how varied groups from a number of different perspectives were able to come together and accomplish a very significant task very efficiently. I feel that the work product will be of enormous value to the Pro Bono Center for years going forward.

How do you feel about receiving the Abramson Award?

It's a great honor. Every year there are a number of individuals and groups doing great things for the Bar and our task force is grateful and humbled to have been selected for the Abramson Award.

Other comments?

Our task force got wonderful support from the staff of the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center. They were helpful, invested, and open, not entrenched. They were very engaged in the process and not fearful of it.

Join us in honoring the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center Strategic Assessment Task Force at our Celebration of Leadership on June 15. The Bar's annual awards will be held at the Mayflower Hotel at 7 p.m.