Pro Bono Center's Strategic Assessment
In 2015 the D.C. Bar began a comprehensive strategic planning process—D.C. Bar 2020—to define the organization's objectives and priorities over the next five years. Because of the critical role the Pro Bono Center plays in the community as a leader in improving access to justice, it was important that the Center undergo its own assessment to better understand its strengths and areas for potential development.
Jim Sandman, president of the Legal Services Corporation and former D.C. Bar Pro Bono Committee chair, guided the 19-member Strategic Assessment Task Force through a comprehensive strategic planning process. The task force examined current and anticipated external trends, challenges, and opportunities that will impact the Center's work, as well as elicited feedback from stakeholders through individual interviews, focus groups, and surveys.
However, a major survey finding showed that people were confused about the relationship between the D.C. Bar and Pro Bono Center, with about 60 percent of respondents who did not realize that the Pro Bono Center is an independent, nonprofit legal services organization whose operations are not funded by D.C. Bar member dues. To capture the breadth and depth of the Center's impact and reduce confusion, the organization was renamed from Pro Bono Program to Pro Bono Center in June 2015.
The comprehensive strategic assessment revealed key findings, which have served as the foundation for the development of a five-year strategic plan and will inform the creation of the Pro Bono Center's operational plan.
With the help of consultant MMP Associates, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit strategic planning consulting firm, the Strategic Assessment Task Force recommended three strategic priorities that will help shape the Pro Bono Center's work in the future.
- By 2020, the Pro Bono Center will significantly increase the impact of its key pro bono services.
- By 2020, the gap in legal services for people with low incomes will be narrowed.
- By 2020, the legal community will be more aware of the breadth and depth of the legal needs of low-income D.C. residents, and the client community will be more aware of the Pro Bono Center's services.
- By 2020, pro bono leadership will be diversified to include currently underutilized segments of the legal community.
- By 2020, the Pro Bono Center will have led groundbreaking initiatives to address the legal needs in the community.
- By 2020, the Pro Bono Center will have increased the reliability and diversity of its funding and grown the funding base as needed to achieve its mission. Technology is an important component of each of the strategic priorities and future objectives and strategies will incorporate technology applications.