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Strategic Assessment

Pro Bono Center Priorities

Promoting the increase of pro bono services in the District of Columbia.

The Pro Bono Program is currently filling critical unmet needs in the community and its services are highly regarded by its clients, volunteers and its partners, particularly the D.C. Superior Court. But service gaps in the community remain. Internal as well as external stakeholders indicated the Pro Bono Program is in a position to address some of the unmet legal needs of people with low incomes in the District, by reviewing existing strategies and developing new ones to promote the increase of pro bono services. The Pro Bono Program will grow current volunteer pools while cultivating new pro bono resources by educating the legal profession about the unmet legal needs of the community. 

Although the Pro Bono Program is well regarded by clients and the legal community, most of the stakeholders surveyed or interviewed noted that they knew only a portion of the breadth and depth of the services the Pro Bono Program offers. Stakeholders indicated the need for more education among individuals, community-based organizations and small businesses, as well as the legal community, about the full range of Pro Bono Program services. Better publicity of its programs, services and resources in a consistent manner, especially when those services are offered in other venues (such as the courts and at other nonprofit organizations), will support this effort. It was also noted that an effort to better publicize and inform the public will help distinguish the Pro Bono Program from the D.C. Bar and the D.C. Bar Foundation. Education can assist with recruiting more volunteers and increase the number of clients who are aware of and make use of the Pro Bono Program's services.

Providing innovative pro bono leadership. 

The Pro Bono Program has the opportunity to lead in the cultivation and delivery of pro bono services through innovative "big picture" projects and reforms that harness new and existing pro bono resources to address the unmet legal needs of people living in poverty in the District. The Pro Bono Program has a positive reputation in the community, in part due to its affiliation with the D.C. Bar, which stakeholders indicated provides the Program with legitimacy in the legal community and contacts with leaders in the industry, and because of its relationships with large law firms and the D.C. Superior Court. The Pro Bono Program's position in the legal community makes it uniquely situated to leverage and provide innovative pro bono leadership. 

Ensuring long-term financial sustainability and resilience.  

While the Pro Bono Program has enjoyed relatively stable funding to operate its existing programs, the strategic assessment process shed light on current and future challenges. As firms merge and associate classes shrink, the Pro Bono Program may experience a change in financial contributions from its traditional funding sources. The current climate is a challenging one to meet the existing needs, the needs of the strategic plan and the needs of the community. To address these challenges, the Pro Bono Program will need to diversify its funding streams.