democrattotheend wrote:Hi. Thanks for doing this...this thread has been very informative for me, even though I am only a 0L, because I think it's important to gain insight into what lawyers actually do before making the investment in law school. Threads like this are helpful because they go beyond what the firms tell you on their website and give insight into what it's actually like, so I appreciate your taking the time.
Here's my question: A lot of firms tout pro bono on their website, and many state that they give billable hours credit for pro bono and that they treat pro bono hours the same as other hours for bonuses, promotions, etc. Do they really mean that, or is it just PR? Is it looked down upon to do too much pro bono work, even if the firm gives billable hours credit? If so, how many hours of pro bono work are considered acceptable to count towards billable?
If you are not at a firm that gives billable credit for pro bono, my specific question may not be relevant, but either way, can you give me a general sense of how pro bono work is viewed by managing partners and other people who have a say in whether you stay or not?
Many firms take pro bono seriously. What that means is that they give you credit, and it counts the same as billable hours, but there are generally limits to how much pro bono you can do. For example, some firms have minimum billables that pro bono will count towards, but only a certain amount (ex: 2000 billables, first 100 pro bono counts towards 2000). I feel like even at the firms that take it seriously, there's usually a core of die hard pro bono champions and most everyone else is much less gung ho about it. Now, if you're billing over 2000 hours and doing a good amount of pro bono, that will probably look good, especially if you're working well over 2000 billable. But if you're not making your other hours and doing tons of pro bono, that's going to be a problem at most firms. That is unless you're doing very high profile pro bono work (Supreme Court appeals or other work that gets the firm noticed in a good way).