Law schools across the country are gearing up for early interview week, and many students have their future careers on their minds. With so many things to take into account when considering their livelihoods, how can law students create meaningful distinction between firms? Perhaps they can take a look at the firms’ pro bono numbers.
Over the course of the last year, members of the legal profession sprang into action to deal with crisis after crisis after crisis, offering their services without cost to those in need. From health and humanitarian aid during the ongoing pandemic to racial justice initiatives to protecting reproductive rights in states where strict abortion laws had been enacted, lawyers in America were inspired to do their very best to help those who needed their assistance the very most.
But which law firms were able to contribute the most to society?
The American Lawyer has compiled a ranking of Am Law 200 firms based on their pro bono work in 2021. Half of their scores come from the average number of pro bono hours per lawyer, while the other half represents the percentage of lawyers who performed more than 20 hours of pro bono work.
Here are the top 10 firms for the rocky legal year that was 2021:
- Covington & Burling
- Jenner & Block
- Patterson Belknap
- Munger Tolles
- Hogan Lovells
- Paul Hastings
- Arnold & Porter
It should be noted that at each firm listed, the average attorney performed 125 hours or more of pro bono work last year, and the Am Law 200 as a whole contributed about 4.59 million hours of pro bono work. These numbers are down from the hellish year that was 2020 (perhaps due to last year’s rapid lateral churn and perhaps due to remote work coming to an end), but leaders in the pro bono space are hopeful participation will rally. “Even if we were busy, the suffering doesn’t go away,” said Debbie Berman, co-chair of Jenner & Block’s pro bono practice, in an Am Law interview. “The needs don’t go away.”
Congratulations to the Biglaw firms where attorneys chose compassion during an incredibly very busy year. Your efforts will not be forgotten.
The 2022 Pro Bono Scorecard: National Rankings [American Lawyer]
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.