A growing number of law firms have cultivated “pro bono junkies,” or PBJs—attorneys who are so dedicated to pro bono work, they will perform it no matter what, according Esther Lardent, CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Pro Bono Institute.

About 140 law firms are participating in the Institute’s pro bono challenge, committing 3 percent to 5 percent of their hours to pro bono work. The Maryland Professional Rules of Conduct ask attorneys to “aspire” to perform 50 hours of public interest work annually.

Ballard Spahr attorney Amy M. McClain is the pro bono coordinator for the firm’s Baltimore office. In that work, she said she had an emotional and humbling experience obtaining asylum for an Ethiopian woman seeking to reunite with her children.

“A lot of folks … entered the legal profession with the objective of making a different in the world,” Ms. McClain said. “Just because we ended up in a private firm doesn’t mean we can’t continue to make that difference.”

Related Area

Pro Bono