Board kicks in for new statewide pro bono coordinator Board kicks in for new statewide pro bono coordinator September 15, 2005 Regular News The Board of Governors has committed to provide $50,000 for each of the next two years to partner with The Florida Bar Foundation in revamping the statewide pro bono coordinator program.“Some of you know we have had this program in the past. It costs $50,000 and is a very tailored and refined program,” Budget Chair Mayanne Downs told the board August 26. “[Foundation Executive Director] Jane Curran told us we’re seeing a reduction in hours for pro bono. Although we’re a flagship state [in providing pro bono services] we’re seeing a reduction in hours.”Program Evaluation Committee Chair Frank Walker said his committee also recommended the expenditure, saying it continues a worthy effort.“This will continue the long-term partnership the Bar has had with the Foundation in this area. It’s a great thing,” he said.The board unanimously approved the expenditure.According to information provided by the Foundation, the two organizations and three private firms combined to raise $130,000 in 2000 to hire a statewide pro bono director. That director left after a year, and it was decided to combine that job with one in Florida Legal Services, Inc., called the Statewide Resource Development Project.That was done in 2003, after a study to recommend how that new position should be focused. The project included working with major law firms to funnel their pro bono efforts to help legal aid agencies with complex legal matters, and helping some Bar sections with their pro bono programs. The project also helped promote the Bar’s Lawyers Challenge for Children program.The part-time director of that effort recently resigned, and the Foundation has again studied the position to determine best how to boost statewide pro bono efforts.“The new statewide pro bono initiative will enable Florida Legal Services to build upon the past successes and significantly expand the opportunities for pro bono service,” according to the Foundation. “The focus on major law firms, Bar sections, and corporate counsel offices will not only expand the number of attorneys providing assistance to those in need, but because of their leadership in the profession will help spur the development of pro bono culture in the profession.”Besides expanding those existing efforts, the new director will also work on developing a Web site to support pro bono services and improve media contacts to publicize pro bono activities.“moving the project to providing real and visible value not only to families in need of legal assistance but to lawyers and the profession, we are confident that the ongoing support for the project will expand and the services available through the statewide pro bono project will continue to be refined and grow,” the Foundation said.According to the Foundation, the number of lawyers individually providing pro bono and the amount of those services has grown slowly in the past few years, and at a lower rate than the growth of the Bar. The number of law firms providing services through a firm plan and the amount of those services actually declined in 2003-04, the latest year for which figures are available.