SAILS Project – A Senior Lawyer/Pro Bono Client Win-Win

Senior attorneys at the end of their careers doing pro bono work?  Sounds like a win-win for the senior attorneys and the pro bono clients.

WINFor a long time the legal profession has sought for all attorneys to voluntarily do pro bono work, but many young attorneys and those building their careers find it difficult to make time for pro bono work between time-consuming careers and family obligations (children and elderly parents). But generally, senior attorneys at the end of their careers facing retirement, possibly with no small children or elderly parents to care for, have the time and expertise to make a difference in the community.

In Washington, D.C., for example, the SAILS (Senior Attorney Initiative For Legal Services) Project, a joint initiative of the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program and D.C. Access to Justice Commission, “seeks to harness the experience and talent of senior law firm attorneys to assist thinly stretched legal services organizations.”  According to the D.C. Bar website, SAILS accomplishes the following:

  • Participating SAILS law firms institutionalize a structure and culture that encourages and supports their senior lawyers to undertake pro bono work as a central focus of the next phase of their careers.
  • Though the firms establish a paradigm that is appropriate to their individual setting, the goal of SAILS is to reduce barriers and create incentives for senior lawyers to consider a “pro bono path” as they transition from full–time billable work.
  • SAILS develops resources, including sample policies, to help law firms institutionalize a project that ensures senior lawyers who choose this path are supported by their firms.
  • SAILS works very closely with the legal services community to develop pro bono projects appropriate for senior lawyers that significantly expand urgently needed resources and make a rapid and palpable impact on the availability of legal help for the most vulnerable members of our community.

LPR applauds the D.C. Bar and the D.C. Access to Justice Commission for imagining and implementing the SAILS Project.  And to all of the senior attorneys who volunteer their time to SAILS (and the law firms that support them), LPR says bravo!

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Center for Legal Practice Reform
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