The free exercise of conscience by legal professionals around the world is key to making progress in some of the greatest cross-border legal challenges we face today. Unfortunately, however, following one's conscience is increasingly difficult in the modern commercial practice of law, with business concerns increasingly eclipsing pro bono or public interest considerations. Corporate policies often take into account the potential for negative impacts on business through the use of "reputational conflicts," "issue conflicts," or "positional conflicts" to exclude pro bono project proposals even though the vast majority of such "conflicts" are not actual legal conflicts at all. All too often, while corporate polcies do operate to reduce or eliminate perceived negative impacts on business, those same policies fail to take into account the negative externalities for the global public interest that arise from similar applications of such policies being made across the global market for legal services. Where public interest or pro bono projects may involve topic areas that are sensitive to clients (such as the environment, the global financial services sector, or the representation of individuals against employers), it can all too often be difficult for civil society organizations or individuals in real need of pro bono legal support to obtain the desperately needed help that we as members of the legal profession have committed to provide.
The Global Pro Bono Bar believes that legal professionals should be free to do what they feel is right in their professional lives without unnecessary limitations arising from corporate policy. Pro bono legal services decisions, like the exercise of one's individual right to vote, should be a matter of personal introspection and conscientious action rather than of corporate decision-making processes developed out of concern for private return on investment (rather than on pursuit of the public interest). In short, legal professionals should follow their own consciences in the selection and diligent pursuit of pro bono projects with the lawyerly independence that has always been fundamental to the existence of an independent legal profession promoting the administration of justice around the world.
As discussed in A Call to Revolution, The Global Pro Bono Bar's open letter to fellow members of the Bar around the world, we call upon leaders in the private sector to join in The Global Pro Bono Pledge to affirm the freedom of all legal professionals who work for them (absent any clear legal barrier) to provide pro bono or public interest legal services as a matter of individual conscience and legal professionalism, not only when it is convenient for market positioning, but rather as and when there is an opportunity to make a difference. The text of The Global Pro Bono Pledge appears below.
The PDF pledge form to take The Global Pro Bono Pledge is available at this link.
Please download and complete this form, then click on the below link to take The Global Pro Bono Pledge. Alternatively, you may contact us to discuss The Global Pro Bono Pledge by using the Contact Us page.
Thank you for your interest in The Global Pro Bono Pledge.
SIGNATORIES TO THE GLOBAL PRO BONO PLEDGE
The Global Pro Bono Bar Association
P.O. Box 55463
Houston, TX 77255
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