In addition to pro bono assistance, a law department’s members can contribute in another way: company-wide public service efforts. Data from the 2006 ACC’s Seventh Annual Chief Legal Officer Survey at 9, shows how 848 chief legal officers or general counsel responded to four choices for the question “Which of the following issues are important to you as the leader of an in-house legal department (select all that apply)?”.
Some 260 respondents skipped this question, which suggests to me that they found none of the four choices relevant to them. Of those that did, their least important was “participation in pro bono services” (18.4% chose it), the next most-frequently chosen was “diversity within outside firms” (24.8%), followed by “diversity within the department” (43.4%).
Of the four choices, by far the most important for the 588 respondents was “participation in company-wide public service efforts” (60.4%). I suppose this includes activities like United Way, Habitat for Humanity and myriad other programs and charities.
Pro bono means providing legal services at no charge; community public service encompasses any kind of activity that helps people generally (See my posts of Sept. 10, 2005 with some thoughts on pro bono commitments by law departments; and May 7, 2006 about Computer Associates, morale and pro bono.).