Recruitment of pro bono program volunteers can take many forms. Recruitment activities can be as simple as placing signs or “table tents” in you local courtrooms, as formal as a luncheon; as educational as a CLE provided free to pro bono attorney and as inviting as an open house or reception. As you undertake a recruitment efforts part of your planning should include selecting the a targeted audience and identifying the local bar or judicial leaders who will assist with the recruitment effort.
Below are recruitment resources developed by the Pro Bono Celebration Task Force. If you need have any questions about these materials please contact Linda Lund, Director of the Alabama State Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program at (334) 269-1515.
Think of creative ways to recruit new volunteers while also celebrating, appreciating and recognizing current volunteer lawyers.
Have a party!
Throw a celebration to recognize the good work being done by volunteer lawyers in your community. Relax and enjoy spending time together. Pat yourselves on the back for a job well done, and talk with other volunteers about their experiences. Some ideas include:
- Invite the local media to take pictures and highlight volunteer lawyers
- Invite local community leaders and officials
- Beer or wine tasting
- Breakfast, lunch, or after work reception at or near the Courthouse
- Mexican & Margaritas
- Roast local lawyers and/or judges
- Local musicians performing
- Family friendly cookout or picnic on the weekend
- Free admission for everyone who brings a new volunteer to be enrolled
- Silent auction to raise money for access to justice
- Sponsorship by local law firms or the local bar association
- Giveaways like t-shirts, cups and notepads with pro bono celebration logo
County Bar Association Luncheon
Consider holding your Local Bar Association meeting during Pro Bono Week. Have the meeting focus on Pro Bono Recognition honoring all those who perform pro bono services during the year. The Volunteer Lawyers Program will be happy to provide you with a list of local volunteers and may also be able to supply certificates for volunteers if you provide adequate notice. Also consider presenting the one hour CLE contained in these materials as part of the luncheon.
Meet the Judges – Open House and Judicial Reception
Invite area attorneys to attend a reception with members of the local judiciary. At the reception recognize local Volunteer Lawyer Program members or outstanding pro bono attorneys. An event like this did not occur in Alabama last year but several other states held this type of event, including Florida and Mississippi. Events were held at local law firms and court houses.
Volunteer Lawyers Reception
The Montgomery County Bar sponsored a party in October 2009, at the Renaissance Hotel. This celebration was free for members of the Volunteer Lawyers Program. There was a cover charge of $10 for all non-members. You could enroll in the Volunteer Lawyers Program on site in order to gain free entry. All bar members and their guests were invited to attend.
Courtroom Trial Table Tents: “Have you done your pro bono today?”
During the week of the National Pro Bono Celebration, place table tents on the trial tables in the courtrooms of your county and city courthouses. The table tents asks lawyers “Have you done your pro bono today?” The Alabama State Bar Pro Bono Week Task Force has table tents available for your use. Please call and request your table tents from Linda Lund, 1-800-354-6154.
Bar Association Phone-A-Thon
National surveys have shown that many attorneys do not engage in pro bono because they were never asked. Help solve this problem by holding a phone-a-thon calling local bar members and encouraging them to join the Volunteer Lawyers Program. Alabama’s local bars have a long and storied history of service to the community, particularly in the area of legal service to the poor, pro bono recruitment simply demonstrates the bar’s commitment to the provision of legal services to the poor. The Volunteer lawyers Program can provide you with a list of current VLP members allowing you to contact only those not already involved.
- For enrollment forms or assistance with recruitment activities contact the Alabama State Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program, 1-800-354-6154.
- Enrollment forms can also be found on line at the Alabama State Bar web site, alabar.bigdev.co or from your local VLP program. All enrollment forms submitted to the Alabama State Bar will be distributed to the appropriate VLP program.
- For additional pro bono week activities see the Alabama State Bar’s web site alabar.bigdev.co and the American Bar Association web site www.celebrateprobono.org.
The Young Lawyer’s Section conducts a five location phone-a-thon, where they are able to recruit hundreds of new members to the VLP. The following are some helpful tips for success:
- Have all your volunteers gather at one location for a set period of time. Some locations chose the 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon time frame and others the 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. slot, but, whichever you choose, have all the volunteers at the location making calls at the same time.
- A television station is an excellent place to have a phonathon as television stations typically have the necessary phone lines to do the job. Other possibilities are colleges and larger law firms.
- Have all your volunteers review the list of people to be called and let them select those people they know. It is a lot easier to convince someone you know to do something than having a cold call with someone you don’t know.
- If your phone call is successful, be sure to sign the would be member up over the telephone, i.e., fill out the form for them during the telephone conversation, so that, once the conversation ends, they are a member of VLP.
- Be sure to involve the director of VLP for the location you are trying to increase. During our phonathon, the Madison County VLP Director, the Birmingham Bar VLP Director, the South Alabama VLP Director and the Alabama State Bar VLP Director were all involved and assisted in the phonathon.
- Make sure your callers are members of VLP. It is difficult for a caller to convince someone to join VLP if he/she is not also a member.
- Many times, the person that is called will say that he or she does not think his or her practice experience would be suited for VLP work. Be sure to go through each of the categories listed on the respective VLP signup form, because the categories are so broad that almost anyone would fit into them.