THE FORREST FIRM’S PRO BONO AND VOLUNTEERISM POLICY

ffsquareBy James Forrest

At the Forrest Firm, we recognize that every attorney has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay. Under Rule 6.1 of the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct, an attorney should aspire to render significant pro bono legal services per year. In addition, part of our mission statement is to positively impact our community, and a natural way to do so is through furthering the legal profession and volunteerism.

As a Certified B Corporation®, a designation we earned earlier this year, we believe that our firm should take the lead in enabling and motivating each attorney to fulfill these activities focused on others, rather than maximize pure profitability and demand an unreasonable number of billable hours.  To that end, the Forrest Firm has adopted a Pro Bono and Volunteerism Policy that encourages each full time attorney to participate in pro bono legal services and other volunteer/community activities.  Each full time attorney is paid dollar for dollar on these hours in the same way they are compensated for billable time up to a certain number of hours each year.  We believe that this policy will lead to greater personal involvement in the community, a heightened awareness of the needs of others, and correspondingly higher satisfaction in each attorney’s overall practice.

An example of some of the activities that qualify for the policy are: (a) pro bono legal services (i.e., individual and class representation, the provision of legal advice, legislative lobbying, administrative rule making, the provision ofree training or mentoring to those who represent persons of limited means), (b) activities geared towards improving the law, the legal system or the legal profession (i.e., serving on bar association committees, serving on boards of pro bono or legal services programs, taking part in Law Day activities, and acting as a continuing legal education instructor, a mediator, or an arbitrator), (c) civic volunteerism (i.e., non-profit boards, volunteer time).

A substantial majority of any pro bono legal services hours should be provided to: (a) persons of limited means, (b) charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters that are designed primarily to address the needs of persons of limited means, or (c) individuals, groups or organizations seeking to secure or protect civil rights, civil liberties or public rights, or charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters in furtherance of their organizational purposes, where the payment of standard legal fees would significantly deplete the organization’s economic resources or would be otherwise inappropriate.

As we have experienced growth in our firm and client base, we are enjoying the range of benefits that our clients are seeing from a talented group of attorneys building relationships across multiple specialties and areas of focus for their respective practices. While a fast-growing firm must meet the challenges of business like any other company, it’s our duty as legal professionals and as employees of a Certified B Corporation® to balance our economic concerns with actions that will benefit the public good. As we continue to grow, we will maintain strict adherence to the principles of this Pro Bono and Volunteerism policy, being good stewards of the resources with which we have been given.