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American Bar Association

Faith-Based Pro Bono

Faith based organizations are increasingly becoming a vital component of the provision of legal assistance to low-income persons. Pro bono organizations are becoming more aware of the financial, volunteer, and leadership resources available through faith based groups. The models for partnerships between legal services providers and faith-based resources are numerous and depend in large part on the goals of the partnership.

Models of Partnerships

Models of partnerships between providers of legal assistance and faith based organizations are limited only by the creativity of the partners. Existing partnerships generally focus on four concerns:

  1. intake,

  2. recruiting,

  3. clinics (particularly site location) and

  4. a holistic approach to client issues.

Specific models of partnerships between legal providers and faith based organizations range from the use of church space for intake or clinics to accessing new financial resources through religious communities.

For example, programs have approached religious organizations to assist in recruiting volunteers. Many programs have realized that shelters and other social programs run by faith based groups are natural partners in holistic delivery, as such programs generally have extensive experience dealing with the non-legal issues common among clients. Religious organizations, such as churches or synagogues, may provide a new pool of potential volunteers or space for clinics.

The Center has collected, and continues to collect, information about these resources in order to encourage pro bono organizations to consider new ways to reach out to and draw on faith based resources in the delivery of legal assistance. The Center's Clearinghouse contains articles such as Professional and Christian Responsibilities to the Poor, by Robert F. Cochran, Jr. Also available is a two-article series in Dialogue on faith based resources.

The Center for Pro Bono hosts a listserv dedicated to the discussion of faith based resources in the delivery of legal assistance. For more information on the listserv, please e-mail .

Tell Us about Your Faith-Based Pro Bono Efforts

If your program partners with a faith based organization in the delivery of pro bono legal services, the Center for Pro Bono would like to hear about it and include information about your program in the Center's Pro Bono Clearinghouse . Please send information to Cheryl Zalenski, 321 North Clark Street , Chicago IL 60654, or .

Updated: 7/27/2012

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