JACKSON — The law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC, has revised its pro bono policy in a move that could significantly increase the number of hours that its nearly 550 attorneys spend providing free legal services to people of limited means.
The firm has implemented a new pro bono policy that provides billable hour credit to all attorneys for up to 50 hours per year of pro bono work, up from the previous credit total of 20 hours per year.
According to Lisa Borden, Baker Donelson’s pro bono shareholder, the change is designed to encourage the firm’s attorneys to dedicate even more of their time to providing legal representation free of charge to those who otherwise could not afford the services of an attorney.
In 2005, the firm established a committee to implement programs to promote the quality and quantity of the pro bono work being performed by Baker Donelson attorneys. In 2007, the firm created the new position of pro bono shareholder, naming Borden to that position to work with the committee in overseeing the development and administration of pro bono programs throughout Baker Donelson’s 15 offices in five states and Washington, D.C. That move made Baker Donelson the first law firm in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee — and one of only 20 of the top 100 law firms in the country — with a dedicated pro bono office and firm-wide pro bono manager.