How law firms can utilize pro bono clients for new business

The Brief
Attorneys who engage in pro bono work may value these non-billable hours for the good feeling they inspire and the social good they represent, but what many ignore are the opportunities for new client acquisition and revenue generation that pro bono work can open up. With the right tools, firms of every size can capture this business.

Law firms across the country spend more than 3 percent of their billable hours on pro bono clients. Why? Siphoning away billable hours might seem counterintuitive (good feelings aside), but the fact is, pro bono clients represent key strategic opportunities for revenue generation. The public relations boost is one thing, sure, but what about the revenue locked away in the relationships your firm builds and nurtures through its pro bono programs? How can those be unlocked for the firm’s benefit?

First, it’s critical to understand how these pro bono relationships fit into your firm’s network. Each client represents a contact point, a gateway to another network, over which it exerts influence. Say your nonprofit client has a board comprising eight members. Well, according to BoardSource’s 2015 National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices, there’s a good chance two of those members serve on additional two nonprofit boards, and at least one probably serves on the board of a corporation. One of those contacts may be looking for quality legal services. The point is, all that access adds up.

Professional services firms are already seeing the benefits of their pro bono relationships. For instance, after Deloitte implemented a pro bono program, 84 percent of the program’s projects resulted in boosts in relationships or exposure that aided new business acquisition.

So then, how can your firm mine its own relationship capital for revenue-generating opportunities? To find out, download RelSci’s latest white paper, “Leverage pro bono clients for new business opportunities.”


RelSci helps create competitive advantage for leading corporate, financial and nonprofit organizations through a crucial yet vastly underutilized asset: relationship capital with influential decision makers. ​​​​​

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