History

The Pro Bono Project Stands the Test of Time...

 

In an attempt to meet the ever-increasing need for legal services by the neediest members of our community, The Louisiana Bar Foundation created the New Orleans Pro Bono Project in the fall of 1986. The Foundation's sponsorship of an organized pro bono program tapped a previously underutilized resource: the local private bar. The private bar's enthusiastic response transformed the Foundation's Pro Bono Project from mere concept to a viable full-service resource for the community.

The Project was initially funded by the New Orleans Legal Assistance Corporation, a seed grant from the American Bar Association, and in-kind services from the Louisiana Bar Foundation. Private donations began to supplement The Pro Bono Project's budget in September of 1989 in the form of its first major fundraiser, The Justice for All Ball.

The Ball, an annual event, brings together volunteers, lawyers, judges, community and governmental representatives, as well as other donors to The Project in a symbolic display of the professional and community spirit that informs The Pro Bono Project’s success. 

Approximately five years after its founding, The Project's Advisory Board of Directors felt that The Pro Bono Project had matured sufficiently to stand as an independent entity. The New Orleans Pro Bono Project was granted independent status as a non-profit, tax-exempt legal entity with 501(c) (3) standing retroactive to the filing date of August 7, 1991.

With The Project’s expansion into the Northshore by adding St. Tammany and Washington Parishes to its service areas, The Project’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to officially change the corporate name of the New Orleans Pro Bono Project to The Pro Bono Project.

The Pro Bono Project’s independent existence affords our organization maximum opportunity to be accountable to and responsible for The Project's goals and mission, while creating a greater sense of ownership by the volunteer attorneys.

Pursuing stronger ties with various local bar associations, an agreement to affiliate was reached in 1993. As a result, three additional designated members representing the Jefferson, New Orleans, and St. Bernard Bar Associations were added to The Pro Bono Project’s board of directors. In January of 2000, The Project added another board position to represent its expansion into the 22nd Judicial District.  

The Project is funded with assistance from Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, the Louisiana Bar Foundation's IOLTA grant, Title III funds, HUD, filing fees from the judicial districts we serve, and other corporate, foundation, and individual donations.

Through strong ties with the legal community, social service agencies, the state, and surrounding parishes’ associations, The Project continues to fulfill its mission to provide access to the civil legal system and justice for those in need.