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Hogan Lovells report decline in pro bono hours

Posted by: Laurence Simons 09/08/12

But more is being done to boost the corporation's socially responsible doings

Hogan Lovells' staff carried out 15 per cent fewer pro bono hours in 2011 than the year before, according to reports published this week by the firm.

The annual corporate social responsibility (CSR) briefing detailed the exact number of hours dedicated by staff worldwide to charitable and underfunded causes, which in 2010 totalled 122,935 hours across 40 of Hogan Lovells' 43 offices dotted around the globe.

2011 painted a different picture though, as the firm revealed, its 5,069 in-house legal staff provided 104,047 pro bono hours to various causes.

But partner Crispin Rapinet defended the figures, noting that despite the decrease in actual hours, the firm had actually done more for the community, including a campaign that solicited donations from corporations which raised £76,000 in just the first day of its launch.

"We have always placed greater emphasis on the impact of our pro bono efforts on the people and communities with whom we work, rather than simply looking at the number of hours recorded by our lawyers around the world," he said.

"The impact of our pro bono elfforts has been recognised by several external bodies in the last year - we were very proud to be one of the first 50 businesses in the UK to achieve Business in the Community's coveted CommunityMark for our work with London communities in need of support and assistance."
Corporate responsibility coupled with pro bono efforts have often been an outlet for law firms wanting to show a 'friendly face' to their business - especially important in attracting civic-minded clients as even the most powerful corporations grow beating hearts and care about the environment and the surrounding community.

But it needs to be more than vague promises to recycle and the odd photograph of those in legal careers looking awkward while surrounded by charity beneficiaries.

As Gwendolyn W Jaramillo noted in the June 2012 issue of Natural Gas and Electricity, the corporate responsibility policies enforced by various firms can boost client relations and even impact on the company's bottom line.

"Making a CSR commitment is an important step," she writes, "but the ability to build on that aspiration to concretely improve the impact of the company's operations on stakeholders and communities is where the real value and benefit of the commitment to the company lies."