Monday, April 6, 2009

Golden Venture's Legacy: The Pro Bono Net

Jim Luce blogs on Huffington about Pro Bono Net, a national network of lawyers working on pro bono cases that was a direct outgrowth of the Golden Venture. Luce reports:

With great foresight into emerging technologies, thought leader Mark O'Brien and co-founder Michael Hertz, who met while working on Golden Venture asylum cases at their law firms, saw a way ten years ago to prepare for this moment in time. Recognizing the potential for technology to transform access to justice, just as platforms such as,, or even TurboTax were transforming other business processes, they launched Pro Bono Net.

With even more insight, the Soros (Open Society Institute) Foundation funded it. Today Pro Bono Net's reach extends into states covering a staggering 70% of the U.S. poverty population and their websites have a membership of over 51,000 lawyers.

Pro Bono Net is at the forefront of emerging technologies, and plans to stay on top. Public libraries are already gateways for the Internet-less to their platforms, and cell phones may be next.

The programs of Pro Bono Net are as diverse as its clients: in addition to its main platform, which exists for the legal community, it has where those in need can find referrals to local legal aid and pro bono programs, information about their rights and tools for self help.