In October 2010, the Commission and the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center joined with eleven leading law firms to launch the SAILS (Senior Attorneys Initiative for Legal Services) Project. This innovative new project, which is chaired by Marc Fleischaker, Chair Emeritus of Arent Fox, LLP, will infuse critical pro bono resources into the public interest legal community by harnessing the vast experience of the many talented senior lawyers in the District. The eleven Founding Partner firms have agreed to institutionalize a senior lawyers program at their firms through which senior attorneys will undertake substantial pro bono work as a next phase of their careers or as a component of their retirement.
The SAILS Project emerged from a meeting of law firm and legal services leaders convened by the Commission in January 2010 to examine how law firm business model changes might impact the provision of pro bono and monetary support to the legal services network. Participating leaders identified senior attorneys as a significant underutilized resource that could greatly enhance the capacity of the legal services community. They also sought to create a path for the scores of senior attorneys transitioning from billable work to continue to engage in challenging and valuable projects. In response, the Commission and the Pro Bono Program researched innovative programs underway in other jurisdictions and determined that an institutional approach to senior lawyer pro bono efforts, which focuses on law firm engagement rather than matching lawyers with individual pro bono opportunities, was the most promising way to bring an expansive and sustained senior lawyers program to scale in the District.