Pro Bono Net Inc. is a legal advocacy group that connects its users to legal assistance and resources through the internet and digital applications. Founded in 1999 through a grant from the Open Society Foundations, it also receives funding from Microsoft, left-of-center advocacy group Restaurant Worker’s Community Foundation, and the grantmaking organizations American Bar Association Endowment, Carnegie Corporation of New York, and Grove Foundation. Its programs are in use in more 40 states. 1
In 2015, this organization received a $250,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for its work with immigrants. 2
Immigration Advocates Network is the parent organization of a group of programs and campaigns designed and supported by Pro Bono Net to assist low-income immigrants with legal issues. Created in 2007, the program enjoys the sponsorship of the American Civil Liberties Union, UnidosUS, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, the National Immigration Law Center, and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. 3
Citizenship Works is a website maintained by Pro Bono Net that assists immigrants with applying for U.S. citizenship. The website features a comparison page showing the difference between itself and the official United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website, which it alleges offers comparatively little assistance. 4
Immi.org, a project of Pro Bono Net and Immigration Advocates Network, functions as a companion website to Citizenship Works, with links to aid those seeking legal assistance. The website features a questionnaire to find out if a person is eligible to apply for citizenship, as well as links to information regarding naturalization, asylum, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. 5
#StandWithImmigrants is a hashtag campaign the group created in 2017 to create awareness and solidarity with issues surrounding immigration. 6
Pro Bono Net hosts the Family Offense Petition Program, an electronic court filing application that allows those seeking restraining orders relating to domestic abuse to fill out the relevant paperwork ahead of time. The petitioner must still appear in court in person, and the petition will not be filed until then. 7
In partnership with the Empire Justice Center, the Center of Human Research Services, and the New York State Office of Victim’s Services, Pro Bono Net runs a website that links to online resources for victims of crime in New York. The website offers free, downloadable legal forms, and a digital application to help victims apply for compensation. 8
ClosingtheGapNY.org and FamilyLegalConnection.org are remote legal platforms that connect users with pro bono attorneys and legal aid advocates. ClosingtheGap’s work is primarily focused on assisting those in rural communities, while FamilyLegal works in urban areas. Both assist low-income communities to arrange in-court, pro bono help with consumer debt, evictions, family law, and other issues. 9
LawHelp Interactive is a website for both lawyers and those in need of legal aid that assists with completing legal forms. The tool guides users through an interview that automatically fills out the relevant documents. Similarly, Live-Help offers an online chat service to assist users in finding legal help. Although the live chat agents are not allowed to offer legal advice, they can refer the user to an outside organization that will assist them. 10
Legal Risk Detector is a digital application designed particularly for the elderly and those working in elder care. Described as a “legal health checkup tool.” Launched in 2016 in partnership with the Center for Elder Law and Justice at Georgetown Law School and the Jewish Association Servicing the Elderly, the program is designed to detect and prevent vulnerabilities and fraud against the elderly. 11
Mark O’Brien is executive director and co-founder of Pro Bono Net. He is also an adjunct professor at Georgetown Law School and the former pro bono coordinator at New York law firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell. 12
- “Supporters.” Pro Bono Net. Accessed July 18, 2022. https://www.probono.net/about/supporters/
- “Probono.net” MacArthur Foundation. Accessed July 18, 2022. https://www.macfound.org/grantee/probononet-33612/
- “Projects.” Immigration Advocates. Accessed July 18, 2022. https://www.immigrationadvocates.org/projects/
- “About Citizenship.” Citizenship Works. Accessed July 18, 2022. https://www.citizenshipworks.org/en/citizenship
- “About.” IMMI. Accessed July 18, 2022. https://www.immi.org/es/Info/About
- “#StandWithImmigrants.” Immigration Advocates. Accessed July 18, 2022. https://www.immigrationadvocates.org/swi-project/
- “Family Offense Petition Program.” Pro Bono Net. Accessed July 18, 2022. https://www.probono.net/ny/family/fop_project/
- “Victims Compensation Online Claim Application Guide.” Accessed July 18, 2022. https://crimevictimshelpny.org/
- “Closing the Gap.” Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York. Accessed July 18, 2022. https://www.lasnny.org/volunteer/closing-the-gap/#:~:text=Closing%20the%20Gap’s%20goal%20is,the%20Closing%20the%20Gap%20website.
- “Welcome.” Law-Help Interactive. Accessed July 18, 2022. https://lawhelpinteractive.org/.
- “Legal Risk-Detector.” Pro Bono Net. Accessed July 18, 2022. https://www.probono.net/programs/risk-detector/
- Pro Bono Net, Inc. Return of an Organization Exempt From Income Tax (Form 990). 2019.