The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
May 21, 2015

Pro Bono Summer Reading

Just mercyInterested in a good read for the upcoming long weekend? With recent attention focused on events in Baltimore, Cleveland, Ferguson, Staten Island, and beyond, look no further than Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. It’s one of the most inspiring books we’ve read this year.

In his best-selling memoir, Stevenson tells the story of how he became a public interest lawyer, dedicating his career to defending the poor and the wrongly convicted and reforming our nation’s broken justice system. Among Stevenson’s many victories, which include securing relief for scores of condemned prisoners and winning a Supreme Court ruling that life sentences without parole for juveniles are unconstitutional, is his exoneration of Walter McMillian, who served six years on death row for a crime he did not commit. Through his riveting account of this case and other meaningful struggles and achievements, Stevenson documents the extent to which poverty and racial bias continue to shape and infect our criminal justice system.

Pro bono lawyers have a critical role to play in fixing our nation’s criminal justice system and ensuring equal justice for all. For more inspiration, check out Stevenson’s compelling TED talk on the topic of injustice. We hope you’ll be motivated to embark on a summer of pro bono service.

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And, as we say hello to the summer season this weekend with cookouts, swimming, and baseball games, don’t forget this Memorial Day holiday to honor and pay tribute to the men and women who paid the ultimate price and gave their lives while serving in the military. We are grateful to them and their families for their sacrifices and their service. Providing pro bono assistance to eligible veterans is a unique opportunity for lawyers to exercise our patriotic duty and in some small way repay those who served our country.

May 15, 2015

Slave Labor in Australia

chains

According to the International Labour Organization’s 2012 Global Estimate of Forced Labour, there were an estimated 20.9 million people in forced labor around the world at any given point between 2002 and 2012. The majority of those individuals, 68 percent (14.2 million), were forced to work by private individuals or enterprise in activities such as agriculture, construction, domestic work, and manufacturing. In Australia, most investigations of forced labor have related to sexual exploitation. However, in March of this year, one victim of labor exploitation secured restitution, thanks to the help of pro bono counsel from Clayton Utz.

On March 27, the Australian Federal Circuit Court found that Mr. Dulo Ram, a 45-year-old Indian native, had been trafficked from rural India to an Indian restaurant in suburban Sydney by the restaurant’s owner. The owner lured Ram with the promise of a 457 visa, which is intended to create opportunities for temporary migrant workers in Australia. With no command of English nor contacts in Australia, Ram was forced to work as a cook for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. After working this pace for 16 months, with just one day off, Ram was paid just AUD$6,958.88. He also lived, ate, bathed, and slept in the restaurant kitchen. According to Ram, the owner threatened to harm his family and have him arrested if he returned to India.

Pro bono attorneys from Clayton Utz, working in partnership with Anti-Slavery Australia, a legal research and policy center focused on the abolition of slavery, trafficking, and labor exploitation, agreed to assist Ram in securing his missing wages. After three years of pro bono representation, the team secured a judgment awarding Ram AUD$186,000 in back-pay, entitlements, and interest.

David Hillard, partner, Clayton Utz, who led the team representing Ram, commented:

 “This is happening right now, in our community, under our noses. This case shows that there are avenues for obtaining justice for the victims of labour trafficking and slavery. Compensation will not erase the demeaning, degrading experience which our client has endured, but it does say plainly that what happened to him was wrong, and cannot be tolerated under Australian law.”

In Ram’s case, pro bono counsel played an indispensable role in overcoming logjams. Although the restaurant had been visited by the Department of Immigration, and Ram had complained to the Fair Work Ombudsman, in both cases the restaurant owner used lies and falsified wage records to undermine allegations of wrongdoing. Through pro bono representation, Ram was able to expose the documents provided by the restaurant owner as a sham.

The PBEye is happy to note that Ram has been granted a permanent witness protection (trafficking) visa to remain in Australia with his family. We applaud the work of dedicated pro bono attorneys, in Australia and around the world, who are fighting for justice for the survivors of human trafficking.

May 14, 2015

Why Leaders Should Do Pro Bono

wordleWe at The PBEye spend a lot of time thinking, talking, and writing about why lawyers, law firms, and legal departments should do pro bono work.

In case you need yet another reason, check out a recent Huffington Post article on why it’s especially important for high-level business executives to lead by example and foster a culture of giving back in the workplace. The piece persuasively makes the case that volunteering can improve a leader’s emotional strength and on-the-job effectiveness, enhance their team’s confidence and problem-solving skills, and expand a business’s network of contacts. For many of the same reasons, it is important that law firm and legal department leaders serve as visible role models of pro bono engagement and promote a strong culture of pro bono service. As we’ve previously reported, there are countless other business and “bottom line benefits” of pro bono, including skills and confidence development and increased retention, productivity, and morale.

As you can see, pro bono can significantly benefit not only the clients being served, but also law firms, legal departments, and their lawyers and staff. Leave a comment and tell us about the impact that pro bono has had on your workplace.

May 12, 2015

Nonprofit Legal Education Series Going Strong in Central Ohio

On April 29, ACC Central Ohio Chapter, United Way of Central Ohio (UWCO), Barnes & Thornburg*†, and CPBO co-hosted the third in a series of free legal education programs for nonprofits, which the co-hosts developed as a supplement to CPBO’s Clinic in a Box® program.

The topic of discussion included leases and other real estate issues. Presenters Laing P. Akers, of counsel, Barnes & Thornburg; Janice L. Gresko, managing counsel, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company**; Jason Kirkham, senior counsel, real estate & procurement, Exel Inc.; Paul Nesbitt, senior corporation counsel, American Cancer Society, Inc.; and Kate Steffy, assistant general counsel, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, provided important information on legal issues related to tenant rights and obligations, insurance, landlord and tenant defaults and remedies, financing, and more.  Following the presentation, interested attendees met with volunteer attorneys who provided brief advice on real estate matters specific to their organizations.

Central Ohio series 3

When developing this series, the co-hosts understood that their efforts would bring needed assistance to nonprofit organizations unable to afford legal services. The series has also benefited the co-hosts. According to ACC Central Ohio Chapter Pro Bono Committee Co-chair Eric Henricks, the program “is drawing in some volunteers that may not be as closely involved with the ACC chapter, and allows them to be more closely connected to the chapter. It allows those volunteers to be an expert in a different setting, which supports career growth.” Bill Nolan, managing partner of Barnes & Thornburg LLP’s Ohio office, adds “We continue to enjoy playing a small part in this great collaboration to educate Central Ohio nonprofits on legal issues of importance to them. The program supplements direct pro bono service efforts by strengthening the organizations that directly provide services, and is a good way to get more of our lawyers involved in pro bono and community efforts.”

Once again, The PBEye congratulates the co-hosts on a successful program and looks forward to reporting on future installments in the series! In-house pro bono leaders interested in co-hosting a Clinic in a Box® program or developing a legal education or similar program should contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon.

May 8, 2015

Upcoming Webinar: Integrating Pro Bono, CSR, and Charitable Giving

Puzzles 2

Join us Thursday, May 28 at 12:00 p.m. ET for “Best Practices: Integrating Pro Bono, CSR, and Charitable Giving,” a one-hour program hosted in conjunction with West LegalEdCenter. This program is part of our “Best of the 2015 PBI Annual Conference” series of webinars, which reprise and supplement select sessions from the 2015 PBI Annual Conference.

Increasingly, law firms and companies are taking a fresh look at how their pro bono activities can be integrated with or complement their charitable contribution practices and corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts. This webinar will consider best practices for approaching, integrating, and managing these efforts in order to make a greater impact than any one alone can accomplish. The following panelists will address some of the potential benefits of integration, such as enhanced employee satisfaction, as well as potential concerns:

  • Jinny Jeong, Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy
  • Jake Lee, Allen & Overy†
  • Allegra Nethery, Seyfarth Shaw*
  • Sharon Sayles Belton, Thomson Reuters Corporation**

Interested in-house counsel should contact CPBO Project Assistant Josh Lefebvre for registration information or to submit questions in advance of the program. Registration is free for Law Firm Pro Bono Project Member Firms. Law firm participants should contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson for registration information.

Schedule conflict? Don’t worry – the program will also be available on-demand shortly after the original broadcast date.

* denotes a Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®
† denotes a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project
**denotes a Signatory to the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge®

 

May 7, 2015

It’s in the Mail

ChallposterSummer associates haven’t even arrived yet, but the next recruiting season at major law firms will be here before we know it. Many law students around the country are looking to join firms where pro bono is an integral part of the culture. Every year we are honored to be able to promote our Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Signatories and their demonstrated commitment to pro bono. Accordingly, the Law Firm Pro Bono Project is mailing its annual Challenge poster to the career services offices of all ABA-accredited law schools. The poster lists every Challenge Signatory, raising the visibility of these firms to make them more attractive to the very students they are trying to recruit.

Challenge Signatories will also soon be receiving their posters in the mail. Be sure to hang your poster with extra pride in every firm office, as this year marks the 20th anniversary of the Challenge. PBI will be honoring this milestone throughout the year and we encourage firms with 50 or more lawyers to join our efforts to improve access to justice. Please contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson for information on becoming a Challenge Signatory or for additional posters.

May 5, 2015

Final Reminder: CPBO Partner Award

2015 Partner Award BannerWith just a few days left, be sure to submit your nomination for the 2015 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award! Nominations are due Friday, May 8 and can be submitted via email or mail. Keep in mind that, new for this year’s selection process, CPBO may now present two awards: (1) to a partnership that includes a legal department of 50 or more lawyers; and (2) to a partnership that includes a legal department of 49 or less lawyers

The award(s), to be presented at the 2015 PBI Annual Dinner, recognize(s) innovative team approaches to pro bono work involving in-house legal departments, law firms, and public interest groups. Recipients of the award(s) must include at least one legal department and one or more law firms and/or public interest group partners.

Last year, CPBO presented the Pro Bono Partner Award to American International Group, Inc.** and the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) for their innovative partnership to provide pro bono legal services to Afghan refugees whose lives are in danger due to their work with the U.S. government. A full list of previous awardees can be found here.

For more information about the award, please contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon or click here.

**denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

May 1, 2015

Video: WDPB – Patricia Mugavero, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

We at The PBEye are always excited to hear why our friends are doing pro bono. This week, we hear from Patricia Mugavero, vice president and assistant general counsel, JPMorgan Chase & Co., as she shares her reasons for doing pro bono.

May 1, 2015

Webinar Recap — In-House Pro Bono: Trends and Benchmarking Results

In-House Pro Bono TrendsOn April 24, PBI hosted a webinar “In-House Pro Bono: Trends and Benchmarking Results,” exploring recent developments within in-house pro bono. Moderated by CPBO Director Eve Runyon, the panel included JPMorgan Chase & Co.** General Counsel, Consumer and Business Banking Michael Lipsitz; AOL Inc.** Chief Counsel Kelly O’Connor; and Hewlett-Packard Company** Director & Managing Counsel Todd Tabor.

The program discussed the recently released 2014 CPBO Benchmarking Report, which summarizes the results of a survey regarding in-house pro bono. The webinar included an overview of in-house pro bono and examples from the participants’ legal departments. The panel of in-house pro bono leaders discussed:

  • program administration
  • insurance
  • partnerships
  • projects
  • global pro bono
  • communication and recognition

Did you miss the program? Don’t worry, it’s available on-demand! In-house participants should contact CPBO Project Assistant Josh Lefebvre for registration information. Law Firm Pro Bono Project Member Firms should contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson for the promotional code to register.

CLE credit is available for this program in many states. Be sure to check back often for other online offerings and browse the other webinars available on-demand.

To find out more about in-house trends or to request a copy of the 2014 CPBO Benchmarking Report, please contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon.

 

**denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

April 30, 2015

Inclusion for All

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and there is still more work to be done to fight discrimination and promote equal access, independence, opportunity, and freedom from abuse and neglect. Disability rights issues are fertile ground for lawyers, law firms, and legal departments looking to develop or expand their pro bono practice. The range of opportunities is broad and deep, with options for both small and large-scale projects and those that would appeal to litigators and non-litigators alike. Through a variety of pro bono engagements and partnerships with advocacy organizations, pro bono lawyers can have significant and meaningful impact while being at the forefront of cutting edge legal efforts.

Many Law Firm Pro Bono Project Member Firms and Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Signatories are devoting pro bono efforts to individuals with disabilities and groups that serve them. A few inspiring examples include:

• A pro bono team from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld*†, along with the National Association of the Deaf, has filed suit in federal court on behalf of a deaf man who was incarcerated for six weeks with no interpreter or other accommodation for his inability to communicate with his jailers. The lawsuit claims that his treatment in an Arlington County, Virginia jail violated the ADA.

Ballard Spahr*† partnered with the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities at the Kennedy Krieger Institute to provide pro bono support to families raising children with disabilities through Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy, and Law). The program is a comprehensive medical-legal partnership that helps low and moderate-income families receive appropriate special education and related services through local school systems, appeal inappropriate denials of disability payments under the SSI program, challenge school disciplinary actions, and obtain representation in family law matters.

Goodwin Procter*† provided pro bono assistance to 3LPlace, which seeks to empower young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities to reach their individual potential, to follow their passion, and to live meaningful lives in their communities. Attorneys created a flexible, scalable intellectual property framework for 3LPlace’s Transition Curriculum Project, which has established a comprehensive curricula supporting individuals with autism through transition to adulthood.

To read about other innovative and impactful pro bono initiatives, visit our Resource Clearinghouse and download the Law Firm Project’s publications Spotlight on Pro Bono and Disability Rights and “Autism Speaks”: Pro Bono Lawyers Can Help. If you are new to the Resource Clearinghouse, please contact Eva Richardson to register.

We applaud pro bono volunteers and activists who are working tirelessly towards a bright future of equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, inclusion, integration, and economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities. The PBEye hopes that you will be inspired and get involved. There is an opportunity to suit the interests and talents of many pro bono lawyers!

* denotes a Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®
denotes a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project

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