The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
August 3, 2015

Meet the 2015 PBI Annual Dinner Co-Chairs

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The 2015 PBI Annual Dinner, to be held November 5 at Gotham Hall in New York City, is quickly approaching and we at the The PBEye hope to see you there! This year’s annual dinner, “Celebrate the Future of Pro Bono,” acknowledges all we have accomplished in the 20 years since launching the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® while we prepare for  the challenges ahead. Once again, PBI is honored to have three co-chairs.

Fong-web Ivan Fong
Senior Vice President, Legal Affairs and General Counsel
3M Company
Hart-web Brett Hart
Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary
United Continental Holdings, Inc.
Jordan-web Greg Jordan
Executive Vice President and General Counsel
The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.

Read more about the 2015 Annual Dinner Co-Chairs here. To support the Annual Dinner, please download the Sponorship Packet, or contact Kelly Simon (202.729.6691) for more information.

July 30, 2015

Looking for Transactional Pro Bono Opportunities?

As part of the “Best of the 2015 PBI Annual Conference” webinar series, PBI recently hosted “Pro Bono for Entrepreneurial Clients: Small Businesses and Social Entrepreneurs.” The following panel of pro bono leaders explored best practices for providing pro bono representation to small businesses and social entrepreneurs:wordle

A growing number of transactional pro bono opportunities involve eligible small businesses and social entrepreneurs and much of this work requires the specialized skills of transactional attorneys. The panelists shared recent pro bono successes, both at home and abroad, as well as the lessons they have learned as leaders providing services to these transformative “change agents.”

One of the most important takeaways was the profound impact that this type of pro bono work can have. By helping individual clients stabilize their own situations, pro bono lawyers can also indirectly provide chronically underserved communities with the basic services and economic boost they need to thrive.

Want to learn more about how transactional attorneys can get involved in pro bono work? Visit our Resource Clearinghouse and download “Transactional Pro Bono Opportunities for Law Firm and In-House Attorneys,” which is free for Law Firm Pro Bono Project Members and available to all others for purchase. (If you are new to the Resource Clearinghouse, please contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson to register.)

Missed the webinar? Don’t worry – the program, which is eligible for CLE credit in many jurisdictions, is available on-demand. Access is free for Law Firm Project Members Firms. Law firm participants should contact Eva Richardson for registration information and in-house participants should contact CPBO Project Assistant Josh Lefebvre.

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

Hat tip to PBI intern Ali Remick for her help with this post.

July 24, 2015

In-House Pro Bono in Chicago

Last week,chicago bean CPBO returned to Chicago to meet with in-house pro bono leaders from the metro area as well as co-host the annual ACC Chicago Clinic in a Box® program with the ACC Chicago Chapter, DLA Piper*†, and the Law Project.

First, CPBO met with local in-house pro bono leaders to discuss ways to build and improve in-house pro bono programs and to share recent developments in in-house pro bono.  Hosted by Aon Corporation**, attendees talked about how they can collaborate to further expand in-house pro bono and assist those in need.

Early the next day, at the offices of DLA Piper, CPBO welcomed 54 attorneys and professional staff from legal departments throughout Chicagoland, who were eager to assist 15 of the area’s local nonprofits. To prepare for the clinic, the volunteers, who came with a wide variety of practice experience, began the day with an hour and a half training session led by attorneys from DLA Piper, covering five areas of law relevant to nonprofit organizations. Volunteers then worked in teams to conduct a legal audit of their assigned client, identifying issues of concern and providing guidance as needed.

Through providing legal assistance to these nonprofits, the volunteers have helped ensure the services that these organizations offer to the community — ranging from support for senior citizens to employment services to local arts programming — can be sustained.  One client expressed great appreciation for the “detailed and practical information” and another remarked that the takeaways from the clinic will “truly enhance the operations of [the] organization.” Congratulations to the volunteers for their dedication to increasing access to justice!

Those interested in reading more about in-house pro bono training opportunities, including past CPBO Clinic in a Box® programs, should click here and here. To learn more about hosting a Clinic in a Box® program or about in-house pro bono, please contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon.

 

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

**denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

July 17, 2015

Chief Legal Officers Speak Out on Pro Bono

Chief legal officers have been at the forefront of the incredible growth of in-house pro bono.  Many have publicly emphasized the importance of engaging in pro bono not just for their own legal departments but for every lawyer.

At theRandy Milch video clip (w. play button) 2014 PBI Annual Dinner, Randy Milch, former general counsel and current executive vice president and strategic policy advisor, Verizon Communications Inc.**, shared why pro bono service is important and spoke about the tremendous need for attorneys to volunteer and become evangelists for pro legal services. In his remarks, Milch, acknowledging that more than 80 percent of the legal needs of low-income individuals go unmet, stated, “We have to become beacons, each one of us, about the importance of providing legal assistance to the poor in our country.” He continued, “There are no issues … that should prevent you from participating and prevent you from encouraging all of those around you from participating.”

FBruce Kuhlik video clip (w. play button)or Bruce Kuhlik, former executive vice president and general counsel at Merck & Co., Inc.**, there are many reasons to do pro bono, including fulfilling one’s professional responsibility, but it boils down to “it’s just the right thing to do.” Indeed, for many attorneys, general counsel included, the key motivations for providing pro bono services are their desire to use their unique skills as an attorney to help those who need them the most.  

At the 2015 PBI Annual Conference, Bill Casazza, executive vice president and general counsel, Law & Regulatory Affairs, Aetna, Inc.** (recipient of the 2015 Laurie D. Zelon Award), shared his perspective on how his legal department’s pro bono program has maintained its commitment to pro bono for more than 30 years. Casazza cites three reasons.  One, the foundation of Aetna’s success is that it receives substantial support from the top, including from the general counsel and CEO.  Aetna’s program also is not just limited to litigation; it leverages the unique skills of a wide variety of the lawyers and other professionals in its department to offer opportunities involving, amBill Casazza video w. play buttonong other things, transactional work and legal advice clinics. In addition, the department not just allows, but encourages its lawyers and staff to take the time to engage in pro bono matters and also ensures that these pro bono matters are treated the same as any other matter undertaken on behalf of the corporation. As a result, Casazza states that pro bono is “part of the expectation and part of the fabric of the Aetna law department.”

For more information about in-house pro bono, please contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon.

**denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

July 16, 2015

Pro Bono and Law Firm Mergers

checklistLaw firm mergers are booming, with new combinations being announced at a record pace. There have already been 48 law firm mergers and acquisitions in the U.S. this year, making 2015’s mid-year total the highest in the past nine years.

Mergers involve many complicated and moving pieces (compensation policies; client conflicts issues; leadership and administrative reorganization and consolidation; etc.) and can create anxiety and tension. Pro bono, however, can be an effective piece of a larger and long-term integration process. It is important that pro bono does not get lost in the shuffle and that firms think carefully about how to sync different pro bono cultures, policies, staffing and governance structures, priorities, budgets, projects, and more.

If your firm has undergone a merger, check out the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s checklist, which provides a summary of issues and ideas to get you started as your pro program moves forward. Visit our Resource Clearinghouse to download the checklist, which is free for Law Firm Project Members and available to all others for purchase. We are also available for individual consultations to help you best navigate your specific merger-related transitions. Please contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson for assistance or to register for the Resource Clearinghouse.

July 15, 2015

Upcoming Webinar: Education

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Concerned about justice issues in education? Join us Tuesday, July 28 at 12:30 p.m. ET for the webinar “Pro Bono in Practice: Education.” This one-hour program, hosted in conjunction with West LegalEdCenter, 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.

Education is a fast-changing area and this program will explore the status of available pro bono opportunities, ranging from litigation to policy work; emerging legal issues; how to get started; and opportunities for collaboration. The following panelists will address pressing issues such as the school-to-prison pipeline, special education advocacy, homelessness, and charter schools:

  • Kaitlin Banner, Advancement Project
  • Nancy Drane, Children’s Law Center
  • Steve Schulman, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld*

CLE credit is available in many states. 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

July 9, 2015

Why Wait?

2011-LFPBI-logo2-300x110More than 40 firms have already become Law Firm Pro Bono Project Members for 2015-2016. These firms have publicly demonstrated their leadership and commitment to pro bono service, and we are grateful for their support. Submit your enrollment form before September 1 to receive a 10 percent discount.

As a Member Firm, you have exclusive access to a variety of resources, such as expert consultative services, to help ensure the health and vitality of your pro bono program. In addition to receiving individualized (and confidential) assistance from Project staff, Member Firms also get priority scheduling for house call visits. During these visits, Project staff meet with pro bono committees, firm and office leaders, partners, pro bono coordinators, directors, and managers to discuss issues and problems encountered, trends in pro bono, and learn about innovative pro bono projects under way at firms and in their communities. Customized advice can assist your firm to develop or restructure its pro bono governance and staffing, engage in strategic planning, create a signature project, establish a pro bono partnership with a corporate client, enhance your use of pro bono as a training and professional development tool, and more. We are currently planning our travel schedule for 2015 and early 2016 – make sure your city is one of our destinations!

Check out our Member Benefits page for more details on these and other benefits. Please contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson if you have any questions.

We look forward to welcoming your law firm as a Member soon!

July 2, 2015

2014 Challenge Report Now Available

snapshotPBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project recently released its annual Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Report. One hundred thirty-three Challenge Signatories reported performing more than 4.2 million hours of pro bono service in 2014. A few additional highlights include:

  • Participation
    The percentage of partners participating in pro bono increased to 65 percent from 63 percent in 2013, while the percentage of associates participating in pro bono essentially held steady at 81 percent. The cumulative participation rate increased slightly, with 73 percent of attorneys participating in pro bono in 2014.
  • Pro Bono for Those of Limited Means
    After making a concerted effort over the past year to improve reporting of the hours and percentage of total pro bono time committed to persons of limited means and the organizations that serve them, 121 Signatories reported this data in 2014, up significantly from 80 firms in 2013. The total number of these hours increased from 2.0 million hours in 2013 to 2.9 million hours in 2014. Approximately 69 percent of all tracked or estimated pro bono time was devoted to those of limited means and the organizations serving them in 2014. Collectively, Signatories are meeting their Challenge commitment to devote a “majority” of their pro bono time to people of limited means.

Check out the complete Challenge Report, including analysis of the data, detailed graphs, and more!

We encourage firms to use their status as Signatories as a rallying cry and points of pride and distinction. Publicize your participation and your pledge of pro bono service inside and outside the firm, to your clients, and to the public interest groups with whom you work. Making a public commitment to the Challenge heightens awareness of pro bono at the firm, increases attorney participation, engages firm leadership, and sets clear and shared goals for success.

For firms that have not yet joined because of a concern that they cannot meet the Challenge goals, we encourage you to enroll and use this proven tool to advance pro bono at your firm. There is no downside as we do not publish disaggregated statistics, nor do we in any way identify individual firms as having met or not met their Challenge goal. Rather, we work closely with Challenge Signatories to provide individual consultative services and support to help them improve their pro bono performance. If your firm of 50 or more lawyers would like to join the Challenge, please contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson.

We’re excited to welcome two new Challenge Signatories: BuckleySandler*† and Duane Morris*†. Now is the perfect time for your firm to follow their lead and join our efforts to improve access to justice, as this year marks the 20th anniversary of the implementation of the Challenge.

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

July 2, 2015

Video: WDPB – Michael Howson, AOL Inc.

Michael Howson, assistant general counsel, AOL Inc.**, explains how pro bono work creates a sense of  balance between his day-to-day corporate responsibilities and his desire to make an immediate impact in his community.

** denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

June 25, 2015

Marketplace of Pro Bono Ideas: Part 2

The PBEye recently reportedMarketplace of Pro Bono Ideas--March 15 on some of the creative and replicable projects featured during the two Marketplace of Ideas sessions at the 2015 PBI Annual Conference. Here are a few more of the projects highlighted during these exciting sessions:

Jobseeker Legal Clinic
Heather Hodges discussed the Neighborhood Legal Services Program’s (NLSP) innovative Jobseeker Legal Clinic, which helps low-income individuals seeking employment overcome legal obstacles that may be barriers to successful job searches. Recognizing the need to “go where the clients are” and that public libraries are critical access points, NLSP formed a partnership with the District of Columbia Public Library to hold clinics and informational presentations at library branches around the city.

Clinic attendees meet one-on-one with attorneys at the library to address legal barriers to employment, such as criminal record sealing, credit reports, background checks, identity theft, homelessness, obtaining driving and professional licenses, and resolving back child support arrearages. Pro bono lawyers are also often able to help with issues related to workplace discrimination, recovering unpaid wages, tips, and overtime, and employment-related tax problems. The Jobseeker Legal Clinic is an effective model for addressing structural unemployment and related problems in our communities.

International Bar Association’s Anti-Trafficking Initiative
Rene Kathawala discussed Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe’s*† work with the International Bar Association’s Anti-Trafficking Initiative to prioritize markets for anti-trafficking training programs in 2015. The firm ultimately recommended six countries from among the 163 that signed the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking Persons, Especially Women and Children (commonly known as the Palermo Protocol) that would be ideal for anti-trafficking training programs for police officers, judges, and prosecutors.

The Orrick team did extensive research, vetting countries to assess their commitment to and compliance with the Palermo Protocol by prosecuting traffickers within the past five years and which had not been involved in significant training programs to minimize duplication of efforts, eventually narrowing the list down to, as requested, six countries – Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Hungary, Indonesia, Madagascar, and Niger. The team was comprised of 34 attorneys in 12 offices across the U.S., Asia, and Europe and is a prime example of “pro bono glue,” that is, how large-scale pro bono projects can be used to integrate the offices of a global law firm.

Juvenile Justice
Natalie Kraner described Lowenstein Sandler’s*† new pro bono initiative to reform the New Jersey juvenile justice system. The firm helped form a juvenile justice working group, bringing together prominent academics, nonprofits, and the Office of the Public Defender. The coalition has engaged in a number of advocacy and reform efforts.

Lowenstein Sandler attorneys and summer associates conducted a nationwide survey on the use of solitary confinement in juvenile facilities. Relying on this research, the coalition is seeking through executive and legislative advocacy to eliminate or reduce the use of punitive solitary confinement. The group has also engaged in impact litigation challenging transfers from juvenile custody to adult prisons. Additionally, it regularly hosts roundtable discussions with various stakeholders − including police, corrections officers, prosecutors, public defenders, parents of children in the justice system, young adults who were in the system, legislators, and judges − to discuss and initiate reforms.

Through this work, the coalition has attracted the attention of national foundations that will help sponsor a multi-year campaign with the twin goals of creating viable alternatives to incarceration and more humane treatment for juveniles in state custody.

***

Check out our full recap of the 2015 Marketplace of Ideas sessions in this month’s edition of The Pro Bono Wire. We look forward to learning more and sharing other replicable ideas and projects at the 2016 PBI Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 23-25. We invite those wishing to serve as a presenter to submit a brief proposal describing your initiative so that we can ensure adequate time and capacity for all presentations. Please send submissions to Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson. (Due to time limitations, we may not be able to accept all proposals this year.)

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

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