The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
August 25, 2016

Making Democracy Work

Voting is at the heart of our democracy, yet our voting system remains deeply flawed. A number of prominent civil rights and public interest groups are leading non-partisan efforts to ensure that every eligible voter can vote and that every proper vote is counted.

Pro bono lawyers are often at the forefront of legal efforts to cure legal flaws in the system, which threaten the accuracy, legitimacy, and fairness of the voting process. Lawyers have important roles to play at all levels of the election protection and reform processes – crafting legislation, enforcing voting laws, researching legal developments, monitoring the election process for unlawful behavior, representing eligible individual voters, and aiding local, state, and national organizations in bringing impact litigation to challenge unconstitutional election laws. The range of pro bono opportunities is broad and deep, with meaningful options for both small and large-scale projects and those that would appeal to litigators and non-litigators.

Want to get involved and make a difference this election year? PBI has three new resources to help you navigate election-related pro bono opportunities:

webinarListen to our latest webinar, Best of the 2016 PBI Annual Conference: The Challenges of Citizenship: Election-Related Pro Bono Opportunities (Pro Bono in Practice), which is now available on-demand.  This program explores how pro bono efforts play an important role at all levels of the voting rights and reform processes on Election Day and all year round. Jennifer BrownMorrison & Foerster*†, Ezra RosenbergThe Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and Chris WaltersReed Smith*† discuss emerging issues, how to get started, opportunities for collaboration, and a range of pro bono options.

podcast2Check out a special episode of our podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour, about Election Protection. PBI talks to Nancy Anderson and Arusha Gordon, The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, about the national, nonpartisan Election Protection coalition and how pro bono lawyers can advance and defend the right to vote.

bookVisit our Resource Clearinghouse to access our updated publication, Facing the Challenges of Citizenship: Election-Related Pro Bono Opportunities, which explores pro bono opportunities available during and in-between major national election cycles.

For assistance accessing the webinar, podcast, or Resource Clearinghouse, please contact Law Firm Project Assistant Elysse DeRita.

* denotes a signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®

† denotes a member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project

August 24, 2016

Meet the 2016 PBI Annual Dinner Co-Chairs

Join the 2016 Pro Bono Institute Annual Dinner Co-Chairs for one of the legal profession’s most celebrated events of the year. The 2016 PBI Annual Dinner, Celebrate Achievements in Pro Bono, will take place on Thursday, November 3, at New York’s historic Gotham Hall.

We are honored to announce this year’s Annual Dinner Co-Chairs:

Michael Fricklas
Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary
Brad Smith
and Chief Legal Officer
Laura Stein
Executive Vice President – General Counsel and
Corporate Affairs



Meet the Dinner Co-Chairs
August 23, 2016

Guest Blog: Pro Bono Spotlight on AIG

We at The PBEye are inspired every day by the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatories. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the launch of the CPBO Challenge® initiative, we are showcasing some of their projects with the hope that they inspire you, too.

TealPumpkinHundreds of children will be trick or treating more safely this Halloween thanks to AIG** colleague Shama Elliott. Elliott, an Intellectual Property (IP) Manager in the Global Legal, Compliance, Regulatory, and Government Affairs department, assisted Food Allergy Research Education (FARE) with securing its trademark registrations for the Teal Pumpkin Project design (pictured). This distinct pumpkin design logo is posted on residences and local businesses to help raise awareness of and to protect children from life-threatening food allergies. It lets parents know that the home or business is offering allergy-free, non-food treats for trick-or-treaters on Halloween.

We all know that pro bono service is a meaningful way for lawyers and non-lawyers to serve their communities. Elliott knows how meaningful such service can be.

“I have always had a passion for public service, but I never anticipatedShama Elliott that my legal expertise in IP would be something a pro bono client would need. In 2012, when I started participating in AIG Pro Bono Program events, I realized that my IP knowledge and skills were valued by our nonprofit organization and small business clients. I was able to use skills I have acquired in my role as an AIG IP Manager to help nonprofits and aspiring small business owners protect their brand – a key element to building brand awareness and value, and furthering the organization’s mission.”

You can read more about unique opportunities for IP professionals to use their expertise in our blog Cutting Edge Pro Bono: Patent Law and Low-Income Inventors.

Thank you, American International Group, Inc., for contributing to The PBEye.

** denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory


August 18, 2016

Salary “Wars”

Money_Bag_iconHere we go again.  In early June, Cravath, Swaine & Moore announced that it was increasing starting salaries for associates from $160,000 to $180,000, the first material hike in almost a decade.  (The last time law firms made significant changes to the associate compensation scale was in 2007, and before that it was 1999.) Predictably, Cravath’s move triggered similar raises with firms announcing matching compensation scales.

As the legal market continues to evolve, the consequences of the pay increases remain unsettled, including their impact on minimum billable hour requirements. Whatever actions law firms take, it is critically important that they preserve and protect their commitment to pro bono. We have lessons learned from past experiences to draw on to ensure that the financial and psychological aspects of salary escalations do not negatively impact the pro bono culture and performance that so many firms have worked diligently to develop.

Interested in learning more about what the salary hikes mean for law firm pro bono? Check out our recent edition of The Pro Bono Wire and tune in to our podcast, The Pro Bono Happy Hour, to listen to a special episode about Salary “Wars”.

As with all other aspects of law firm pro bono practice and administration, Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project is available to provide assistance to firms addressing the challenges to pro bono presented by these developments.  Please contact us, if we could be of help.

August 16, 2016

CPBO to Co-Host Clinic in a Box® Program – Nonprofit Employment Policies at the 2016 ACC Annual Meeting

ACC-AM-16On Monday, October 17, CPBO will join the San Francisco Bay ACC Chapter and DLA Piper*† to co-host a Clinic in a Box® program. CPBO will use its new Clinic in a Box® Program – Select Topic model, which has a similar format and structure to the traditional model but focuses on a specific topic rather than a broad legal audit of attending client organizations. The clinic will focus on wage and hour policy (including the upcoming December 2016 Department of Labor Regulatory Changes) and anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy (with a particular focus on LGBT issues in the workplace).

The clinic will begin with a one and a half hour training session led by attorneys from DLA Piper. Volunteers will then meet in teams to assist the clients in drafting or revising their policies so that they may be implemented immediately. The clinic will run from 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and provides a great opportunity to aid organizations that may otherwise be unable to afford such assistance. For more information, see Clinic in a Box® Program – Select Topic Volunteer FAQs.

Registration is required to volunteer. If you are attending the 2016 ACC Annual Meeting and would like to attend the clinic, please indicate your interest using the meeting registration portal. If you are interested in volunteering but are not attending the meeting, please contact CPBO Project Assistant Virginia Lyon for registration details.

To find out more about the Clinic in a Box® program, other CPBO events at the 2016 ACC Annual Meeting, or how to schedule a time to meet with CPBO while at the Annual Meeting, please contact CPBO. We look forward to seeing you in San Francisco!

denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® signatory
† denotes a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project


August 15, 2016

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday

Podcast Box LFPNeed some listening material for your end of Summer vacation? Tune in to the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour, and learn about exciting and meaningful developments in the world of law firm pro bono and access to justice.

Don’t miss our recent interview with Ben Weinberg of Dentons US*†. Ben talks to us about his favorite moments as a lawyer, the firm’s entrepreneurial approach to developing its probono docket, his pro bono role models, and more.

Subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour in iTunes. Have you rated us on iTunes yet? Would you consider doing it now? The podcast is also available on YouTube. Links to all of our episodes can be found here. Join the conversation today!

Listen along and let us know what you think. Send your comments, thoughts, feedback, questions, and suggestions to Be warned: we might just read them on the air.

Want to learn more about the world of in-house pro bono? The PBI Podcast Network is expanding with a new feed. Stay tuned for the premier of our new program, which will feature Chief Legal Officers discussing the importance of pro bono and equal access to justice.

* denotes a signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®
† denotes a member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project

August 12, 2016

Cutting Edge Pro Bono: Patent Law and Low-Income Inventors

Over the past several years, the U.S. Patent andapproved Trademark Office (USPTO) Patent Pro Bono Program, working with partners across the U.S., has offered unique pro bono opportunities that engage lawyers to help low-income inventors apply for and secure patents. The first client-side patent pro bono program to assist low-income inventors in prosecuting patents was initially piloted in Minnesota with attorneys from Smiths Medical and Patterson Thuente Pedersen, among others. Since then, the Patent Pro Bono Program has become a nationwide effort, available in 47 states.

For low-income inventors, the impact of pro bono assistance is significant. A patent can be extremely valuable for inventors, allowing them to commercialize their invention and to have ownership of their ideas. However, hiring an attorney may cost thousands of dollars, which is not feasible for many low-income inventors. Given the high cost of hiring counsel, many inventors either choose to proceed pro se or not apply at all, leading to a significant justice gap. Pro se applicants struggle to navigate this highly complex area of law without legal guidance. For example, in Minnesota, 39.9 percent of applications prepared with the assistance of counsel are approved without a request for continued examination or appeal, compared to just 12.3 percent of pro se applications.

The Patent Pro Bono Program also serves an unmet interest among volunteers, providing patent attorneys an opportunity to use their unique skills and expertise to assist low-income individuals. As a result, it has attracted volunteers from numerous organizations. In Minnesota, the Patent Pro Bono Program operates as the LegalCORPS’ Inventor Assistance Program and counts among its supporters companies such as 3M Company**, Boston Scientific Corporation**, General Mills, Inc.**, Mayo Clinic**, and Medtronic, Inc.**, and law firms such as Barnes & Thorneburg*†, Dorsey & Whitney*†, Faegre Baker Daniels*†, Fish & Richardson†, Lindquist & Vennum*†, and Norton Rose Fulbright*†. Attorneys from these departments and firms, and many others, have donated many hours to represent inventors before the USPTO.

This collaborative engagement has proven highly successful in other jurisdictions as well. For example, in California, Fenwick & West*† partnered with Intel Corporation** to found the Northern California Pro Bono Patent Program, which has engaged lawyers at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company**; Microsoft Corporation**; Nixon Peabody*†; Morrison & Foerster *†; Milbank, Tweed, Hadly, and McCloy *†; Perkins Coie *†; Foley & Lardner*†; and Hogan Lovells US*†, among others.

The PBEye congratulates all those involved in developing, piloting, expanding, and staffing the Patent Pro Bono Program and looks forward to reporting about more innovative projects like this in the future. For information on how to get involved in your state, please visit the USPTO’s Patent Pro Bono Program website.

Hat tip to PBI intern CJ Rydberg for his help with this post.

* denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®signatory

† denotes a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project

** denotes a CPBO Challenge® signatory

August 11, 2016

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late To Save!

pbi 20Dozens of firms have already become Law Firm Pro Bono Project members for 2016-2017.  These firms have publically demonstrated their leadership and commitment to pro bono service and access to justice, and we are grateful for their support. Submit your firm’s enrollment form before September 1 to receive a 10% discount.

As a member firm, you will have exclusive access to resources to help ensure the health and vitality of your pro bono program, such as expert consultative services; discounted registration for every individual attending the PBI Annual Conference; free access to live webinars and on-demand programming with our network of experts; and access to the Project’s members-only section of our Resource Clearinghouse, which is a one stop destination for publications, best practices, model policies, and other materials related to law firm pro bono.

Check out our member benefits page for more details on these and other valuable benefits.  Please contact Law Firm Project Assistant Elysse DeRita, if you have any questions.

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

August 8, 2016

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday

logoLooking for an inspiring pro bono opportunity? Tune in to the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour, for a special episode about supporting survivors of domestic violence.

One in four women and one in seven men experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime. Don’t miss our interview with Spencer Cantrell, Legal Access Coordinator of JCADA (Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse). JCADA’s mission is to support, educate, and prevent future generations from suffering abuse by raising awareness. Its services are provided without regard to ability, background, faith, gender, and sexual orientation. Spencer discusses resources, shares expert tips on how you can give a “voice to the voiceless,” and explores the range of available pro bono opportunity (ligation/non-litigation; time-limited/full scope; etc.). Check out the episode and learn how you can be of help to survivors of domestic abuse.

Podcast Box LFPSubscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour in iTunes. Have you rated us on iTunes yet? Would you consider doing it now? The podcast is also available on YouTube. Links to all of our episodes can be found here. Join the conversation today!

Listen along and let us know what you think. Send your comments, thoughts, feedback, questions, and suggestions to Be warned: we might just read them on the air.

August 4, 2016

Guest Blog: Legal Pro Bono Project Helping Those in Need

We at The PBEye are inspired every day by the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatories. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the launch of the CPBO Challenge® initiative, we are showcasing some of their projects and letting them inspire you too.

PNC Bank** Legal’s Pro Bono Project is justPNC two years old, but it’s already made a big difference in the lives of those who otherwise could not afford to pay for legal services.

With 30 engagements in the second half of 2014 and more than 70 in 2015, the Project has surpassed its goals. Those numbers also show the program is achieving its goal of ingraining pro bono work in the culture of the company’s Legal employees.

“Not only are you helping people who need the skills we can provide, but you’re expanding your own knowledge and skill set,” said Mark Gittelman, managing chief counsel – Bankruptcy and Business Restructuring, who manages the program. “You’re meeting different people and doing different things.”

Advocating for those in need.  PNC’s lawyers are helping aspiring small-business owners with the legal aspects of forming their business, and creating wills and living wills for senior citizens. They’re involved with initiatives like The Name Change Project, which helps transgender people navigate the legal aspects of changing their names to match their identities, and the Homeless Advocacy Project, which helps homeless people with issues like Social Security benefits or having long-past, minor criminal records expunged so they can get jobs and break the cycle of poverty.

They’re also providing legal services to youths in the Philadelphia foster care system, making sure that, while other lawyers are looking out for their parents’ interests, someone is advocating for them. “That’s very rewarding,” Gittelman said. “You can have a child in a very bad situation and help put them in a much better one.”

The program recently added a Pittsburgh location to the work PNC’s lawyers in Philadelphiahave been doing with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. Based out of Temple University Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia, the project uses law students and pro bono lawyers to screen applications from prisoners for substantial claims of innocence, then takes on select cases with the goal of exonerating and releasing those who have been wrongly convicted.

‘The most amazing experience.’ To further strengthen the program in the PNC Legal culture, the team hosted PNC Pro Bono Week in September 2015, lining up a number of opportunities for prospective volunteers to get involved. Social service providers came into offices where the company has lawyers — in Chicago, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. — to conduct training, or PNC’s lawyers visited law offices to participate in legal service clinics available to the public.

This year, the Pro Bono Project plans to expand its work with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, conduct legal service clinics in more cities across PNC’s footprint, coordinate efforts between SeniorLAW Center locations in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to protect the rights of older Pennsylvanians, and “offering as many different opportunities in as many areas as possible,” Gittelman said.


Thank you, PNC Bank, for contributing to The PBEye.

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

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