The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
August 28, 2014

Thanks to Our Summer Crew!

Interns (2)Summer is coming to an end and The PBEye would like to thank our Sheehan Scholars and interns for their hard work over the past few months.

We welcomed our fifth class of Sheehan Scholars this summer: Jordyn Coad (American University Washington College of Law) and Lori Panosyan (The George Washington University Law School). Bob Sheehan – head of the pro bono program at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom*†, former Executive Partner (1994-2009) of the firm, and Co-Chair of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project Advisory Committee – and his family provided the financial support to launch this program in 2010, which has been named in his honor in recognition of his extraordinary pro bono leadership. We are grateful to the Sheehan family for their generosity and to Jordyn and Lori for spending their summer with us. They were joined by two terrific undergraduate interns: Samantha Fry (Yale University) and Sam Mancina (University of Michigan).

Our interns and Sheehan Scholars worked on a variety of projects – large and small – during their time at PBI and you’ve seen the fruits of their labors. We are grateful for their diligence and dedication, and we especially enjoyed their energy and fresh perspectives. We are also appreciative of the firms, organizations, and individuals, such as the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), Foley & Lardner*†, Fredrikson & Byron*†, Venable*†, and Pam Wandzel, who supported our summer program by inviting our interns and staff to events and donating time to provide additional professional development opportunities.

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

August 26, 2014

Aging Out, Pro Bono Steps In

helping hands

In 2012, more than 23,000 children turned 18 and “aged out” of the foster care system in the U.S., according to federal statistics. Without parents or guardians for support, these children often face the usual challenges of growing up without parental advice or guidance. And unlike teenagers and young adults who gradually learn to deal with real-world challenges, these former foster care children are thrown into adulthood headfirst. The day they turn 18, they exit the system and must care for themselves – signing an apartment lease, applying for jobs, learning to cook, and graduating high school all on their own.

Unsurprisingly, these responsibilities and challenges overwhelm many former foster care children, many of whom have also experienced traumatic and unstable childhoods. Without a support system, they are far more likely than their peers to face issues like unemployment, illness, homelessness, and incarceration.

Fortunately, there are a number of organizations across the country dedicated to easing the transition for these young adults and facilitating pro bono legal aid. These programs make it easier for individual attorneys to get involved, either in a specific case or through their clinics. For example:

  • In Seattle, the Center for Children & Youth Justice’s “Lawyers Fostering Independence” program sponsors volunteer clinics on legal rights and helps connect children who have aged out of the foster care system and are now 17-23 years old with pro bono legal aid.
  • In Los Angeles, the Alliance for Children’s Rights’ “NextStep Program” provides transitioning young adults with skills training and educates them on their legal rights.
  • Florida’s Children First aids former foster care children through their program “Justice for Foster Youth at LAST (Lawyers Assisting Successful) Transition),” which brings together transitioning youth with pro bono attorneys to guide and advise them up to age 25.

The PBEye has recognized the efforts of several law firms to help these young adults, but the need is great and the opportunities to assist are available to all attorneys.

Children aging out of the foster care system face some daunting obstacles as they enter the adult world, both legal and personal. Pro bono legal aid can make a meaningful and tangible impact on the lives of these at-risk teens and help them navigate these critical years.

Hat tip to PBI intern Samantha Fry for her assistance with this blog.

August 21, 2014

Is Your Firm Camera-Ready? (Part Two)

Camera2Last week, The PBEye reported on ways that firms can use videos both internally and externally to showcase their commitment to pro bono and enhance their pro bono marketing efforts. These videos come in many varieties; some videos feature attorneys and staff discussing why they do pro bono and the broad range of the firm’s pro bono offerings, others go deep and focus on particular pro bono cases undertaken by the firm, and some spotlight pro bono clients, enabling them to tell their own stories and share their perspectives.

We recently reviewed more than 80 pro bono videos, which had been produced by some 40 different Law Firm Pro Bono Project Member Firms and Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Signatories. The selections below exemplify the wide range of themes and styles of firm pro bono videos:

Cooley*† conveys the firm’s passion for pro bono work as attorneys and staff discuss the importance of pro bono. In this fast-paced video, each person describes what pro bono means to him or her in just three words.

Hogan Lovells*† demonstrates its global reach, specifically pro bono work in its London office, in a video that provides in-depth descriptions of a variety of litigation and transactional pro bono matters, ranging from the representation of trafficking victims to the provision of legal assistance to nonprofit organizations.

Latham & Watkins*† produced an engaging video in which firm attorneys and staff explain why they do pro bono. Their enthusiasm and dedication to pro bono jump off the screen as they share inspiring stories and reveal what motivates them to get involved.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe’s*† video highlights both the firm’s transactional pro bono work and pro bono litigation. This video, as well as others that focus on specific pro bono victories, effectively features pro bono clients in addition to firm attorneys and staff.

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman* has created a series of brief, in-depth videos that each focus on one attorney and his or her experience working on a particular pro bono matter. These videos also convey the scope and breadth of the firm’s pro bono practice, which includes impact litigation, the provision of critical legal services to the poor, counseling nonprofit organizations, and more.

Ropes & Gray*† provides a sampling of different pro bono matters undertaken by the firm, such as efforts to secure lawful immigration status for students so they can qualify for federal loans and representation of a death row inmate. The video also touches on the benefits of doing pro bono work, including the enhanced opportunities for attorneys to develop their legal skills.

Please contact Law Firm Project Assistant Eva Richardson if you would like a comprehensive list of the pro bono videos we reviewed. Also, don’t forget to check out PBI’s YouTube channel to see some of our videos.

If your firm has recently created a pro bono video, leave a comment and share a link!

Hat tip to PBI intern Sam Mancina for his help with this post.

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

August 20, 2014

In Western-MA, MassMutual Leads

Headquartered in Springfield, Mass., and having a large satellite office in nearby MASS outlineEnfield, Conn., with a combined legal department composed of 56 attorneys and 80 non-lawyers, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company** (MassMutual) has the distinction of employing more lawyers than any other company or law firm in the greater Springfield area. As a result, when the legal department started to formalize its pro bono efforts in 2007, it did not have the option of working with a larger legal department or large firm with an existing pro bono program. Instead, MassMutual developed its own distinctive pro bono effort. Over the past seven years, MassMutual has become the local pro bono leader, working with each local pro bono community organization, engaging local law firms in its pro bono efforts, and hosting trainings for volunteers both from MassMutual and other organizations.

MassMutual’s first pro bono partnership, formed in 2007, included local law firm Heisler, Feldman, McCormick and Garrow (HFMG). HFMG, which already had a strong commitment to pro bono, helped MassMutual get its initiative off the ground through the Western Division Housing Court Lawyer for the Day Program. Collaborating with HFMG, The Women’s Bar Foundation, the Hampden County Bar Association, and Community Legal Aid, numerous MassMutual attorneys, including General Counsel Mark Roellig, volunteer at the weekly clinic on eviction day. In addition to staffing the clinic, MassMutual sponsors ongoing trainings for MassMutual and other volunteers which encourage a minimum of two volunteers to staff the eviction clinic every week. In the last two years, the Housing Court Lawyer for a Day Program served more than 169 clients. Overall, the efforts have engaged more volunteers, reduced the burden on public interest organizations involved with the Housing Court Lawyer for the Day Program, and increased the number of clients receiving assistance.

MassMutual has continued its leadership in expanding pro bono legal services through its collaborations with other organizations. For instance, MassMutual partners with the Hampden County Bar Association (HCBA) to sponsor the HCBA Legal Clinic. The HCBA Legal Clinic centrally coordinates pro bono efforts throughout the county, including the existing Housing Court Lawyer for the Day Program and Springfield District Court Lawyer for the Day Program. The District Court Lawyer for the Day program is unique in that it allows lawyers to assist consumers out of court. Attorneys problem-solve, guide consumers with court forms, and provide legal advice on civil issues. The types of cases covered in this program are small claims, supplementary process, unemployment appeals, summary process/evictions, and other general civil matters for pro se litigants. Since the program’s creation in May 2012, 575 consumers have been given legal advice and assistance with forms.=
More recently, MassMutual joined with the HCBA Legal Clinic and Community Legal Aid to explore expanding its pro bono efforts to the Probate and Family Court by training volunteers for a program whose volunteers review guardianship petitions and reports for the Court.

In an effort to inculcate aspiring lawyers with a sense of community service, MassMutual also collaborates with Western New England University School of Law to provide pro bono opportunities for law students.

While most of MassMutual’s pro bono work is centered in Massachusetts, MassMutual volunteers also engage in transactional pro bono opportunities through the Pro Bono Partnership (PBP) and assist nonprofits serving the disadvantaged or enhancing the quality of life in low income neighborhoods in the New York Tri-State area.

HCBA President-elect Christina Turgeon said:

MassMutual has historically played an active role in the Springfield community and over the last six years has helped shape the face of the pro bono services available. Its strategy to partner with the County Bar Association and other local providers of pro bono legal services has allowed for an expansion of existing projects and for the development of new and exciting programs, improving the quality of life for many and helping to secure access to justice regardless of economic status.

The PBEye applauds MassMutual’s in-house pro bono leadership.

 

** denotes Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

August 20, 2014

Meet the 2014 PBI Annual Dinner Co-Chairs

We at The PBEye are excited about November as we march closer to the 2014 PBI Annual Dinner which will be held on November 6 in New York. Themed “Celebrating the Promise of Pro Bono,” this year’s Annual Dinner will will recognize the evolution and success of pro bono and its power to improve access to justice for those most in need. Once again, PBI is honored to have three distinguished Dinner Co-Chairs.

Friedman-WebEric J. Friedman
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom

Eric J. Friedman has served as Skadden’s Executive Partner since 2009. Under his leadership, for three consecutive years Skadden has been the only firm to be named as one of the nation’s two most innovative law firms in Financial Times’ “U.S. Innovative Lawyers” report (2010-2012). Read more…

Sheehan-WebRobert C. Sheehan
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom

Robert C. Sheehan, who oversees the firm’s pro bono program, was Executive Partner of Skadden, Arps from April 1994 to April 2009. Mr. Sheehan began his career with Skadden in 1969, became a partner in 1978 and of counsel in 2010. Read more…

Milch-WebRandal S. Milch
Verizon Communications Inc.

Randal S. Milch is executive vice president, Public Policy, and general counsel of Verizon. He leads the company’s public policy, legal, regulatory, government affairs and security groups. Read more…

Visit the Annual Dinner Co-Chairs page to learn more. Also, visit the 2014 Annual Dinner page to get more information including  how to be come a sponsor of the Dinner.

We sincerely thank our Co-Chairs for showing their support of PBI’s work and its mission to increase access to justice for everyone.

August 20, 2014

Professional Development for Pro Bono Leaders

Membership in the Law Firm Pro Bono Project offers unmatched pro bono professional development, training, and networking opportunities. At a time when changes are being implemented at law firms on what seems like a daily basis, it is more important than ever to stay on top of current industry trends and best practices.

Members receive exclusive benefits that make it easier for their firms to administer successful law firm pro bono programs. These benefits include, among other things, 1/3 off registration fees to the PBI Annual Conference and free access to webinars and on-demand programming with PBI’s network of experts. We also offer confidential consultations, guidance, audits, and assessments to address all aspects of your firm’s pro bono program.

We appreciate your support and dedication to pro bono and to our work, which is 100 percent supported by Membership dues and law firm contributions.

More than 80 firms have already become Members, so what are you waiting for? Return your 2014-2015 enrollment form before September 1 to receive a 10 percent discount. If your Membership renewal is already in the mail, thank you!

August 14, 2014

Is Your Firm Camera-Ready? (Part One)

videoFor law firms looking to spice up their pro bono marketing, videos can be an effective option. As we’ve previously reported, a video is an innovative and engaging way to promote your firm’s pro bono program and demonstrate your firm’s dedication to pro bono.

Our friends at Faegre Baker Daniels*† have given us helpful guidance on how videos can strengthen both internal and external pro bono marketing efforts. Internally, firms can use a video to capture attention during presentations at firm annual meetings, as the nature of pro bono practice lends itself to video presentation more than other topics typically addressed at these and other meetings. Additionally, firms can use a pro bono video during new attorney and summer associate orientation and post it to the firm’s intranet to increase visibility. Videos also have the power to educate, inspire, and motivate attorneys and staff to get involved. In summary, pro bono videos can be used within the firm to:

• Demonstrate pro bono as a core value of the firm
• Inform lawyers and staff about the firm’s pro bono practice and policies
• Recognize outstanding volunteers in a public context and foster professional pride
• Generate interest in pro bono practice and the firm’s pro bono work
• Recruit new volunteers
• Foster pride about the law firm’s commitment to the community

Firms can also use videos about their pro bono programs to advance external marketing goals by displaying them prominently on their website and other public sites, like YouTube. Videos allow firms to communicate their commitment to pro bono in a concise, modern, and effective manner, while also publicly displaying the character and values of their firm. Firms can use pro bono videos externally to:

• Recruit new lawyers and summer associates
• Differentiate the firm from its competitors
• Highlight to the community the value placed by the firm on pro bono practice
• Inform existing and potential commercial clients about the firm’s pro bono practice and service to the community
• Inform legal services providers about the firm, and areas of the firm’s pro bono practice and expertise

Stay tuned for Is Your Firm Camera-Ready? (Part Two) next week, where we’ll highlight some compelling new pro bono videos that demonstrate the variety and range of what firms are producing. In the meantime, don’t forget to check out PBI’s YouTube channel to see some of our videos.

Has your firm created a pro bono video recently? Leave a comment and share your experience, and be sure to link to the video!

Hat tip to PBI intern Sam Mancina for his help with this post.

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

August 12, 2014

Learn to Co-host a Clinic in a Box® Program with CPBO

ACC AM 14

If you’re headed to this year’s ACC Annual Meeting in the Big Easy, make sure to check out CPBO’s training session on Wednesday, October 29 to learn how to co-host a Clinic in a Box® program!

Developed by CPBO, the Clinic in a Box® program is an off-the-shelf legal audit clinic hosted by legal departments and ACC chapters, in partnership with CPBO, law firms, and public interest organizations.  During the clinic, in-house counsel work in teams to provide legal advice to local nonprofit organizations or small businesses.  Volunteers also earn CLE credit while they obtain training prior to the client meetings.  To date, CPBO has co-hosted 50 Clinic in a Box® programs across the country with ACC chapters and legal departments.  

By attending the training program at the ACC Annual Meeting, attendees will learn the ins and outs of planning and hosting a Clinic in a Box® program, which will qualify them to obtain a reduced-price license. CPBO offers licenses to legal departments and ACC chapters.

Please note that attendees will be learning how to host a clinic, not participating in one, and there is a separate fee of $500 to participate in this program.

Register for the session by October 1 to receive more information, including payment instructions.  We look forward to seeing you there!

 

August 7, 2014

Welcome to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®

SigsThe Law Firm Pro Bono Project is pleased to announce two new additions to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®: Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz*† recently signed on to the Challenge and Stinson Leonard Street*†, the firm that resulted from the merger earlier this year of Leonard, Street and Deinard and Stinson Morrison Hecker, renewed their commitment to the Challenge. We are excited to welcome both of these firms, whose attorneys and staff have shown a strong dedication to pro bono work by providing a wide range of legal services to those in need.

Since 1993, the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge, an initiative of PBI’s Law Firm Project, has served as a guidepost to assist major law firms in increasing their commitment to pro bono legal services. The Challenge principles are designed to offer institutional support and maximize the efficacy of law firm pro bono programs. The Challenge definition of pro bono has become an industry standard, utilized not only by major law firms but by the legal media in reporting the pro bono contributions of large law firms.

We encourage firms to use their status as Signatories as a rallying cry and a point 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. We also invite firms to renew their Challenge commitments at any time: whether you are undergoing a merger or other structural changes; whether you would like to increase your Challenge goal from 3 to 5 percent of billable hours; or whether you’d like to gain the momentum of publicly re-affirming your institutional commitment to pro bono.

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.

By joining the Challenge, your firm can institutionalize its firm-wide commitment to providing pro bono legal services to low-income and disadvantaged individuals and the organizations that serve them. To learn how your firm can become a leader in law firm pro bono, please contact us.

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

August 5, 2014

Pro Bono Blows into the Windy City!

Pro bono is alive and well in Chicago!On July 25, CPBO, the Chicago ACC Chapter, DLA Piper*, and The Law Project co-hosted a Clinic in a Box® program for in-house volunteers from the Chicago ACC Chapter, marking CPBO’s 50th Clinic in a Box® program to date. The Chicago ACC Chapter alone has co-hosted six of these programs, making it an annual event for the chapter.

Held at DLA Piper, the Clinic attracted lawyers and other professional staff from legal departments throughout the Chicago area. The program began with an hour and a half training session led by expert attorneys from DLA Piper, covering areas of law relevant to nonprofit organizations. Following the training, volunteers from the Chicago ACC Chapter met in teams of three to four with the nonprofit clients to conduct a legal audit of each organization. During the meetings, volunteers reviewed a legal audit checklist, developed by CPBO and tailored to Illinois state law by DLA Piper. The volunteers identified issues of concern and provided guidance to the nonprofit clients as needed.

The clients not only remarked on the breadth of issues covered at the Clinic but also how they were able to ask “very specific questions and [receive] excellent responses.” These services better assist the organizations as they provide vital resources to the greater community. The nonprofits served during the Clinic provide a wide range of services, including assistance to victims of domestic violence, community art programs for children and local artists, as well as maternal and child health services.  The PBEye is pleased that this year’s Chicago ACC Chapter Clinic in a Box® program was a great success for pro bono and the community’s nonprofits. We look forward to what next year’s event will bring!

The Clinic in a Box® program is a time-limited pro bono opportunity that allows in-house lawyers and other department staff to work together to provide meaningful assistance to organizations that serve the local community. If your legal department is interested in co-hosting a Clinic in a Box® program, contact Eve Runyon, director of CPBO, for more information.

 

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

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