The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
June 23, 2016

The State of Law Firm Pro Bono

ParticipationPBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project recently released its annual Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Report, which examines the pro bono activities of firms that are Signatories to the Challenge. Law firm pro bono in 2015 can be characterized by one word: optimism. One hundred twenty-nine Signatories to the Challenge collectively reported increases in total pro bono hours, pro bono hours for those of limited means, attorney participation rates, and charitable giving to legal services organizations.

Among the many highlights from this year’s Report, the percentage of attorneys participating in pro bono increased to 74.6 percent in 2015 from to 73.0 percent in 2014, marking the second consecutive year of growth. When the Challenge was implemented in 1995, one fundamental goal was to encourage more than half of a firm’s attorneys to participate in pro bono, which at the time was ambitious. This year’s data shows that firms are greatly surpassing that original standard. It’s time to set new goals and strive for even higher participation rates. As always, we are grateful to our Signatories for their dedication and leading the way in pro bono service.

Check out the complete Challenge Report, including analysis of the data, new information regarding firm size and pro bono, detailed graphs, and more. And stay tuned to The PBEye for additional highlights from this year’s Challenge Report. Also, check out the Law Firm Project’s discussion of highlights from the Report on its podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour.

If your firm of 50 or more lawyers would like to join the Challenge, please contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson.

June 21, 2016

Pro Bono Leaders Shine at Transatlantic Legal Awards

Legal Week and The American Lawyer recently hosted theGlobe 2016 Transatlantic Legal Awards, celebrating achievement by both firms and in-house legal departments in global legal affairs. In particular, The PBEye was thrilled to hear that among the awardees were many leaders with regard to pro bono, including Microsoft Corporation**, its President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith, and DLA Piper*.

DLA Piper was recognized as Pro Bono Programme of the Year in honor of its signature pro bono project, aimed at upholding the rights of and providing legal assistance to the roughly 13.9 million immigrants across the globe displaced by war and conflict. With participation from 18 DLA Piper offices worldwide, the project has provided legal assistance to more than 175 vulnerable individuals and 10 nongovernmental agencies. In total, 180 DLA Piper attorneys have volunteered more than 7,000 pro bono hours to the project so far and their efforts continue.

Microsoft Corporation was named the Transatlantic In-House Team of the Year and Smith was named the Transatlantic In-House Leader of the Year. The reasons for their selection are surely many, including the legal department’s tremendous pro bono program and Smith’s leadership to assist some of the most vulnerable individuals among us: unaccompanied immigrant children. Like DLA Piper’s honored project, Microsoft’s pro bono efforts focus on providing legal assistance to the immigrant community. In addition to many initiatives Microsoft’s pro bono program has supported over a decade, the department led by Smith formed Volunteer Advocates for Immigrant Justice (VAIJ) in 2003 and co-found Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) in 2008. Over the years, KIND has engaged nearly 6,000 volunteer attorneys to provide legal support to more than 5,500 unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children as they face deportation proceedings and led successful lobbying campaigns in support of crucial changes in U.S. immigration policy. Without their efforts, thousands would go without the legal support they desperately need.

Congratulations to DLA Piper, Microsoft, Smith, and all awardees of the Transatlantic Legal Awards for their tremendous achievements. We especially commend their ongoing commitments to pro bono work both at home and abroad. For more information about in-house pro bono, please contact CPBO.

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

Hat tip to PBI Intern Jake Thorne for his contribution to this blog.

June 20, 2016

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday

Podcast Box LFPNeed some listening material for your upcoming 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. Each week we interview insightful and entertaining expert guests from Law Firm Pro Bono Project Member Firms and Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Signatories, and offer a smart, fresh, creative take on pro bono.

You don’t want to miss our recent interview with Gary Connelley of Crowley Fleck†. He talks about being a public interest lawyer and his transition, 20 years ago, to a law firm to build a pro bono program; the access to justice challenges and opportunities in Western states that are large in geography but small in population; his view that every client in the firm is the same whether they are paying or pro bono; why his days are never dull; and more.

Subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour in iTunes. Podcast subscribers receive weekly new episode alerts, which you can then download and listen to at your convenience. 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.  

† denotes a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project

June 16, 2016

Inside the Making of a Pro Bono Video

Podcast Box LFPHave you tuned in to the Pro Bono Happy Hour? It’s the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast that highlights exciting and meaningful developments in the world of law firm pro bono. Each week we interview insightful and entertaining expert guests from Law Firm Pro Bono Project Member Firms and Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Signatories, and offer a smart, fresh, creative take on pro bono.

We recently spoke with Aileen Bleach of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan*† about the firm’s inspirational new pro bono video. She shares her “behind-the-scenes” perspective and discusses why the firm decided to make a video, how it was produced, lessons learned from the process, and more.


Subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour in iTunes. Thanks for listening. 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.

As we’ve previously reported, a video is an innovative and engaging way for firms to promote their pro bono programs and demonstrate their commitment to access to justice. Has your firm created a pro bono video recently? Leave a comment and share your experience, and be sure to link to the video!

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

June 14, 2016

In-House Pro Bono in the News: Continuing the Conversation

In May, Corporate Pro Bono was featuredCPBO in the news-01 on Legal Executive Institute, a Thomson Reuters website that offers insight into the profession of law and the legal marketplace through blog commentary and legal news analysis. In the piece Benchmarking In-House Pro Bono: CPBO Challenge Hits 10-Year Milestone, Eve Runyon, President and CEO of PBI, recounts the progress of the CPBO Challenge® initiative,

“During the past 10 years the initiative has become the industry standard, with nearly 150 signatories from organizations that provide pro bono service in more than 44 countries. CPBO Challenge® signatories range in terms of size, industry and location, but they all share a common commitment — to improve access to justice.”

Since July of 2015, Legal Executive Institute has published four additional blogs by Runyon outlining various facets of in-house pro bono and its impact:

The Best of the Profession: Pro Bono at the PBI Annual Conference outlines the subject matter addressed at the PBI Annual Conference held March 23-25. Hundreds gathered in Washington, D.C. to learn, share, challenge, and discuss such pressing topics as the global mass mPro Bono Needigration crisis, justice deserts, and representing children and adolescents.

In-House Pro Bono in Practice highlights various in-house pro bono legal services, and how CPBO can act as a guide to those looking to get involved. The article features the pro bono efforts of Best Buy Co., Inc.** and The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation** and references CPBO’s in-house pro bono in practice profiles for more examples of how to get involved.

Overcoming Challenges to In-House Pro Bono: Time Limitations addresses one of the biggest barriers legal departments face when setting up a formal pro bono program – time. In response to this quandary, Runyon offers the following advice:

  • spread the responsibility,
  • establish partnerships with legal services organizations, law firms, and other legal departments,
  • practice limited assistance representation, andThe Rise of in-house
  • utilize the expertise and time of others.

The Rise of In-House Pro Bono explains how legal pro bono came to the world of in-house practice.  Runyon points out that while the progress made over the past few decades is inspiring, “the need for pro bono services remains great.”

The PBEye thanks Thomson Reuters for continuing the conversation on in-house pro bono, and encourages you to do the same. Have questions about how your legal department can join the fight for equal access to justice, or how you can expand the impact of a pre-existing program?  Don’t hesitate to contact CPBO with any and all of your questions. We’re here to help.

** denotes a CPBO Challenge® signatory

June 9, 2016

How Do You Measure A Year?

rulerWith the Tony Awards on Sunday night fast approaching, our initial answers are borrowed liberally from the lyrics of Rent: Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes? In daylights? In sunsets? In midnights? In cups of coffee? In inches? In miles? In laughter? In strife? In love?

Yes, to all of the above.

In part, we measure a law firm pro bono program’s year in hours, attorney participation rates, hours per attorney, pro bono time as a percentage of billable time, pro bono for those of limited means, and charitable giving to legal services organizations. How was 2015? Stay tuned. Next week, the Law Firm Pro Bono Project will release its annual Report on the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®. With 129 of the nation’s largest law firms reporting their pro bono statistics for the past year, we are able to provide an accurate picture of the law firm pro bono landscape. The information provides the reliability and rigor that are essential to tracking performance; identifying trends, obstacles, and opportunities; and enabling us to enhance pro bono and better serve our pro bono clients. How will your firm compare?

June 3, 2016

The PBEye Salutes Solicitor General Donald Verrilli

After five years as Solicitor General of the United States, Donald Verrilli will be stepping down from verrillithe position. Verrilli is well known not only as a gifted orator but a staunch advocate for pro bono. PBI was honored to have him join us at the 2015 PBI Annual Conference to discuss his passion for access to justice and his hopes for the future of pro bono.

When asked about whether he advises others to share his personal goal of spending at least 10 percent of his hours on pro bono matters he said:

The way it looks to me now . . . is we are living in a nation in which the gap between the wealthy and everyone else just keeps growing wider and wider, and income inequality and wealth inequality are becoming more and more serious problems. It’s true in the economy generally, it’s true in the country generally, and it’s also true in the legal profession. I just think that’s a reality that all of us in this profession should face up to, that there are these very real market pressures, I get that, but it’s not just that the poor can’t afford basic legal services anymore, it’s that the middle class can’t afford basic legal services anymore.

The PBEye would like to take this opportunity to thank Donald Verrilli for his service and his unwavering commitment to equal access to justice for all.

June 2, 2016

Don’t Miss Out on the Benefits of Membership

checklistIt’s time to enroll or renew as a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project for 2016-2017. Complete and return the enrollment form today to demonstrate your law firm’s support for access to justice and pro bono service. Submit your form before September 1 to receive a 10 percent discount.

As a Member Firm, you’ll have access to resources to help you strengthen and grow your firm’s pro bono program, such as:

Please contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson, if you have any questions or would like assistance with your firm’s enrollment.

Special thanks to our first Member Firm of 2016-2017: Sidley Austin*†. We look forward to welcoming additional Member Firms in the coming weeks.

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

† denotes a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project

May 31, 2016

Best Legal Departments of 2016

AwardCorporate Counsel recently released its list of the Best Legal Departments of 2016, and it came as no surprise to The PBEye that the legal departments at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company (HPE)** and Viacom Inc.** were two of the four featured for their members’ abilities to multitask.

HPE’s legal department earned its place on Corporate Counsel’s list for its handling of Hewlett-Packard Co.’s split – the largest corporate split in history – into HPE and Hewlett Packard Inc. “while still succeeding in other areas such as litigation, talent development and pro bono.” Success with regard to HPE’s pro bono program was the reason that PBI recently awarded Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary John F. Schultz and the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) of HPE the 2016 Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award.  Composed of nearly 900 professionals and attorneys, the HPE OGC engages more than 50 percent of its global team in pro bono legal services in more than 20 countries across the globe, all while serving the legal needs of a large and complex company.

Corporate Counsel commended another CPBO Challenge® signatory, Viacom, for its legal department’s ability to navigate tricky deals and collaborate seamlessly with other departments in the company. Viacom’s legal department employs its ability to collaborate when providing pro bono services as well.  For instance, to increase public awareness of gender-based violence in Kenya the legal department of Viacom International Media Networks, worked with the producers of its television program Shuga: Love, Sex, Money to incorporate important legal information into the storyline and leverage the program to educate viewers.

Join CPBO in celebrating the pro bono achievements of HPE, Viacom, and other CPBO Challenge® signatories at the 2016 PBI Annual Dinner, which will be held November 3 in New York. To become a signatory and affirm your department’s commitments to equal access to justice contact CPBO.


** denotes a CPBO Challenge® signatory

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