The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
October 30, 2014

With the Clinic in a Box® Program, Verizon Has Great Reception

Verizon Communications, Inc.** plVZNJ 2ugged into pro bono again this month, hosting its sixth Clinic in a Box® program on October 16 at its headquarters in Basking Ridge, N.J., in collaboration with CPBO and DLA Piper *†. During the clinic, 13 Verizon volunteers assisted six local nonprofits that provide a wide range of services essential to the community, including youth advocacy, support for victims of domestic violence, and services for displaced children. By providing this opportunity for legal assistance to these organizations, Verizon has helped in making sure these organizations can continue to provide invaluable services to the community.

Many of the clients expressed how thrilled they were to receive help from such engaged volunteers and were happy to leave with “to-do lists” from the lawyers they met with that day. The volunteers were also happy to help, with many finding the experience not just personally rewarding but also a great opportunity to engage with other Verizon lawyers with whom they may not work on a day-to-day basis.

The success of VZNJ 1this clinic comes hot off the heels of the Clinic in a Box® program that Verizon hosted last month, which served nonprofit organizations from the D.C. metro area. It was at that clinic that John Frantz, Verizon vice president and assistant general counsel as well as chair of Verizon’s Pro Bono Committee, remarked how much Verizon’s pro bono efforts have grown since the company hosted its first Clinic in a Box® program just four years ago.

The Clinic in a Box® program is a time-limited pro bono opportunity that allows in-house lawyers and other legal department staff to work together to provide meaningful assistance to organizations that serve the local community. Those interested in reading more about past CPBO Clinic in a Box® programs should click here. To learn more about hosting a Clinic in a Box® program, contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon.

 

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

October 30, 2014

Don’t Forget to Vote – and Do Pro Bono

voteWith the 2014 midterm election just days away, The PBEye has been thinking about election-related pro bono opportunities. Pro bono lawyers are at the forefront of non-partisan legal efforts during and in-between major election cycles to ensure that all eligible voters have equal access to the ballot box and to cure legal flaws in the election system which threaten the accuracy and legitimacy of the voting process.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act with its decision in Shelby County v. Holder, a number of states have moved forward with various voting restrictions, which have created confusion among the electorate and introduced new hurdles to accessing the ballot box that disproportionately affect low-income, minority, college-age, and elderly voters. As we previously reported, Law Firm Pro Bono Project Member Firms and Challenge® Signatories have devoted significant pro bono time and resources to protecting the right to vote in the months leading up to this critical election.

In addition to protecting voting rights, there are many other roles for pro bono lawyers to play at all levels of the election protection and reform processes on Election Day and year-round. Opportunities for involvement include crafting legislation, researching legal developments, monitoring the election process for unlawful behavior, interfacing between public interest groups and government officials on legal issues, representing eligible individual voters, and aiding local, state, and national organizations in bringing impact litigation to challenge unconstitutional election laws.

To learn more about how pro bono lawyers can play an important role on Election Day and all year-round, listen to the on-demand version of our webinar “Pro Bono in Practice: Elections.” CLE credit is available for this program in many jurisdictions. Registration is free for Law Firm Project Member Firms. Please contact Law Firm Project Assistant Eva Richardson for registration information or for assistance with becoming a Member.

For more ideas, check out the Law Firm Project’s popular publication Facing the Challenges of Citizenship: Election-Related Pro Bono Opportunities. Visit our Resource Clearinghouse to download the publication, which is free for Law Firm Project Members and available to all others for purchase.

Hat tip to PBI intern Mike Minahan for his help with this post.

October 29, 2014

PBI’s Got Seoul, Part 2

Last week, PBI was pleased to welcome officials from the Metropolitan Government of Seoul, South Korea. The visit comes nearly two years after PBI’s participation in South Korea’s first pro bono symposium. The officials, primarily from the Seoul government’s Legal Affairs Division, sat down with Law Firm Pro Bono Project Director Tammy Taylor and Global Pro Bono Project Coordinator Sri Katragadda to learn more about the history of pro bono in the U.S. The discussion was wide-ranging and touched on the role that PBI has played in the development of pro bono, as well as some of the challenges facing pro bono around the globe. The Seoul officials noted that South Korean lawyers are required to satisfy a mandatory minimum of pro bono hours every year or face a penalty. In addition, South Korean law provides lawyers as a civil right, but only if one is sued. This led to a discussion of unsatisfied legal needs for those who cannot afford a lawyer but do not meet the requirements to be assigned a lawyer, such as plaintiffs in civil matters.

This meeting is the latest in a series of conversations that PBI has had with lawyers and representatives from South Korea interested in pro bono, dating back to 2006. We are excited to stay engaged with the development of pro bono in South Korea, particularly in light of the number of global law firms that have opened offices in Seoul.

Stay tuned!

October 24, 2014

Illinois Continues its Focus on In-House Pro Bono

On October 3, CPBO re-teamed with ACC Chicago, local in-house pro bono leaders, and DLA Piper*†, to support the development of photo 2in-house pro bono in Illinois. The organizations hosted a panel discussion on the ethical issues involved with in-house pro bono and provided an opportunity for in-house counsel to network with representatives from public interest organizations that offer and support pro bono engagements in Illinois. This was the latest in a growing list of in-house pro bono focused activities in the state, which includes the Illinois Supreme Court amending its practice rules to remove unnecessary restrictions on registered in-house counsel providing pro bono legal services. The program expanded upon an event co-hosts presented last year to deepen the already robust in-house pro bono culture in Illinois.

This year, engaged in the conversation were Darryl Bradford, general counsel, Exelon Corporation**; Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride; Eve Runyon, director, CPBO; Chuck Smith, assistant general counsel, Allstate Insurance Company**; and Jeff Torosian, partner, DLA Piper*†. Topics included pro bono metrics, the attorney-client relationship, multijurisdictional practice rules, and liability insurance. In addition, panelists shared some of the lessons they learned with regard to in-house pro bono. Bradford reminded all in-house counsel that they are “more powerful than [they] think” and that they can effect change for pro bono not only within their own departments but the larger legal community as well. Boophoto 1kending the panel was Alix Darrow, president of ACC Chicago, who welcomed attendees to the event and Kelly Tautges, director of pro bono and court advocacy at The Chicago Bar Foundation, and Jody Adler, director of The Law Project of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, who concluded the panel by reiterating the importance of pro bono legal services and highlighting some of the numerous opportunities for in-house counsel in Illinois. Many of these opportunities will be covered in the forthcoming new edition of the Pro Bono Opportunities Guide.

 

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

October 24, 2014

John Oliver Gets It

Sunday night’s episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO featured a compelling and hilarious segment about the large backlog of Afghan translators awaiting Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs). As Oliver noted, translators in Afghanistan and Iraq who have risked their lives by serving as liaisons between the U.S. military and local populations have become targets of anti-American violence. Unfortunately, efforts to escape danger in their home countries are largely unsuccessful due to the bureaucratic difficulties faced when applying for a visa through the SIV program. As Oliver showed with his exasperated breakdown of the 14 steps required for getting a visa, the application process can take years to successfully complete.

“Things have improved slightly recently, thanks in part to pressure from groups like The List Project and IRAP. But it is still not moving fast enough,” Oliver rightly complained. He argued that the SIV program “should not be like a lottery, where the odds are terrible. It should be more like a little league award ceremony, where everyone’s a winner.” We agree.

As The PBEye has previously reported, pro bono lawyers have a critical role to play in providing legal services to these Afghan and Iraqi allies, whose lives are at risk because of the assistance they provided in country to the U.S. Organizations such as The List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies and the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), which Oliver recognizes, are working with pro bono attorneys in order to help those allies navigate the visa application process.

PBI will be honoring IRAP at the 2014 PBI Annual Dinner, taking place on November 6 at Gotham Hall in New York. The CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award, which recognizes innovative team approaches to pro bono work, will be presented to American International Group, Inc.** in partnership with IRAP for their provision of pro bono legal assistance to refugees.

Check out the video and we hope to see you in New York!

** denotes a Signatory to the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge®

October 16, 2014

Closing Time

checklistDoes your firm have a backlog of open pro bono matters of undetermined status? Are you interested in streamlining or enhancing your firm’s existing procedures for closing pro bono matters? Check out the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s new toolkit, Closing Time: Practice Tips for Administratively Closing Pro Bono Matters, designed to help firms institutionalize and improve their practices and procedures for routinely closing completed pro bono cases.

File management and accurate recordkeeping are important aspects of a firm’s risk management strategy. While most firms understand the importance of following firm protocol to open new pro bono matters, closing pro bono matters can often be overlooked. Proper matter closure will help prevent clerical and other errors, enhance supervision and oversight, and ensure that the status of every pro bono matter is clear to both the firm and its clients. This new toolkit includes, among other things, practices tips; a sample client closure letter; and model pro bono closure forms, which could be used to foster the integration of lawyer professional development and pro bono.

Visit our Resource Clearinghouse to download the publication, which is free for Law Firm Project Members and available to all others for purchase. If you are new to the Resource Clearinghouse, please contact Eva Richardson to register.

We are grateful for the assistance provided by PBI intern Jordyn Coad.

October 9, 2014

Upcoming Webinar: Immigration Update

webinars_colorful_clip_artThis summer, we all watched as the flood of unaccompanied minors migrating to the U.S., many of whom are fleeing violence, persecution, abuse, or trafficking, became a humanitarian crisis. Most of these children are unrepresented and face deportation, especially with the recent order by the Executive Office of Immigration Review to accelerate hearings for Central American children. Going through immigration proceedings without legal help is daunting, even under the best of circumstances. The crisis shined a renewed spotlight on our broken immigration system and how the dysfunction negatively impacts both children and adults.

Join us on October 20 at 12:00 p.m. EDT for “Pro Bono in Practice: Immigration Update,” a one-hour program hosted in conjunction with WestLegalEdcenter that will explore pro bono opportunities and legal developments related to immigration. The following panelists will provide an overview of current legal issues and a timely update about initiatives to support and reform our immigration system:

Gabe Fuentes, Jenner & Block*†

Karen Grisez, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson*†

Shanti Martin Brown, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)

Laura Tuell Parcher, Jones Day

This program will address how pro bono lawyers can get involved and provide examples of pro bono engagements that range from individual representations to fact-gathering to policy advocacy to impact litigation and system re-design.

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

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

October 3, 2014

Verizon Connects to Pro Bono with a Clinic in a Box® Program

OVerizonn September 16, Verizon Communications, Inc.** co-hosted its fifth Clinic in a Box® program. Along with co-hosts CPBO, DLA Piper *†, and the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program, Verizon held the clinic in its downtown D.C. offices. During the clinic, nearly 40 lawyers and other professional staff from the company’s metro area offices assisted 11 local nonprofits.

John Frantz, Verizon vice president and assistant general counsel and chair of Verizon’s Pro Bono Committee, welcomed the volunteers to the clinic and noted that it had been four years since Verizon hosted its first Clinic in a Box® program, then in Arlington, Va., which was also the first pro bono event the department sponsored. Verizon’s pro bono program has grown dramatically in the time since and co-hosting periodic Clinic in a Box® programs is now just one of many of Verizon’s pro bono efforts.

After welcome remarks from each of the co-hosts, the clinic began with an hour and a half training session led by expert attorneys from DLA Piper, covering areas of law relevant to nonprofit organizations. The Verizon volunteers then met in teams to conduct a legal audit of each organization. During the meetings, volunteers reviewed a legal audit checklist, developed by CPBO and tailored by DLA Piper to D.C., Maryland, and Virginia law. The volunteers identified issues of concern and provided guidance to the nonprofit clients as needed.

Verizon 2The clients remarked not only on the breadth of issues covered at the clinic but how the assistance offered by the Clinic in a Box® program is “crucial in the nonprofit arena” and provides vital resources to the greater community. The nonprofits served during the clinic supply a wide range of services, including assistance to victims of domestic violence, employment support and career education for low-income women, as well as educational programs to tackle underage drinking and drunk driving.

The PBEye is pleased to report on the impact of the clinic on the community’s nonprofits, as well as the ongoing pro bono participation of Verizon’s legal department. 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. Those interested in reading more about past CPBO Clinic in a Box® programs should click here. To learn more about hosting a Clinic in a Box® program, contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon.

** denotes Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

October 3, 2014

Video: WDPB – Michael Silverman, Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund

Michael Silverman, executive director of Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, explains why partnerships with law firms and corporate legal departments are extremely valuable to his organization’s pro bono efforts.

October 2, 2014

Grateful for Your Support

UntitledMany thanks to the law firms that have joined the Law Firm Pro Bono Project for 2014-2015. These firms have publicly demonstrated their leadership and commitment to pro bono service.

It’s not too late to join! Submit your enrollment form today and you’ll have exclusive access to a variety of high-quality resources to help you strengthen and grow your firm’s pro bono program. The Law Firm Project’s mission is to support and enhance the pro bono culture and performance of major law firms in the U.S. and around the world. We make available to our Members publications, research, programming, confidential consultations, an online Resource Clearinghouse, and more to ensure that their pro bono efforts remain vibrant, responsive, and effective. Be sure to take full advantage and make the most of your Membership. Please contact Law Firm Project Assistant Eva Richardson if you have any questions.

We appreciate our Member Firms’ dedication to pro bono and to our work, which is 100 percent supported by Membership dues and law firm contributions. As the numbers of underserved persons locally and globally continue to climb, we must continue working together to do more pro bono, to do better pro bono, and to use our collective skills and resources to promote access to justice for all. We look forward to welcoming your law firm as a Member soon!

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