The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
October 8, 2015

Don’t Eat Lunch Alone

Podcast Box LFPLooking for an interesting podcast to supplement your weekly line-up? No need to wait for the next season of Serial! Tune into the Pro Bono Happy Hour, the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s new podcast featuring lively conversations about law firm pro bono news, and best practices. 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.

Subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour in iTunes and check out our first two episodes featuring Lauren Schmidt of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck*† and Lisa Borden of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz*†. The podcast is also available on YouTube.

Check out the Pro Bono Happy Hour to hear about the great pro bono work firms are doing and learn about exciting and meaningful developments in the world of law firm pro bono. We hope to educate and inspire while making your commute, lunch break, workout, or down time a bit more interesting.

We hope you’ll listen along, and let us know what you think. You can weigh in with feedback, comments, and suggestions at

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

October 6, 2015

Eisai Kicks Off its Pro Bono Program

On September 18, Eisai Inc. launched its pro bono program with a Clinic in a Box® Program – Legal Audit and a session devoted to access to justice. Hosted at its headquarters in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, the launch coincided with a legal department-wide meeting and was attended by Executive Vice President and General Counsel Allen Waxman, attorneys, paralegals, patent specialists, administrators, and others from around the country. Engaging its legal department in pro bono legal services is a natural fit for Eisai, which prides itself on “a tradition of genuine concern for people.”

Eisai client meetingThe Clinic in a Box® Program – Legal Audit was co-hosted by CPBO and Day Pitney* and attended by local nonprofits invited by United Way of Northern New Jersey.  After a one-and-a-half hour training session covering governance, employment, intellectual property, tax, and real estate, the volunteers met in teams with their clients. The attending nonprofit clients provide a variety of critical services to the local community, including helping homeless families who are in need of shelter, food, and support. In response to a survey after the clinic, one client wrote: “Wonderful lawyers and kind, caring, humanitarians! Thanks to the management of Eisai for the support of this outreach to nonprofits. Excellent feedback and sincere interest in our mission. Thank you very much!”

The Eisai pro bono program is led by five dedicated individuals, who worked with the co-hosts for several months to plan the clinic and who were joined by several colleagues for a session on access to justice, hosted by CPBO. The session started with a poverty simulation, followed by presentations on the chasm in access to justice and the role of pro bono. To hear first-hand the impact pro bono can have on a client’s life,
participants watched the speech of Aimee Sherrod, an Air Force veteran who secured military benefits with pro Eisai access to justice photobono assistance. The session ended with a discussion of the options and opportunities available to in-house counsel and their department colleagues to utilize their skills and fulfill their professional responsibility to assist those unable to afford legal counsel.

The PBEye congratulates Eisai on this important step and looks forward to reporting on its future pro bono efforts! Those interested in reading more about in-house pro bono opportunities, including past CPBO Clinic in a Box® programs, should click here. To learn more about hosting a Clinic in a Box® program or about in-house pro bono, please contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon.

Eisai Group Photo

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

October 1, 2015

Doctors Prescribing Pro Bono for Patients in Need

At first it may sound counter-intuitive, but people often need legal assistance in order to be healthy. In many cases, low-income individuals with medical challenges also face legal difficulties, which can negatively impact their health and delay their recovery. That’s where medical-legal partnerships step in. Medical-legal partnerships integrate legal services into the delivery of healthcare in order to address health-harming legal needs that disproportionately affect people living in poverty.

The PBEye has covered medical-legal partnerships in the past and we were excited to see them featured in a video segment on the PBS Newshour. Check out the video and see how a partnership between Nebraska Medicine and Legal Aid of Nebraska has benefitted patients and their families, improving outcomes while controlling costs.

The healthcare landscape is transforming rapidly, bringing a deeper integration of medical services, social services, and legal services. So far, medical-legal partnerships have been established in 292 healthcare institutions in 36 states. It’s an expanding area of legal services (two of the 2015 Legal Services Corporation pro bono innovation grants were awarded to medical-legal partnerships) with ample, meaningful opportunities for pro bono lawyers to get involved.

Leave a comment and tell us about your pro bono medical-legal partnership!

September 25, 2015

Verizon Connects with Pro Bono in Dallas

This year, VDallas Skylineerizon Communications, Inc.** is celebrating the five-year anniversary of its pro bono program, and what better way to celebrate pro bono than with more pro bono? The department has planned to host Clinic in a Box® programs in three of its locations across the country this fall.

On September 17, CPBO packed its bags and headed to Dallas to co-host the first Clinic in a Box® program with Verizon, Texas C-Bar, and DLA Piper*†. The clinic engaged 16 volunteers from Verizon’s legal department and several others across the surrounding area in providing a legal audit to local nonprofits.

After a one-and-a-half hour training session led by expert attorneys from DLA Piper, covering key areas of law relevant to nonprofit organizations, the volunteers went to work by meeting in teams to conduct a legal audit of each organization through the review of a 10-step checklist. After the clinic, many of the volunteers reported that they felt great about the experience and appreciated that they were able to help the organizations that attended.

The nonprofit clients that attended the clinic provide critical services to the local community, such as helping women achieve economic independence andDallas Clinic picture providing shelters for victims of domestic violence. By using their unique skillset as in-house counsel to provide assistance to nonprofit organizations, the volunteers helped to ensure that these organizations continue to operate in good legal health, thereby helping to sustain their vital work.

Those interested in reading more about in-house pro bono opportunities, including past CPBO Clinic in a Box® programs, should click 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 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

September 24, 2015

Grateful to Our Members

UntitledMany thanks to the law firms that have joined the Law Firm Pro Bono Project for 2015-2016, and welcome to the following new Member Firms: BuckleySandler*†, Crowe & Dunlevy†, Elliott Greenleaf†, and Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman†. 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 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 an online Resource Clearinghouse, programming, confidential consultations, and more to ensure that their pro bono efforts remain vibrant, responsive, and effective. Be sure to take full advantage of your Membership benefits. Please contact Law Firm Pro Bono 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 number of underserved persons locally and globally continues 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!

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

September 17, 2015

Serving Seniors

Grandparents-Day-Background-1024x700Last Sunday was National Grandparents’ Day (who knew?), which got us thinking about seniors. The elderly population is expected to grow considerably over the coming years and accompanying this demographic shift will be an increased demand for pro bono legal services for seniors, too many of whom live below the poverty line.

There are a number of legal issues and considerations that are specific to seniors: reliance on a fixed income; vulnerability to fraud, manipulation, and deception; age-related health issues; limited mobility, etc. Meaningful pro bono opportunities to assist eligible seniors cover a wide range of needs. Below are examples of the legal issues that seniors frequently face:

Protection against fraud and financial abuse
Pro bono attorneys can help elderly clients overcome fraud and financial abuse. Dishonest scammers often go after seniors because they are viewed as easy targets. Perpetrators, posing as trustworthy, are often fraudulent real estate or financial advisors, or even, sadly, the victims’ own family members.

Conservatorships and adult guardianships
If seniors are no longer able to make legal, financial, and medical decisions, conservatorships or adult guardianships may be necessary. Pro bono attorneys have a critical role to play in assisting low-income elderly clients and their families navigate these complex procedures.

Advance planning
Pro bono attorneys can assist seniors with various facets of critical end-of-life planning, including estate planning and the drafting of wills, advance healthcare directives, medical proxies, and other essential documents. It is essential that the low-income seniors have access to legal guidance as they make important decisions about their future.

Pro bono opportunities, both short and long-term, to serve low-income seniors can suit the interests and talents of many pro bono attorneys. Through engagements and partnerships with legal services organizations, pro bono attorneys can have a significant and meaningful impact and ensure that low-income seniors live their remaining years with dignity. The PBEye hopes that you will be inspired to get involved to serve this vulnerable and deserving population.

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

September 16, 2015

You’re Invited: “The CLO’s View of In-House Pro Bono” at the ACC Annual Meeting

2015 ACC Annual Meeting

The 2015 ACC Annual Meeting is only a month away! As The PBEye has reported previously, there will be a number of in-house pro bono-related events, including the session “The Chief Legal Officer’s View of In-House Pro Bono” (Tuesday, October 20, 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm). The following panel of leading in-house counsel will give an overview of in-house pro bono, discuss the role of CLOs and other leaders in supporting such efforts, and address the growth and importance of in-house pro bono within legal departments, companies, and the communities where they work:

  • Jeffrey Hyman, General Counsel, Pebble Technology Corp
  • Mark Roellig, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company**
  • Thomas Sabatino, Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel, Hertz Global Holdings, Inc.**

Representing legal departments from around the country and of a variety of sizes and industries, the panelists have decades of experience with in-house pro bono and will be sure to provide tremendous insight.

In addition to attending the aforementioned session, don’t forget to register for the Clinic in a Box® Program – Nonprofit Policies (Monday, October 19, 7:00 am – 10:30 am) and the pro bono breakfast (Tuesday, October 20, 7:45 am – 9:00 am) with CPBO Project Assistant Josh Lefebvre.

To find out more about in-house pro bono, stop by CPBO’s Booth #117 in the Exhibit Hall, or contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon. We look forward to seeing you in Boston!

**denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

September 10, 2015

Back to School . . . Back to Pro Bono

schoolIt’s officially back to school season! As you say goodbye to the slower pace of summer life and gear up for fall, make sure pro bono is on your agenda.

As you stock up on school supplies, visit the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s Resource Clearinghouse, which contains publications, best practices, surveys, model policies, and other materials on law firm pro bono. We have created an instructional video to help you quickly and easily navigate the Resource Clearinghouse. The brief tutorial will show you how to register, access the Members-only page, download and purchase documents, and search for specific key words or publications. All materials, which are updated frequently, are available free to Law Firm Pro Bono Project Member Firms by instant download. Non-Members may also access the Resource Clearinghouse and view and purchase select documents.

For additional and timely pro bono learning and inspiration, check out “Pro Bono in Practice: Education,” which is part of the “Best of the 2015 PBI Annual Conference” webinar series.  A panel of experts discuss pressing education-related issues such as the school-to-prison pipeline, special education advocacy, and charter schools. Too many children returning to school this fall will encounter barriers to success. Learn how you can get involved and make a difference.

The webinar is available on-demand and access 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 and in-house participants should contact CPBO Project Assistant Josh Lefebvre. CLE credit is available in many jurisdictions.


September 8, 2015

Global CSR + Pro Bono

IBM blogOne of the ways to increase pro bono activities within
in-house legal departments is to closely align them with the company’s ethos and its global corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts. One such example of the complementary nature of Global CSR and pro bono programs is the work done by International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), which have garnered numerous awards and recognition for the company.

IBM’s legal department’s pro bono activities routinely match with the company’s CSR initiatives through such programs as IBM’s employee Corporate Service Corps and On Demand Community. In 2011, IBM celebrated its 100-year anniversary by encouraging employees to volunteer their time to charity projects at an unprecedented level. In addition to volunteer hours, the company’s Centennial Celebration of Service provided nearly $12 million in grants to approximately 4,000 nonprofit organizations.

The support of social responsibility efforts included IBM’s legal department, whose members volunteered their skills for these programs—in addition to their existing pro bono projects. After the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, the legal department approached ShelterBox, a nonprofit humanitarian relief organization that responds in the immediate aftermath of disasters. The team of volunteers sought to help address the disaster-relief needs in Japan and provide broader legal assistance to ShelterBox’s operations. Specifically, attorneys reviewed the organization’s intellectual property, strengthened their corporate governance, and revised internal policies.

IBM’s work with ShelterBox has grown exponentially. IBM approached the law firm Baker & McKenzie*† to help deliver additional pro bono resources. Together, lawyers from both organizations have provided information and guidance related to international regulations impacting employees, volunteers, and beneficiaries of response efforts, such as providing information and guidance related to regulations impacting ShelterBox’s international staff and volunteers who were assisting families displaced by conflict in Syria.

This partnership capitalizes on the differing talents of each organization by matching attorneys to a variety of organizational needs. In addition to the legal services, both organizations inspired others to support the nonprofit financially, allowing the organization to more effectively and efficiently deliver more aid to the world’s most vulnerable people.

Separately, in 2012, IBM attorneys also devoted many hours on weekends to provide pro bono disaster relief assistance after Superstorm Sandy hit New York City. They partnered with the New York City Bar Justice Center and others to start and staff pro bono legal clinics and helping to galvanize and coordinate other volunteers.

In 2014, IBM broadened its partnership with the City Bar Justice Center and participated in two important projects: the Veterans Assistance Project and the Immigrant Women and Children Project. Through this partnership, dozens of IBM attorneys provide legal assistance to veterans seeking disability benefits, and to crime victims, including domestic violence victims, needing immigration relief.

To find out more about aligning corporate social responsibility and pro bono, access our on-demand webinar on the topic.

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

September 3, 2015

In Honor of Labor Day

“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Labor Day is just around the corner and as we say goodbye to summer, let’s pause to reflect on the meaning of this holiday and celebrate the vast contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. As we’ve previously reported, pro bono lawyers have a critical role to play in protecting workers’ rights and there is still more to be done to secure fair wages, benefits, schedules, and hours, safe conditions, and equality for all in the workplace.

Inspiring and recent examples of labor and employment-related pro bono work performed by Law Firm Pro Bono Project Member Firms and Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Signatories on behalf of workers include:


Debevoise & Plimpton* represented a class of black and Hispanic sheet metal workers in a long-standing pro bono case against their union arising from a history of racial and ethnic discrimination. They reached a back pay settlement on behalf of nearly 400 class members who were harmed by disparities in work opportunities between the union’s white and non-white members from 1984 to 1991. The settlement also includes reforms designed to eliminate racial disparities in work opportunities.

Hogan Lovells*† secured a victory in the U.S. Supreme Court, representing a federal air marshal who was fired by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for disclosing information about cost-saving measures that could have potentially endangered public safety (DHS planned to remove air marshals from long-distance flights despite credible hijack threats). The case challenged his dismissal as illegal retaliation, and represents an important victory for whistleblowers everywhere. It reminders us that the Whistleblower Protection Act is a critical safeguard against government abuses.

• A $20 million settlement was reached to resolve numerous labor trafficking lawsuits against Signal International, a marine services company that defrauded and exploited workers from India. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of the workers in 2008, but a federal judge refused to let the case go forward as a class action. Fortunately, in an amazing collaborative effort, several large law firms agreed to represent individual workers on a pro bono basis. The firms involved include Covington & Burling*†, Crowell & Moring*, DLA Piper*†, Fredrikson & Byron*†, Kaye Scholer*†, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton*†, Latham & Watkins*†, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips*†, McDermott Will & Emery*†, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meager & Flom*†, and Sutherland Asbill & Brennan*†.

In addition to signaling the unofficial end of summer, Labor Day marks our annual tribute to the contributions and achievements of workers. Incredible progress has been made over the years on behalf of workers, but there is still much to be accomplished – securing a living wage for all, closing the gender pay gap, the list goes on. Let’s be grateful this holiday weekend for the progress we have made, but let’s not be satisfied when there is more to be done.

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

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