The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
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!

September 25, 2014

Your Partners and Pro Bono

ThumbnailMany law firms struggle with how to involve more partners in pro bono work. The PBEye believes that it is critical to attain meaningful participation by partners. Doing so broadens a firm’s pro bono capacity and helps ensure the long-term vitality of pro bono by sending a clear message that pro bono is an important and lasting firm value.

The Law Firm Pro Bono Project recently collected information from Member Firms and Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Signatories about how they incentivize their partners to do pro bono work. They revealed a variety of ways in which firms do this, such as offering billable or collection credit for pro bono, including pro bono in a partner’s self-assessment or annual review, and using awards or other forms of public recognition. We frequently receive requests from firms regarding partners and pro bono and the updated information received will enable us to more accurately respond to such inquiries.

We’ve created an infographic that summarizes the information obtained from more than 100 respondents at 81 different law firms. Visit our Resource Clearinghouse to download the infographic, 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 Law Firm Project Assistant Eva Richardson to register.) For additional hints and best practices for successfully overcoming obstacles to partner involvement, check out our handout about improving partner participation.

September 18, 2014

Clemency Project 2014: Update

Since The PBEye first reported on Clemency Project 2014, which seeks to provide pro bono assistance to federal inmates who would have likely received lower prison terms under today’s sentencing laws, the initiative has made substantial progress.

More than 1,000 attorneys, including solo or small firm practitioners and lawyers from large law firms, have already volunteered. In July, the Project conducted a training program for prospective volunteers, which is now available on-demand and includes an overview of the federal sentencing guidelines, applicable caselaw, and the eligibility criteria. Pro bono attorneys have been helping the Project screen requests for legal assistance submitted by more than 20,000 federal inmates seeking representation to determine if they meet the U.S. Department of Justice’s clemency criteria. They will then help qualifying inmates write and submit petitions for commutation.

If you are interested in learning more about Clemency Project 2014 and offering your pro bono assistance, click here.

September 16, 2014

You’re Invited: CPBO’s Booth at the ACC Annual Meeting

ACC AM 14

Are you headed to New Orleans for this year’s ACC Annual Meeting held October 28-31? If so, The PBEye invites you to swing by the CPBO booth in the exhibit hall to meet with CPBO representatives and check out new resources.  CPBO has a variety of resources available to chapter leaders and in-house counsel from legal departments of all sizes who are interested in providing pro bono services, whether you are looking to start a program or have one that is already well-established.

If you would like to meet with CPBO for a longer discussion of options and initiatives for yourself, your legal department, or your chapter, contact CPBO to set up a time that is convenient for you.

To find out more about CPBO’s presence at this year’s ACC Annual Meeting read CPBO at the ACC Annual Meeting in The Big Easy.  If you cannot attend the ACC Annual Meeting and want to learn more about  in-house pro bono, contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon.

September 11, 2014

Integrating Pro Bono and Charitable Giving

2011-LFPBI-logo2-300x110At a time when law firms are being particularly careful about spending, there are synergies to be leveraged by integrating the firm’s pro bono program with its business giving and charitable foundation. There are different models of law firm charitable foundations and they vary in the way they operate, are structured, and how they intersect with the pro bono program. Check out the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s recently updated compilation of Member Firms and Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Signatories that have charitable giving foundations, where you can read about the foundations’ missions, structures, and the organizations to which they donate.

A firm foundation can play a critical role in the firm’s pro bono efforts by funding expenses associated with pro bono matters, including revolving litigation expenses, such as expert fees, travel, deposition transcripts, etc. Donations and financial support for public interest groups and legal services providers are, likewise, critical. Indeed, in the Challenge Statement of Principles and Commentary, “[w]e strongly encourage law firms to continue and expand their financial support of legal services organizations. These organizations need both service and monetary contributions from major law firms.” Firm contributions to nonprofit legal organizations, whose expertise and assistance make law firm pro bono possible, are essential to maintaining an effective pipeline of pro bono matters and a support network for legal services.

Visit our Resource Clearinghouse to download the publication. If you are with a Member Firm and are new to the Resource Clearinghouse, please contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson to register.

Hat tip to PBI intern Lily Liu for her research assistance.

September 9, 2014

A Mighty Few Seek to Protect Native American Art

Indian Art

Photo Copyright: AFSC

While only a small group, volunteers from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Northwest Justice Project, and Foster Pepper are aiming to have a big impact on a serious problem for Native American and Alaska Native artisans: counterfeiters.

Many Native American and Alaska native artists, whose income relies on creating and selling traditional arts and crafts, are unable to compete with counterfeiters who saturate the market with mass produced knock-offs. Beginning in 2010, the lean team of four attorneys and eight non-lawyers (including the AFSC volunteer committee) has attacked this issue using multiple legal and non-legal avenues by educating Native artisans about their rights, developing methods to identify authentic Native American Art, and using intellectual property and nonprofit law.

A number of years ago, in response to the prevalence of counterfeit products, AFSC formed the Indian Arts and Crafts Volunteer Committee. The Committee seeks to help Native artists threatened by products deceptively marketed as Native-made by informing them about their intellectual property rights. Specifically, Native artists are protected by the Federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA). The legislation, enacted in 1990 and amended in 2010, aims to prevent counterfeit goods from being falsely advertised and sold as authentic native artwork. Unfortunately, there is not an effective enforceable mechanism against violators, so in practice the law only protects consumers.

In response to the inadequacy of the law, AFSC partnered with lawyers from Foster Pepper and Northwest Justice Project with the aim to create a mechanism for stronger enforcement and an authentication process. The team is forming a nonprofit that will administer licensing and enforcement of a certification mark that will tell consumers which goods are authentically Native-made. Ultimately, this new and innovative approach aims to protect Native artisans from counterfeit producers and provide them with economic stability.

This unique partnership, consisting of only a few attorneys, plays a big role in strengthening the native communities and preserving traditional arts and crafts. The partnership reflects the wide-scope of available pro bono projects and showcases how a few committee volunteers and attorneys can create a lasting impact. The PBEye congratulates this mighty effort!

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