The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
November 16, 2017

CPBO’s Clinic in a Box® Program Tackles Social Media Policies for Nonprofits

In October, CPBO co-hosted a Clinic in a Box® Program in partnership with the Association of Corporate Counsel National Capital Region, D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center, and Womble Carlyle*† at the 2017 Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Annual Meeting.

Every Clinic in a Box® Program – Select Topic introduces and trains volunteers on an issue of importance to nonprofits before pairing them with nonprofits to provide legal advice. This clinic took a deep dive into social media policies and online marketing compliance, subjects that concern many nonprofits and employers in general.

For example, in a recent and especially high-profile case, Juli Briskman was fired by her employer (a government contractor) for giving President Trump’s motorcade the finger and then posting a photo of the act to her social media accounts. Although it was on her own time and her social media accounts did not reference her employer, her photo was grounds for dismissal for what they deemed “obscene” content. This case demonstrates it’s important for organizations to have a social media policy that protects their brand and also to have an understanding of employee rights in relation to social media use.

Womble Carlyle attorneys John E. Pueschel, Orla M. O’Hannaidh, and Rebecca C. Fleishman led the training for 31 volunteers that covered other high-profile examples of employees being fired for social media posts deemed damaging by the company but were ultimately protected activities according to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In one case, an employee was fired for tweeting about wages and circulating a petition about working conditions. NLRB held that the company’s social media policy was overly broad and that employees cannot be restricted from discussing working conditions with the public. Ultimately, the employer was ordered to pay lost wages and benefits.

Pueschel advised that restrictions on discussing “confidential” information about an employer – without specific examples – were overly broad and that social media policies should be treated the same as other work rules. Additionally, O’Hannaidh and Fleishman shared best practices for developing a social media policy, contents of an effective policy, restrictions on online marketing, and disclosures around marketing.

D.C. Bar President Patrick McGlone attended the clinic as did attorneys from many CPBO Challenge® signatories including: American International Group, Inc.**, AT&T Inc.**, Crown Canyon Capital, LLC**, Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac)**, Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae)**, and Willis Towers Watson**. Once trained, the volunteers broke into teams and met with representatives from nine D.C. nonprofits to draft or revise their social media policy (applicable to employees and volunteers) and advise them on complying with laws governing marketing and advertising online.

The nonprofit organizations that attended the clinic offer a wide range of services in the District, including: delivering archaeology enrichment programs to students and providing bilingual and multicultural services to marginalized members of the LGBT community.

To read more about past CPBO Clinic in a Box® programs, click here. To learn more about hosting a Clinic in a Box® program or about in-house pro bono, please contact CPBO at cpbo@probonoinst.org.

Photos by Scott Dressel-Martin.

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

** denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

November 16, 2017

Want to Be Happy At Work?

We spend a lot of time thinking, talking, and writing about why lawyers, law firms, and legal departments should do pro bono work.

In case you need yet another reason, check out Being Happy at Work Matters, a Harvard Business Review article that combats the myth that you don’t have to be happy at work to succeed. “Happy people are better workers.”  “Those who are engaged with their jobs and colleagues work harder – and smarter.”

Research shows that to be happy and engaged at work, people need: (1) a meaningful vision of the future; (2) a sense of purpose; and (3) great relationships.

Pro bono offers a way to satisfy these three requirements and is foundational to cultivating legal professionals who will be emotionally and intellectually committed to their law firms.  Pro bono embodies firm values, gives lawyers a larger sense of purpose that goes beyond monetary gain, and enables colleagues at all seniority levels to work collaboratively toward a common goal, which fosters strong and deep relationships.

Want a happier and more engaged law firm? Create a vibrant and meaningful pro bono program.   You don’t have to reinvent the wheel or go it alone.  Contact the Law Firm Pro Bono Project for assistance.

 

Hat tip to PBI intern Erin Killeen for her help with this post.

November 13, 2017

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday: A Conversation with Jacqui MacLennan & Lou O’Neill

This week, Jacquelyn MacLennan and Louis O’Neill of White & Case*† join PBI on the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour, to discuss leading the firm’s global practice group and using a “closed feedback loop” to keep pro bono lawyers informed about the impact of their work and inspire others to join them. Lou and Jacqui share management tips and describe examples of meaningful pro bono projects, such as debt-for-nature swaps and advocacy efforts to promote education and women’s rights. White & Case recently hosted a unique gathering in New York City in connection with the UN General Assembly to foster collaboration among private sector and pro bono leaders to promote its Sustainable Development Goals, with special focus on Goal 16.3, whereby signatories pledge to: “Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.” Take 60 minutes to listen to our conversation with Jacqui and Lou describe how the firm promotes pro bono in each of its offices around the world.

Subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts and be sure to leave a review! We’d appreciate the feedback and it would help make it easier for other listeners to find the show. The podcast is also available on YouTube. Links to all of our episodes can be found here.

Listen and let us know what you think. Send your comments, thoughts, feedback, questions, and suggestions to probono@probonoinst.org. Be warned: we might just read them on the air.

* denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

† denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Project® member

November 9, 2017

Lawyers Read: Refugee by Alan Gratz

Need a new book to curl up with as the temperature drops? Looking for effective ways to communicate the impact of your pro bono work and the backgrounds of some of your clients? Check out Refugee by Alan Gratz, which tells the story of three different children, living on different continents, spanning decades of time. Although the characters of this novel are from completely separate worlds, they have “one mission in common: ESCAPE.” Gratz weaves the tales of Josef, a Jewish boy living in Nazi Germany in the 1930s, Isabel, a Cuban girl experiencing riots and unrest in 1994, and Mahmoud, a Syrian boy fleeing civil war in 2015, as they embark on dangerous treks in search of safety and refuge. As one enthusiastic reviewer observed, author “does his history homework and then hides it in a total page turner. . .  There are explosions, sharks, gunshots, paranoia, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle merchandise, armed robberies, a cute kitten, tear-gas bombs, greased-doorknob pranks, a bar mitzvah, and a bad guy so bad he beheads a child’s stuffed animal.”

While Refugee is a work of historical fiction, the stories of the children depicted are all too familiar to lawyers who work in this space. To hear more about our take on Refugee and the important pro bono work being done to aid immigrants and refugees tune in to our conversation with BJ Jensen of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison*† on the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour.

* denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Signatory

† denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Project® Member

November 6, 2017

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday: A Conversation with Andrew LeGrand

This week, Andrew LeGrand of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher*† joins PBI on the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour, to share his views on empowering self-represented litigants and supporting “civil Gideon” for litigants facing more complex matters. He is inspired by the leaders of the civil rights movement and sees the law as the “most potent mechanism to affect social change.” Tapping into his network from his time as a clerk, Andrew helped build an informal pro bono appellate program at the firm with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Take 40 minutes to listen to our conversation with Andrew and be inspired to make time for pro bono.

Subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts and be sure to leave a review! We’d appreciate the feedback and it would help make it easier for other listeners to find the show. The podcast is also available on YouTube. Links to all of our episodes can be found here.

Listen and let us know what you think. Send your comments, thoughts, feedback, questions, and suggestions to probono@probonoinst.org. Be warned: we might just read them on the air.

* denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

† denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Project® member

November 2, 2017

We Have a New Look and New Address!

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
– John F. Kennedy

This week we released our new brand identity including a new logo for Pro Bono Institute (PBI), Law Firm Pro Bono Project, and Corporate Pro Bono, a global partnership project of PBI and Association of Corporate Counsel. Our new look reflects our bold, innovative mission and the past 20 years of transforming the pro bono landscape with you.

You’ll see the new branding on our correspondence, website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn pages. Curious about our logo’s history? Check out this video on the evolution of our logo.

We’ve also moved! Although we were sad to leave Farragut North, we are getting settled in a new space at Metro Center: 1001 G St., NW, Suite 305 West, Washington, DC 20001.  Next time you are in the area for a game or concert at the Capitol One Arena, grabbing a bite in Chinatown or strolling around the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, be sure to stop by and visit.

Our new look and space enhance our commitment to transform pro bono with you. Thank you for strengthening access to justice through pro bono!

October 30, 2017

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday: A Conversation with Amy Barasch

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and this week on the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour, we are joined by Amy Barasch of Her Justice. Amy describes their “pro bono first” model; how Her Justice provides specialized support to pro bono attorneys; and the challenges faced by women who experience intimate partner violence, including issues related to divorce, immigration, and poverty. She also discusses Her Justice’s externship program with law firms and how one extern established an important precedent. Take 40 minutes to listen to our conversation with Amy Barasch about the crucial role of pro bono in empowering survivors of intimate partner violence.

Subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts and be sure to leave a review! We’d appreciate the feedback and it would help make it easier for other listeners to find the show. The podcast is also available on YouTube. Links to all of our episodes can be found here.

Listen and let us know what you think. Send your comments, thoughts, feedback, questions, and suggestions to probono@probonoinst.org. Be warned: we might just read them on the air.

October 26, 2017

The Year of the Law Firm Merger

According to every indication, 2017 is poised to be a record year for law firm mergers. Altman Weil’s MergerLine reports that the end of the third quarter of this year, there have already been 76 deals. This pace signals that the 2015 record of 91 deals is likely to be broken and experts predict that there could be more than 100 combinations this year.

Mergers involve many complicated and moving pieces (compensation policies; client conflicts issues; leadership and administrative reorganization and consolidation; etc.) and can create anxiety and tension. Pro bono, however, can be an effective piece of a larger and long-term integration process. It is important that pro bono does not get lost in the shuffle and that firms think carefully about how to sync different pro bono cultures, policies, staffing and governance structures, priorities, budgets, projects, and more.

If your firm is involved in a merger, check out the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s checklist, which provides a summary of issues and ideas to get you started as your pro bono program moves forward. Visit our Resource Clearinghouse to download the checklist, which is free for Law Firm Project members and available to all others for purchase. We are also available for individual consultations to help you best navigate your specific merger-related transitions. In addition, tune in to our podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour, to hear from Ballard Spahr’s*† Mary Gay Scanlon, about the firm’s upcoming merger with Lindquist & Vennum*.

* denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

† denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Project® member

October 23, 2017

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday: A Conversation with Mary Gay Scanlon

Mary Gay Scanlon of Ballard Spahr*† joins PBI on the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour, to explore how she connects lawyers with pro bono opportunities tailored to their interests, motivates attorneys with a sticker incentive program and alerts, and how the firm’s upcoming merger with Lindquist & Vennum will reinforce both firms’ strong commitments to pro bono. Mary Gay also discusses the increase in immigration-related pro bono since January, pro bono efforts to promote access to nutritious food, broadcasting leadership’s pro bono work throughout the firm, and cultivating a mindfulness practice to reduce stress. Take 55 minutes to listen to our conversation with Mary Gay about the transformational power of pro bono.

Subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts and be sure to leave a review! We’d appreciate the feedback and it would help make it easier for other listeners to find the show. The podcast is also available on YouTube. Links to all of our episodes can be found here.

Listen and let us know what you think. Send your comments, thoughts, feedback, questions, and suggestions to probono@probonoinst.org. Be warned: we might just read them on the air.

* denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

† denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Project® member

October 19, 2017

#CelebrateProBono

We are #ProBonoProud and celebrated outstanding achievements in pro bono service and strengthening access to justice last month at our own Annual Dinner. Sensitively recognizing pro bono efforts has the power to sustain and transform pro bono programs. In addition to being meaningful for deserving individuals, and teams to be acknowledged, doing so can be educational, inspiring, and help recruit newcomers to the pro bono community.

The ABA’s 2017 National Celebration of Pro Bono is right around the corner. From October 22 to October 28, the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service will be encouraging greater participation in pro bono work by lawyers nationwide and to use the week as a tool to enhance access to justice for all. You can find National Pro Bono Celebration events across the country and near you by using the 2017 Events Map. Check out www.celebrateprobono.org for more information about the Celebration such as pro bono stories, resources, and more.

As they say: “Do Good. Do Justice. Do Pro Bono.”

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