The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
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.

September 1, 2015

Video: WDPB – Sarah Nolan, Brooklyn Defender Services

After working on her very first pro bono asylum case as a law firm associate, Sarah Nolan, pro bono counsel, Brooklyn Defender Services, knew that she wanted to do more pro bono and dedicate her career to immigration work.

August 27, 2015

Katrina and the Legacy of Pro Bono

fleurThis month marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the devastating toll it took on the Gulf Coast. The legal profession had a key role to play in helping those affected by the storm rebuild their lives and their communities in both the immediate aftermath and the long-term.

Residents of New Orleans and the surrounding areas were confronted by a slew of critical legal needs in the wake of the hurricane, but the region lacked the capacity to adequately meet the demand. Pro bono lawyers and law students from around the country stepped in, both remotely and by travelling to the Gulf Coast, to help local legal services organizations and assist with housing issues, reconstruction of important legal documents destroyed by the storm, insurance claims, and other pressing needs. Read more here and listen to a StoryCorps recording in which The Pro Bono Project shares first-person memories of the amazing and generous pro bono response and creative collaborations that took place during the aftermath of Katrina.

The PBEye has previously written about how lawyers can meaningfully contribute to recovery efforts. Lessons learned from the pro bono response to September 11 were applied in response to Katrina; lessons learned from Katrina were implemented during the response to Superstorm Sandy. Going forward, the legal community must continue to develop protocols and resources that will enable pro bono lawyers to be proactive, efficient, and effective in response to future crises. Law firms, legal services organizations, law schools, and others are actively engaged in advance planning, developing innovations such as the Disaster Assistance Recovery Tool, an app aimed at helping survivors of natural disasters through the process of applying for disaster relief benefits. This anniversary is a visible reminder that there is still much work to be done to strengthen the legal community’s disaster preparedness infrastructure so that we can more effectively leverage pro bono efforts and resources to address critical needs.

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

August 26, 2015

Partnership Develops Tools to Aid Judges in South Asia

s asia

South Asia has suffered from a significant amount of terrorist violence over the years. For example, 38 percent of terrorist incidents in 2013 occurred in South Asia, according to the Global Center on Cooperative Security. In 2014, according to the U.S. State Department, more than 60 percent of terrorist attacks took place in just five countries (Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Nigeria), of which three are in South Asia; nearly 6,700 people died from terrorist attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India that year.

In recognition of the need to build expertise in the adjudication of terrorism-related cases, the Global Center and the UN Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) launched a project to engage South Asian judges to develop strategies to improve the handling of such cases. One of the project’s goals was the development of a regional toolkit to help guide judges in their adjudication of such cases, which could in turn support the development of national bench books.

Pro bono lawyers from** and Salesforce Foundation, in partnership with Baker & McKenzie*†, rose to the challenge of preparing such a regional toolkit.

When Salesforce began its pro bono program in 2014, it was eager to find a global project that could be done by its lawyers around the world. Drafting this regional toolkit fit the bill, and partnering with a global law firm like Baker & McKenzie allowed Salesforce to match up its lawyers with nearby law firm lawyers in different offices. Teams in Paris, London, Toronto, San Francisco, and New York contributed to the creation of this toolkit, which was recently submitted to the Global Center and CTED. The toolkit is practice-oriented and follows customary international and human rights law and norms relating to court proceedings for terrorism offenses. It is expected to be discussed at the 10th “Regional Workshop for Judges, Prosecutors, and Police in South Asia on Effectively Countering Terrorism” in Bangkok this October and may ultimately be used as a template for judges and judicial academies in other regions as well.

This project is the latest example of how partnerships in pro bono, particularly on a global scale, can provide meaningful assistance on important issues. The PBEye salutes Salesforce and Baker & McKenzie on a job well done.

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

August 25, 2015

You’re Invited: CPBO’s Pro Bono Breakfast at the ACC Annual Meeting

2015 ACC Annual Meeting

CPBO has a lot planned this year for its trip to Boston for the 2015 ACC Annual Meeting from October 18-21. On Tuesday, October 20, CPBO will host a Pro Bono Breakfast, at which attendees will meet with CPBO and other in-house counsel to share information about pro bono trends and best practices in in-house pro bono. The breakfast provides an informal opportunity for in-house counsel to network with their peers to discuss both the challenges and successes that they have encountered in their own pro bono programs.

To find out more about CPBO’s presence at this year’s ACC Annual Meeting, including the hosting of a session on “The Chief Legal Officer’s View of In-House Pro Bono,” as well as a Clinic in a Box® co-hosted by CPBO, ACC Northeast, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo*†, and The Lawyers Clearinghouse, read “CPBO at the 2015 ACC Annual Meeting in Beantown.” For more information on in-house pro bono or to pre-register for the Pro Bono Breakfast, please contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon. We look forward to seeing you there!


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


August 20, 2015

What’s Your Pro Bono Leadership Style?

leadershipLooking to assess your strengths and weaknesses as a pro bono leader? Check out this Harvard Business Review tool that analyzes how leaders’ styles mesh with their teams and organizational cultures.

Are you empathetic, with a knack for team-building and talent-spotting? Then perhaps you’re a collaborator. If you’re an independent and creative problem solver, you might be a composer. Choose from a list of eight leadership archetypes the ones that best describe your “go-to” and secondary pro bono leadership styles to get immediate feedback and a thorough analysis of your strengths, weaknesses, and potential blind spots.

For additional resources to help you hone your pro bono leadership and strengthen your firm’s pro bono program, 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. All materials are available free to Law Firm Pro Bono Project Member Firms by instant download. Member Firms can register by clicking here, and there is no limit to the number of individual accounts a firm can have. Non-Members may also access the Resource Clearinghouse and view and purchase select documents. If your firm is not yet a Member, join today! If you have questions or need assistance with registration, please contact Eva Richardson.

August 13, 2015

Thanks to Our Summer Crew!

From left to right: Adam Baginski, Nate Hyman, Ali Remick, and Mike Andreani

From left to right: Adam Baginski, Nate Hyman, Ali Remick, and Mike Andreani

Summer is flying by and The PBEye would like to thank our Sheehan Scholars and interns for their hard work over the past few months.

We welcomed our sixth class of Sheehan Scholars this summer: Mike Andreani and Nate Hyman (Georgetown University Law Center). Bob Sheehan, who oversees the pro bono program at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom*†, former Executive Partner (1994-2009) of the firm and Co-Chair of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project Advisory Committee (2001-2015), and his family provided the financial support to launch this program in 2010, which has been named in his honor in recognition of his extraordinary pro bono leadership. We are grateful to the Sheehan family for their generosity and to Mike and Nate for spending their summer with us. They were joined by two terrific undergraduate interns: Adam Baginski (University of Michigan) and Ali Remick (Georgetown University).

Our interns and Sheehan Scholars worked on a variety of projects – large and small – and you’ve seen the fruits of their labors. We are grateful for their diligence and dedication, and we especially enjoyed their energy and fresh perspectives. We are also appreciative of the firms and individuals who supported our summer program by inviting our interns and staff to events and donating time to provide additional professional development opportunities.

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

August 11, 2015

Mobilizing Pro Bono

In thATT blog imagee spring of 2013, two weeks after attending an immigration law training session hosted by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld*, AT&T Inc.** volunteers put their skills to use by participating in a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival mega-clinic. At the clinic, set in a local Dallas high school that serves a large immigrant population, AT&T attorneys counseled more than 250 immigrants regarding eligibility and in filling out detailed applications. The clinic was designed as a one-day project; however, one client who needed more assistance stuck out to Belinda Marin Boling, a co-chair of AT&T’s southwest region’s pro bono program, and she felt compelled to continue her representation.

The client, a senior at the high school, had walked for more than an hour just to attend the clinic, and she did not arrive alone: she had come with her four younger siblings in tow, all of whom had been under her care since the abduction of her mother six months prior. With support from the Human Rights Initiative, Boling helped the client apply for a Special Juvenile Immigrant Status (SJIS) visa, a pathway to become a Lawful Permanent Resident that is available only to minors who have been abandoned, abused, or neglected. Tragically, a protest in Mexico closed the only road to her father’s village and prevented the delivery of the papers required for this SJIS filing before the filing deadline of the client’s eighteenth birthday. On that day, the day on which she had “aged out” of the SJIS requirements, police informed the client and her family that their mother had been brutally murdered.

On the heels of this horrific news, AT&T and the Human Rights Initiative filed an application for a U-Visa that gives victims of certain crimes temporary legal status and work eligibility in the U.S., and, which after three years, allows the holder to apply for a green card; although only 10,000 of such U-Visas are awarded each fiscal year, this client’s application was successful! After graduating fourth in her class, the client is now a student at Texas A&M University with a social security number and employment authorization, all thanks to the work of AT&T and its partners.

With the necessary support and training from its partners, AT&T was able to save its client from the risk of deportation, so that she can continue to use her education, intelligence, and drive to support her family and to fulfill her dream of becoming a physician. Indeed, partnerships like the one between AT&T, Akin Gump, and the Human Rights Initiative reveal that some of the best pro bono doesn’t necessarily happen in the courtroom or end at the close of a clinic.

For more information on immigration-related pro bono work read Pro Bono Assistance for Young Immigrants or listen to the webinar, Pro Bono in Practice: Immigration Update.

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

August 6, 2015

Paying it Forward: Why Investing in Legal Aid Makes Economic Sense

justiceThe pro bono community understands that providing assistance to those in need of civil legal aid is a profound public-private partnership. Access to justice is a core value, but is it fiscally prudent? In other words, what is the economic impact of funding legal services?

Diverse jurisdictions (i.e., Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia) have commissioned studies to measure just this statistic, and they have yielded some remarkable results. According to a recent study entitled “Economic Impact of Civil Legal Aid Organizations in Tennessee,” a one-dollar investment in legal services returns $11.21 in economic benefit for the state. Tennessee isn’t alone in its remarkable return on investment; a similar study conducted by the Pennsylvania IOLTA Board concluded that their investment in legal services has an eleven fold return in economic benefit for the state.

While the methodologies of these studies have differed slightly, most analyses have focused on common measures, such as the value of federal benefits obtained for legal aid clients. The studies also examined secondary and less tangible gains associated with funding legal services, such as the economic multiplier effect, which measures the increased economic activity resulting from economic inflows into a state. Increased federal benefits and wages give recipients greater spending and purchasing power, thus stimulating general economic activity and promoting growth.

Finally, studies documented the state savings associated with funding legal services for low-income citizens. They primarily focused on two categories: savings associated with curtailing foreclosure and eviction proceedings and savings associated with preventing domestic violence or abuse. By estimating the potential costs associated with a housing or domestic violence incident, such as the cost of emergency shelter and medical care, and by documenting that the state would avoid certain costs with proper legal intervention, the studies were able to measure the significant savings states achieve as a result of legal services funding. And just as studies looked at the secondary benefits of the economic multiplier effect, so too did they look to the positive secondary gains associated with reduced foreclosures and evictions. For example, decreasing the number of foreclosures prevented surrounding houses and neighborhoods from becoming devalued, protecting the valuable equity of these neighboring homeowners.

These studies and data sets remind us that increasing funding for civil legal aid is not only the right thing to do in order to assure equal access to justice for all, but a smart investment at all levels of government.

Hat tip to PBI intern Nate Hyman for his help with this post.

August 5, 2015

CPBO to Co-Host Clinic in a Box® Program – Nonprofit Policies at the 2015 ACC Annual Meeting

2015 ACC Annual MeetingOn Monday, October 19, CPBO will once again join ACC Northeast, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo*†, and The Lawyers Clearinghouse to co-host a Clinic in a Box® program. For the first time at an ACC Annual meeting, CPBO will utilize its new Clinic in a Box® Program – Select Topic model, which has a similar format and structure to the traditional model, but focuses on a specific topic rather than a broad legal audit of attending client organizations. The clinic will focus on anti-discrimination issues and the following important policies for nonprofits: Equal Employment Opportunity Policy and Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy.

The clinic will begin with a one and a half hour training session led by the expert attorneys from Mintz Levin. Volunteers will then meet in teams to assist the clients in drafting policies so that they may be implemented immediately. The entire clinic is three and a half hours and provides a great opportunity to aid organizations that may otherwise be unable to afford such assistance. For more information, see Clinic in a Box® Program – Nonprofit Policies FAQs.

Registration is required to volunteer. If you are attending the 2015 ACC Annual Meeting and would like to attend the clinic, please register by using the meeting registration portal. If you are interested in volunteering, but are not attending the meeting, please contact CPBO Project Assistant Josh Lefebvre for registration details.

To find out more about the Clinic in a Box® program, other CPBO events at the 2015 ACC Annual Meeting, or how to schedule a time to meet with CPBO while at the Annual Meeting, please contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon. We look forward to seeing you in Boston!

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

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