The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
August 17, 2017

Why Pay More?

Dozens of law firms have become Law Firm Pro Bono Project members for 2017-2018.  These firms have publically demonstrated their leadership and commitment to pro bono and access to justice.

As a member firm, you will have exclusive access to resources to help ensure the health and vitality of your pro bono program, such as expert (confidential) consultative services; discounted registration for every individual from your firm attending the PBI Annual Conference; free webinars; and access to the Project’s members-only section of our Resource Clearinghouse. Our customized advice can help your firm develop or restructure its pro bono governance and staffing, engage in strategic planning, establish a pro bono project with a corporate client, enhance your use of pro bono as a training, professional development, and retention tool, and more. Check out our member benefits page for more details on these and other valuable benefits.

Submit your firm’s enrollment form or join online before September 1 to receive a 10% discount:

Please contact Law Firm Project Assistant Elysse DeRita, if you have any questions.

We look forward to welcoming your law firm as a member soon!

August 14, 2017

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday

McDermott Will & Emery’s*†  Elizabeth Lewis focuses on the firm’s pro bono and community service initiatives. A “full service law firm,” McDermott’s pro bono program is known for its advocacy for LGBTQ individuals, its work representing Sikh soldiers in practicing their religion through a US Army rules change, and more. Elizabeth, the firm’s Pro Bono and community Service Partner, says she is “inspired by [McDermott] lawyers” and gets to see the good in humanity every day. Take 45 minutes to listen to Elizabeth share some of her special experiences representing children and families on the latest episode of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour. Based in Chicago, she also reveals whether she is a Cubs or White Sox fan.

 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 us expand the conversation about pro bono and access to justice. The podcast is also available on YouTube. Links to all of our episodes can be found here.

Listen along 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.

August 10, 2017

Is Bigger Better?

In June, PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project released its 2016 Report on the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®, which examines the pro bono activities of Challenge signatories.

We’ve previously shared highlights about law firm charitable giving to legal services organizations, pro bono time devoted to those of limited means and attorney participation rates. 2016 marked the second year that we analyzed pro bono performance by firm size. Firms with headcounts of more than 1,000 attorneys had the highest average pro bono percentage in 2016 (4.06%).

We also looked at average pro bono hours per attorney and attorney participation rates by firm size:

We are thankful to all signatories, regardless of headcount, for their service and pro bono leadership.

To learn more about the state of law firm pro bono, check out the complete Challenge Report, including analysis of the data, detailed graphs, and more. Also, tune in to the Law Firm Project’s discussion of the Report and Pro Bono: Beyond the Numbers on its podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour. If your firm of 50 or more lawyers would like to join the Challenge and become visible pro bono leaders, please contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Elysse DeRita.

August 8, 2017

Join CPBO to Learn About the Ethics of In-House Pro Bono

The 2017 ACC Annual Meeting may feel like a ways away, but it’s never too early to start deciding which sessions to check out! There will be a number of in-house pro bono-related events, including the session “Ethics of In-house Pro Bono” (Tuesday, October 12, 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm). The session will provide an overview of the ethical issues in-house attorneys face when representing clients in pro bono matters in the U.S. and around the globe, as well as address practical issues related to in-house pro bono. Topics will include administering a pro bono program, managing conflicts (both legal and business), and securing malpractice insurance. CPBO is excited to announce the following speakers will be presenting at the session:

In addition, don’t forget to register for the Clinic in a Box® program (Monday, October 16, 8:30 am – 1:15 pm) to assist local nonprofits and earn CLE. Contact CPBO Project Assistant, Virginia Lyon.

To find out more about in-house pro bono or CPBO at the ACC Annual Meeting contact CPBO at cpbo@probonoinst.org. We look forward to seeing you in DC!

**denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory
† denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Project® member

August 7, 2017

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday

Rebecca Naylor has always been a passionate advocate for human rights. Becca manages the firm’s pro bono efforts in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia together with 70 champions at all levels throughout the firm. She spent 10-12 hour days assisting refugees in Greece and Jordan with her Reed Smith* colleagues. Take 40 minutes to listen to Becca talk about her experiences on the latest episode of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour.

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 us expand the conversation about access to justice. The podcast is also available on YouTube. Links to all of our episodes can be found here.

Listen along 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

August 3, 2017

Summer at PBI

From left to right: Madeline Jenks, Kelsey Muniz, Sahil Shah, and Erin Killeen.

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.

This summer, we welcomed our eighth class of Sheehan Scholars: Madeline Jenks (Harvard Law School) and Erin Killeen (Georgetown University Law Center). Bob Sheehan, who oversees the pro bono program at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom*†, former Executive Partner (1994-2009) 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 Erin and Madeline for spending their summers with us. They were joined by two terrific undergraduates from the University of Michigan: Kelsey Muniz and Sahil Shah.

Our interns and Sheehan Scholars worked on a variety of projects – large and small – and you will continue to see the fruits of their labors in the weeks and months ahead. We are grateful for their diligence, dedication, and 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. And stay tuned: you’ll be hearing more about their time at PBI on an upcoming episode of our Pro Bono Happy Hour podcast.

* denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® signatory
† denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Project® member

August 1, 2017

On Wachtel’s Watch, 90% of Discover Financial’s Legal Team Provides Pro Bono

On July 17, The Chicago Bar Association and The Chicago Bar Foundation presented Gary Wachtel, Senior Director in the law department of Discover Financial Services** and chair of Discover’s Pro Bono Committee, with the Exelon Outstanding Corporate Counsel Award. Endowed by Exelon Corporation**, the award recognizes “the generally unsung pro bono contributions of outstanding attorneys in the corporate sector.” It is a well-deserved recognition. In addition to personally dedicating numerous hours to pro bono, in his role as committee chair, Wachtel has expanded Discover’s pro bono engagement and encouraged colleagues to participate. Under his leadership as committee chair, more than 90% of Discover’s legal team has undertaken pro bono or volunteer projects in their communities, totaling nearly 1,500 hours of pro bono service.  Wachtel has also collaborated with other legal departments to increase access to justice and build the culture of in-house pro bono in the area.

One of Wachtel’s biggest accomplishments to date is leading Discover’s partnership with the non-profits, Between Friends and LAF (Legal Assistance Foundation), to establish a free help desk for survivors of domestic violence at the Cook County Courthouse in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. Volunteer attorneys from Allstate Insurance Company**, Discover, DLA Piper*, and Illinois Tool Works Inc. receive training from LAF regarding domestic violence law and strategies to properly interact with survivors. Following their training, the attorneys staff the help desk with support from LAF to help survivors navigating the difficult and emotional legal process. Access to legal representation is vital for survivors, providing them with critical information that they might not otherwise receive and increasing their chances of quickly and successfully obtaining protection orders.

In addition to the Rolling Meadows Help Desk, Wachtel and Discover have become a strong partner with DLA Piper and LAF at their monthly legal services clinic in the Woodlawn neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois.  Discover joined the Woodlawn Legal Clinic team in 2013 and since then dozens of Discover volunteers have contributed hundreds of pro bono hours.

CPBO congratulates Wachtel for his deep commitment to pro bono work and public service in his community. For more information on the Rolling Meadows Domestic Violence Help Desk, click here and here. For more information on the Woodlawn Legal Clinic, check out Wachtel’s 2016 guest blog here.

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

Hat tip to PBI intern Sahil Shah for his help on this post.

July 31, 2017

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday

Don’t miss the latest episode of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour, featuring Theodore Howard of Wiley Rein*†. Ted talks to us about serving as the firm’s first full-time Pro Bono Partner, his pro bono work on behalf of inmates and prison reform efforts, the firm’s pro bono program, and more.

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 us expand the conversation about access to justice. The podcast is also available on YouTube. Links to all of our episodes can be found here.

Listen along 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

July 28, 2017

CPBO in the Windy City

On July 12, CPBO made its yearly trip _ to Chicago to meet with in-house pro bono leaders from the metro area as well as co-host the 7th annual ACC Chicago Clinic in a Box® program with the ACC Chicago Chapter, the Community Law Project, and DLA Piper*†.

Upon arriving in Chicago, CPBO met with local in-house pro bono leaders to discuss ways to build and improve in-house pro bono programs and to share recent developments in in-house pro bono. Hosted by Discover Financial Services**, attendees discussed various pro bono initiatives, legal services organization partnerships, and ideas for deepening pro bono engagement in legal departments. The meeting was well attended with representatives from large and small legal departments throughout the Chicago metro area.

Early the next day, at the new offices of DLA Piper, CPBO welcomed 47 attorneys and professional staff from legal departments throughout Chicagoland, ready to assist 14 local nonprofits. Due to the success of last year’s select topic clinic, the partnering organizations opted to work on another specific area of concern to nonprofits: sick leave policies and separation agreements. Volunteers began the day with an hour and a half training session led by attorneys from DLA Piper. Volunteers then met with representatives of a nonprofit organization to draft or revise the organization’s leave policies and a form separation agreement, providing the organization with documents to take at the end of the clinic.

By providing legal assistance to these nonprofits, the volunteers helped ensure that these organizations can sustain the services they offer to the community, ranging from eradicating racism through theater arts to creating opportunities for refugees fleeing war. One client expressed appreciation for the clinic, “This was great, well organized, and the volunteers were exceptional – so knowledgeable, so friendly, so helpful.” CPBO would like to thank the organizers and volunteers for their time and effort in making this clinic a success.

For more information about in-house pro bono training opportunities, including past CPBO Clinic in a Box® programs, click here and 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.

* 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

July 27, 2017

The Essence of Pro Bono

PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project released its annual Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge Report®, which examines the pro bono activities of Challenge signatories.

We’ve previously shared highlights and written about attorney pro bono participation rates and law firm charitable giving. Another takeaway from 2016 is the percentage of total pro bono time devoted to those of limited means and the organizations that serve them. The Challenge asks firms to devote “a majority” of their pro bono time  “to persons of limited means or to charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental, and educational organizations in matters which are designed primarily to address the needs of persons limited means” (Principal 3). In 2016, 69.1 percent of all pro bono time was devoted to those of limited means and the organizations that serve them. Again this year, we are pleased that this important Challenge goal is being met. Furthermore, this data helps expose as myth any perception that large law firms are not adequately supporting legal aid programs and that they should do more before additional resources and other funding streams, particularly public ones, are tapped.

Check out the complete Challenge Report, including analysis of the data, detailed graphs, and more. And, tune in to the Law Firm Project’s discussion of the Report in Pro Bono: Beyond the Numbers , a recent episode of its podcast: the Pro Bono Happy Hour.

If your firm of 50 or more lawyers would like to join the Challenge and become visible pro bono leaders, please contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Elysse DeRita.

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