The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
February 12, 2016

Capital One Clinic Kicks off 2016

Winter Storm Jonas dropping more than a foot of snow on Richmond, Virginia, a few days earlier failed to chill the enthusiasm of 32 volunteers at the Clinic in a Box® Program – Legal Audit, co-hosted on January 28, by CPBO, Capital One Financial Corporation**, Troutman Sanders*, and Greater Richmond Bar Foundation (GRBF).

It was the second clinic hosted at the Troutman Sanders Richmond office and staffed by Capital One volunteers, many of whom returned to receive expert training from attorneys at Troutman Sanders and meet in teams to provide a legal health check-up to 11 local nonprofit organizations invited by GRBF. Feedback from volunteers included comments on how much they “enjoyed the experience” and “loved the opportunity” to help clients, while also finding the training session to be “very informative.”

capone clinic (2)Clients were led through a detailed checklist covering governance, employment, intellectual property, real estate, and tax matters. The purpose of the audit is to proactively address legal questions, both known and latent, to avoid future costly issues that might impair the organizations’ ability to continue their good work in the community, including advocating for civil rights, mentoring children, providing medical and dental care and pharmacy services, and preventing and reducing substance abuse. After the clinic, clients remarked that they learned “a great deal more than [they] expected!” and found the experience working with the Capital One volunteers to be both “wonderful” and “very valuable.”

The PBEye congratulates Capital One on a successful clinic.

Thcapone clinic (1)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, 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

February 11, 2016

Conference Sneak Peek: Law Firms Collaborating for Justice

The 2016 PBI Annual Conference is quickly approaching and one of this year’s highlights for law firm attendees is a session about collaborating on large-scale, multi-firm pro bono efforts.

Working Together: A Case Study in Collaborative Law Firm Pro Bono will feature an ambitious multi-firm effort to assist Indian citizens in pursuing claims of labor trafficking. After a federal judge refused to let the Southern Poverty Law Center’s law suit against Signal International, a marine services company that defrauded and exploited workers from India, go forward as a class action, nearly a dozen large law firms agreed to represent individuals on a pro bono basis. We encourage law firm attendees to join us on March 23 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. to learn about issues such as overcoming obstacles to collaboration, including joint ownership versus individual “credit,” disagreements over strategy, maximizing institutional resources and infrastructure while streamlining administration, use of technology, the role of public interest partners, and sustaining interest.

For additional background, check out our interview with John Fleming of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan*† on the Pro Bono Happy Hour, the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast featuring lively conversations about law firm pro bono, news, and best practices. John, who will be a panelist for the Conference session, discusses how Sutherland got involved, what it was like collaborating with other law firms, and more. You can subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour in iTunes and links to all of the episodes can be found here.

If you have questions about the Conference or need assistance with registration, please email us or call 202.973.8720. We look forward to seeing you in March!

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

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February 8, 2016

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday

Podcast Box LFPToo much fun at your Super Bowl party yesterday? Need an antidote for the Monday blues? Tune in to the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour, and learn about about exciting and meaningful developments in the world of law firm pro bono. 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.

You don’t want to miss our recent episodes, featuring Scottie Brown of Hunton & Williams*† and Jonathan Baum of Katten Muchin Rosenman†. Subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour in iTunes. Podcast subscribers receive weekly new episode alerts, which you can then download and listen to at your convenience. The podcast is also available on YouTube. Links to all of the episodes can be found here.

Listen along and let us know what you think. Send your comments, feedback, and suggestions to probono@probonoinst.org.

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

February 4, 2016

Warm Up This Winter with Pro Bono

The National Law Journal recently released its annual Pro Bono Hot List, which showcases significant and noteworthy pro bono efforts at major law firms.

This year’s issue recognized 10 Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Signatories and/or Law Firm Pro Bono Project Member Firms for “raising the bar” through their inspiring and exceptional pro bono initiatives: Chadbourne & Parke*† (advising a Virginia task force on the creation of a human trafficking prevention foundation); Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton* (winning a unanimous jury verdict in New Jersey against a firm promising “conversion therapy” for LGBTQ youth); DLA Piper*† (working with Texas Appleseed to decriminalize truancy in the state); Hogan Lovells*† (securing a U.S. Supreme Court victory on behalf of a former federal air marshal and whistleblower); Jenner & Block*† (fighting to upgrade discharges for Vietnam veterans now known to have been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder); Kirkland & Ellis*† (litigating on behalf of low-income tenants in California and against a North Carolina law imposing restrictive voting requirements); Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe*† (working to exonerate a California man on death row); Paul Hastings*† (creating an online guide to help journalists understand their rights to free speech and freedom of information under international law); Robins Kaplan*† (winning a court battle to extend the Affordable Care Act’s civil rights protections to transgender individuals seeking medical care); and Weil, Gotshal & Manges*† (leading a class action case resulting in the termination of long-term solitary confinement in California prisons).

Whether by protecting human rights and civil liberties or by fighting to reform the criminal justice system and election laws, these large-scale pro bono efforts are deserving of attention and praise for making an impact, being strategic, and tackling underlying legal issues to mitigate systemic problems and effectuate meaningful change. It is especially encouraging to see law firms making significant commitments of time and resources to undertake major pro bono matters. We will be highlighting similar pro bono initiatives at the 2016 PBI Annual Conference, which will be held March 23-25 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. Please join us at the Conference to continue the celebration and dialogue about cutting-edge pro bono endeavors and celebrate the achievements of the pro bono community.

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

denotes a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project

Hat tip to PBI intern Maria Vlasie for her help with this post.

January 25, 2016

Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Reporting Is Now Open!

20th Anniversary logo (project colors)Reporting season for the 2015 calendar year is now open. We have emailed unique survey links to all Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Signatories, so be sure to check your spam filter if you did not receive yours. The deadline for reporting is February 26.

Each year, Challenge Signatories provide a brief, electronic report to the Law Firm Pro Bono Project on their progress in meeting the Challenge. The individual firm data is kept confidential, but each submission provides the basis for critically important aggregate statistics about trends in law firm pro bono. Please assist us in communicating the good news about the pro bono work of law firms to our colleagues in the legal profession and to the public with your prompt submission of the electronic reporting form. We also urge you to let us know about your firm’s accomplishments and news.

Since 1993, the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®, an initiative of PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project, has served as a guidepost to assist major law firms in increasing their commitment to pro bono legal services. The Challenge principles are designed to offer institutional support and maximize the efficacy of law firm pro bono programs. The Challenge definition of pro bono has become an industry standard, utilized not only by major law firms but by the legal media in reporting the pro bono contributions of large law firms.

Interested in joining your peer firms and becoming a Challenge Signatory? Firms with 50 or more lawyers are welcome to join the Challenge at any point in the year and are given a grace period before the reporting requirement kicks in. Please contact Law Firm Project Assistant Eva Richardson for more information on becoming a Signatory and a leader in law firm pro bono.

January 22, 2016

2016 PBI Annual Conference: Addressing a Global Mass Migration Crisis (Pro Bono in Practice)

The 2016 PBI Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. is just two months away, and one of this year’s highlights is a session on mass migration. If you’ve been concerned about the international refugee crisis and wondered what you can do to help, you won’t want to miss it.

Nearly 60 million people are currently displaced from their homes by war and persecution — more than at any time since World War II. Half are children. Where are the lawyers? On March 24, the Addressing a Global Mass Migration Crisis (Pro Bono in Practice) session will provide an update on what’s being done to save lives and protect refugees, development, and legal migration and mobility and how pro bono lawyers can help.

If you haven’t already, be sure to register for the Conference, and save on fees if you do so by February 10th. If you have questions or need assistance with registration, please email us or call 202.973.8720.

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January 21, 2016

May the Pro Bono Force Be With You – at the PBI Annual Conference (Part Two)

yoda.1Last week, inspired by “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” we shared some of Yoda’s wisdom and lessons for law firm pro bono. Today, we channel Yoda for three compelling reasons to attend the 2016 Pro Bono Institute Annual Conference (March 23-25) in Washington, DC:

“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not.”

Many mid-size law firms support accomplished, nimble, and sustained pro bono programs. What does the future hold for these firms? “Making Pro Bono Successful at Mid-Size Firms” (Wednesday, March 23) will explore best practices and the unique challenges and features of a mid-size firm. The discussion is custom designed for firms with fewer than 500 lawyers.

“You must unlearn what you have learned.”

Some in the pro bono community may still hold outdated assumptions about in-house pro bono. Skeptics will be disappointed to learn that interest and engagement in in-house pro bono continues to thrive and evolve. “Developments in In-House Pro Bono – Perspectives from Chief Legal Officers” (Thursday, March 24) will offer an overview of the state of in-house pro bono and will address the growth of pro bono within legal departments and what these developments mean for pro bono supporters at law firms, legal departments, and public interest organizations.

“In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.”

New to law firm pro bono? Don’t feel overwhelmed or in a dark place. You are not alone. Come early for “a little more knowledge.” “Law Firm Pro Bono 101” (Wednesday, March 23) is a pre-Conference bonus session designed for leaders at law firms that have recently created or restructured a formal pro bono program and for managing partners, pro bono committee chairs, pro bono partners, counsel, directors, managers, and coordinators who are new to their positions. This program offers a comprehensive, participatory crash course on the basics of structuring, implementing, and administering successful law firm pro bono programs. Law Firm Pro Bono Project staff members will introduce you to the resources and support available from the Project all year round. Pre-registration is required for this program. Space is limited and available on a first-come/first-served basis, so register today.

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If you have questions about the Conference or need assistance with registration, please email us or call 202.973.8720.

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January 20, 2016

2016 PBI Annual Conference: In-House Pro Bono: Top Ten Basics

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The PBEye invites in-house counsel and staff to join CPBO March 23-25 at the 2016 PBI Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. The Conference gives pro bono leaders from legal departments, law firms, and public interest organizations from around the world an opportunity to network and discuss ways to improve access to justice through pro bono.

For new leaders of existing programs or leaders of new programs, programming kicks off on the morning of March 23 with a revamped getting started session:

In-House Pro Bono: Top Ten Basics8:30 – 10:15 am
This session is designed for pro bono leaders of legal departments that are in the process of creating or re-launching a pro bono program and new pro bono leaders of existing programs. Experienced legal department pro bono leaders will discuss the top 10 things you need to know about in-house pro bono, from insurance to selecting projects to leadership structure. Pre-registration is required.

Please keep in mind that pre-registration is required for this small workshop as space is limited and only available to those who are new pro bono leaders or leaders of new pro bono programs on a first-come, first-served basis, so register early!

Those who attend this session will join other in-house and law firm attendees at Regional Joint Networking Exchanges (10:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.) and Networking Lunch (11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.).  The In-House Track will resume at 1:15 p.m. with in-house specific sessions and networking opportunities.

If you haven’t already, be sure to register for the Conference. To learn more about other sessions, please view the in-house agenda. If you have questions, please send us an e-mail.

January 14, 2016

May the Pro Bono Force Be With You (Part One)

StarwardsMillions of people around the world – including us – were swept up in the excitement surrounding the much-anticipated release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The new blockbuster has gotten us thinking about how Yoda’s classic insights and wisdom are universal and can be readily applied to law firm pro bono. We’ve come up with a few pieces of his advice that apply today just as well as they did a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away:

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

Yoda’s most memorable quote is particularly apt for January. With the new year comes a new opportunity to improve your firm’s pro bono performance. Set meaningful pro bono aspirations for 2016 and don’t just “try;” focus and fully commit to your goals. Whether that means launching new pro bono initiatives with adequate support and resources, creating innovative projects to serve underrepresented clients with unmet legal needs, or setting new, ambitious participation targets, there is always room to do more to promote access to justice in our communities. This year, let us commit to doing more pro bono, to doing better pro bono, and to recruiting others into the fold.

“Named must your fear be before banish it you can.”

What keeps some law firm lawyers on the sideline and inhibits them from getting involved? Fear of the unknown. Fear of failure. We are asking them to step outside their comfort zones and often work on poverty law matters outside of their areas of commercial expertise. Apprehension is understandable. Let’s acknowledge this phenomenon, “name” it, and then work to remedy it. There are many proven strategies and tactics that can be employed to both ensure competent representation in compliance with our ethical obligations and sensitively and effectively banish the fear of pro bono, including strategic project selection, meaningful and convenient training programs, mentoring, and team staffing of projects.

“If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will.”

We encourage firms with 50 or more lawyers to choose the right “path” and join the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®. For firms that have not yet enrolled because of a concern that it’s simply too late or that you cannot meet the Challenge goals, we encourage you to sign on and use this tool to advance pro bono at your firm. There is no downside to becoming a Challenge Signatory, as we do not publish disaggregated statistics, nor do we in any way identify individual firms as having met or not met their Challenge goals. Firms are welcome to enroll in the Challenge at any point of the year, and are given a grace period before the reporting requirement kicks in. Now is the perfect time for firms to join our efforts to improve access to justice. Please contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson for more information on becoming a Signatory and a leader in law firm pro bono.

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Look out for more inspiration from Yoda next week!

January 12, 2016

Webinar Recap — Successful In-House Pro Bono Partnerships

partnerships2On December 17, PBI hosted the webinar “Successful In-House Pro Bono Partnerships,” which provided an in-depth look at the recipients of the 2015 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Awards:

The panel included representatives from the honored partner organizations, each of whom discussed the substance of their work and also provided insight into the development and maintenance of their partnerships.

Did you miss the program? Don’t worry, it’s available on demand! In-house participants should contact CPBO Project Assistant Josh Lefebvre for registration information. Law Firm Pro Bono Project Member Firms should contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson for the promotional code to register. CLE credit is available for this program in many states. Be sure to check back often for other online offerings and browse the other webinars available on-demand.

Participation in the webinar provides access to related materials as well, including CPBO’s new infographic highlighting in-house pro bono partnerships. This infographic gathers data from the annual CPBO Challenge® Report and biannual CPBO Benchmarking Report to present a list of common partnership models and data on how many legal departments partner with law firms, legal services organizations, each other, and others.

To find out more about the CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award or 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

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