The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
July 2, 2015

2014 Challenge Report Now Available

snapshotPBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project recently released its annual Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Report. One hundred thirty-three Challenge Signatories reported performing more than 4.2 million hours of pro bono service in 2014. A few additional highlights include:

  • Participation
    The percentage of partners participating in pro bono increased to 65 percent from 63 percent in 2013, while the percentage of associates participating in pro bono essentially held steady at 81 percent. The cumulative participation rate increased slightly, with 73 percent of attorneys participating in pro bono in 2014.
  • Pro Bono for Those of Limited Means
    After making a concerted effort over the past year to improve reporting of the hours and percentage of total pro bono time committed to persons of limited means and the organizations that serve them, 121 Signatories reported this data in 2014, up significantly from 80 firms in 2013. The total number of these hours increased from 2.0 million hours in 2013 to 2.9 million hours in 2014. Approximately 69 percent of all tracked or estimated pro bono time was devoted to those of limited means and the organizations serving them in 2014. Collectively, Signatories are meeting their Challenge commitment to devote a “majority” of their pro bono time to people of limited means.

Check out the complete Challenge Report, including analysis of the data, detailed graphs, and more!

We encourage firms to use their status as Signatories as a rallying cry and points of pride and distinction. Publicize your participation and your pledge of pro bono service inside and outside the firm, to your clients, and to the public interest groups with whom you work. Making a public commitment to the Challenge heightens awareness of pro bono at the firm, increases attorney participation, engages firm leadership, and sets clear and shared goals for success.

For firms that have not yet joined because of a concern that they cannot meet the Challenge goals, we encourage you to enroll and use this proven tool to advance pro bono at your firm. There is no downside as we do not publish disaggregated statistics, nor do we in any way identify individual firms as having met or not met their Challenge goal. Rather, we work closely with Challenge Signatories to provide individual consultative services and support to help them improve their pro bono performance. If your firm of 50 or more lawyers would like to join the Challenge, please contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson.

We’re excited to welcome two new Challenge Signatories: BuckleySandler*† and Duane Morris*†. Now is the perfect time for your firm to follow their lead and join our efforts to improve access to justice, as this year marks the 20th anniversary of the implementation of the Challenge.

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

July 2, 2015

Video: WDPB – Michael Howson, AOL Inc.

Michael Howson, assistant general counsel, AOL Inc.**, explains how pro bono work creates a sense of  balance between his day-to-day corporate responsibilities and his desire to make an immediate impact in his community.

** denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

June 25, 2015

Marketplace of Pro Bono Ideas: Part 2

The PBEye recently reportedMarketplace of Pro Bono Ideas--March 15 on some of the creative and replicable projects featured during the two Marketplace of Ideas sessions at the 2015 PBI Annual Conference. Here are a few more of the projects highlighted during these exciting sessions:

Jobseeker Legal Clinic
Heather Hodges discussed the Neighborhood Legal Services Program’s (NLSP) innovative Jobseeker Legal Clinic, which helps low-income individuals seeking employment overcome legal obstacles that may be barriers to successful job searches. Recognizing the need to “go where the clients are” and that public libraries are critical access points, NLSP formed a partnership with the District of Columbia Public Library to hold clinics and informational presentations at library branches around the city.

Clinic attendees meet one-on-one with attorneys at the library to address legal barriers to employment, such as criminal record sealing, credit reports, background checks, identity theft, homelessness, obtaining driving and professional licenses, and resolving back child support arrearages. Pro bono lawyers are also often able to help with issues related to workplace discrimination, recovering unpaid wages, tips, and overtime, and employment-related tax problems. The Jobseeker Legal Clinic is an effective model for addressing structural unemployment and related problems in our communities.

International Bar Association’s Anti-Trafficking Initiative
Rene Kathawala discussed Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe’s*† work with the International Bar Association’s Anti-Trafficking Initiative to prioritize markets for anti-trafficking training programs in 2015. The firm ultimately recommended six countries from among the 163 that signed the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking Persons, Especially Women and Children (commonly known as the Palermo Protocol) that would be ideal for anti-trafficking training programs for police officers, judges, and prosecutors.

The Orrick team did extensive research, vetting countries to assess their commitment to and compliance with the Palermo Protocol by prosecuting traffickers within the past five years and which had not been involved in significant training programs to minimize duplication of efforts, eventually narrowing the list down to, as requested, six countries – Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Hungary, Indonesia, Madagascar, and Niger. The team was comprised of 34 attorneys in 12 offices across the U.S., Asia, and Europe and is a prime example of “pro bono glue,” that is, how large-scale pro bono projects can be used to integrate the offices of a global law firm.

Juvenile Justice
Natalie Kraner described Lowenstein Sandler’s*† new pro bono initiative to reform the New Jersey juvenile justice system. The firm helped form a juvenile justice working group, bringing together prominent academics, nonprofits, and the Office of the Public Defender. The coalition has engaged in a number of advocacy and reform efforts.

Lowenstein Sandler attorneys and summer associates conducted a nationwide survey on the use of solitary confinement in juvenile facilities. Relying on this research, the coalition is seeking through executive and legislative advocacy to eliminate or reduce the use of punitive solitary confinement. The group has also engaged in impact litigation challenging transfers from juvenile custody to adult prisons. Additionally, it regularly hosts roundtable discussions with various stakeholders − including police, corrections officers, prosecutors, public defenders, parents of children in the justice system, young adults who were in the system, legislators, and judges − to discuss and initiate reforms.

Through this work, the coalition has attracted the attention of national foundations that will help sponsor a multi-year campaign with the twin goals of creating viable alternatives to incarceration and more humane treatment for juveniles in state custody.


Check out our full recap of the 2015 Marketplace of Ideas sessions in this month’s edition of The Pro Bono Wire. We look forward to learning more and sharing other replicable ideas and projects at the 2016 PBI Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 23-25. We invite those wishing to serve as a presenter to submit a brief proposal describing your initiative so that we can ensure adequate time and capacity for all presentations. Please send submissions to Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson. (Due to time limitations, we may not be able to accept all proposals this year.)

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

June 23, 2015

Benchmarking In-House Pro Bono: Liability Insurance

What are some of the BM Trendsways that your legal department can obtain professional liability insurance for pro bono engagement? Which sources of coverage are most popular? The most recent CPBO Benchmarking Report answers these questions and more!

There is a variety of malpractice insurance coverage options available for in-house counsel and legal departments engaging in pro bono, including adding an endorsement to an existing policy or purchasing a standalone policy, and many departments access a combination of options to ensure coverage.

Insurance Blog Quote - finalAccording to the 2014 Benchmarking Report, the majority of responding legal departments elect to partner with a legal services provider that supplies insurance coverage for volunteers. Some of these departments may also self-insure, issuing a letter or statement to volunteers that their company will cover the risk, while others opt to secure a pro bono policy through a traditional broker or insurance company or through the National Legal Aid Defender Association.

Insurance graph blog

While the percentage of departments relying on coverage from their legal services partners remains high, CPBO notes a 16 percent decrease from 2012 to 2014.  This highlights a possible trend in in-house pro bono where legal departments seek greater independence and flexibility with regard to the source of their pro bono matters as well as demonstrate a greater understanding of the different insurance option available, which may be obtained at low to no cost.

For more information on liability insurance for in-house pro bono, including a summary of the benefits and drawbacks of the various options available to in-house counsel, see Professional Liability Insurance for In-House Pro Bono. To access the on-demand webinar, “In-House Pro Bono: Professional Liability”, featuring insight from experts in the field as well as in-house pro bono leaders about coverage options, contact CPBO.

If you would like to access a copy of the 2014 CPBO Benchmarking Report or are interested in learning more about in-house pro bono, please contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon.

June 18, 2015

Upcoming Webinar: Criminal Justice

computerHave you been following the news and wondering how you could get involved and make a difference? Join us on June 25 for “Pro Bono in Practice: Criminal Justice.” This program, hosted in conjunction with West LegalEdcenter, is part of our “Best of the 2015 PBI Annual Conference” series of webinars, which reprise and supplement select sessions from the Conference.

The following expert panelists will address the status of available pro bono opportunities, ranging from litigation to policy work; emerging legal issues; how to get started; and opportunities for collaboration:

Lisa Borden, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz*†
Natalie Kraner, Lowenstein Sandler*†
Sarah Nolan, Brooklyn Defender Services
Hallie Ryan, The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Catherine Weiss, Lowenstein Sandler*†

Learn about pressing criminal justice-related issues such as criminal justice debt, clemency, individual representation, and juvenile justice, and how pro bono volunteers can get involved and make a difference.

CLE credit is available in many states. Registration is free for Law Firm Pro Bono Project Member 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.

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

June 17, 2015

Liberia, the Magna Carta, and the Rule of Law

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On June 15, thousands of people from around the world descended on a field in Runnymede in the United Kingdom to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta. Although the Magna Carta was not the first time a monarch agreed to respect the rights and liberties of others, it went on to become an icon for the revolutionary concepts of due process and the rule of law. As British Prime Minister David Cameron noted at the commemoration, “Think of South Africa – of that courtroom in Rivonia. As Nelson Mandela stood in the dock, looking at a lifetime in prison, it was Magna Carta that he cited.”

How can pro bono attorneys contribute to the vision being discussed and celebrated this week? One answer is rule of law themed pro bono projects, particularly in post-conflict countries. A noteworthy example is a recently completed project in Liberia, in which Thomson Reuters Corporation** teamed up with Linklaters*†‡ and the nonprofit organization Lawyers Without Borders (LWOB).

As the country struggled to recover from the political upheaval and civil wars that occurred under former president Charles Taylor, Liberia’s legal system was additionally challenged by a lack of access to case law precedent in a readily usable format. To remedy this, LWOB secured seed project underwriting from the World Bank, publishing support from Thomson Reuters, and volunteer lawyers from Linklaters to produce a digest of case summaries and key-word index of over 3,700 Liberian cases beginning in the 1860s. This five-year project involved a cross-disciplinary team of over 200 Linklaters lawyers, trainees, and summer associates, from offices in New York, London, Dubai, Hong Kong, Madrid, Milan, Moscow, and Paris. Thomson Reuters Corporation helped organize the case digest structure and printed hard copies of the digest and index; these have now been provided to every judge in Liberia. Making such information readily available in a meaningful way should help improve the efficacy and consistency of legal governance in Liberia, although electricity and internet connectivity issues have delayed the longer-term goal of making the digest and index available online.

The work of the Magna Carta is not yet done. But pro bono attorneys and other legal professionals are working to realize its vision in Liberia and elsewhere: a world governed by the rule of law. We will stay tuned!

* 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
New York office only participating in Challenge

June 16, 2015

CPBO at the ACC Annual Meeting in Beantown

ACC AM 2015
The PBEye is pleased to announce that the CPBO team will be traveling to Boston for the 2015 ACC Annual Meeting. The meeting, held October 18 – 21, will feature in-house pro bono at the following events:

Clinic in a Box® Program Training Sunday, October 18
This training session is for ACC Chapters and legal departmentsinterested in co-hosting a Clinic in a Box® program. Developed by CPBO, these half-day legal audit clinics provide in-house counsel the opportunity to advise nonprofit organizations or small businesses while earning CLE credit. To obtain a limited support license, co-hosts must first either have hosted a clinic in the past or attend this training, during which CPBO will provide detailed instruction on hosting these events.  (Note that registration is required and there is a separate fee to participate in this program.)

Clinic in a Box® Program Monday, October 19
Co-hosted at the Annual Meeting by CPBO, ACC Northeast, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky, and Popeo*†, and The Lawyers Clearinghouse, CPBO’s Clinic in a Box® program offers in-house counsel the opportunity to earn CLE credit and provide legal assistance to representatives of Boston area nonprofits. (Note that pre-registration is required to participate.)

Pro Bono Breakfast Tuesday, October 20
At this breakfast, attendees will meet with CPBO and other in-house counsel interested in pro bono and share information about pro bono trends and best practices in in-house pro bono. Please contact CPBO Project Assistant Josh Lefebvre in advance if you plan to attend the breakfast.

Session: The Chief Legal Officer’s View of In-house Pro Bono Tuesday, October 20
In-house pro bono continues to thrive, despite uncertainties in the market, a stressful business climate, and a continuing push to control costs and do more with less. A panel of leading in-house counsel will give an overview of in-house pro bono, discuss the role of CLOs and other leaders in supporting such efforts and address the growth and importance of in-house pro bono within legal departments, companies, and the communities where they work.

Meet with CPBO Sunday, October 18 – Wednesday, October 21
CPBO always looks forward to meeting with attendees when they have free time between programs. If you are interested in sitting down with CPBO for a few minutes to discuss options and initiatives for yourself, your legal department, or your chapter, please contact CPBO to set up a time that is convenient for you. Or, stop by the CPBO booth in the exhibit hall to see new resources and chat with the CPBO team.

To find out more about the events listed above, please contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon, and for the complete ACC Annual Meeting schedule, click here. 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

June 11, 2015

Pro Bono Matchmaking

tldefWe can’t believe it’s already been three months since pro bono leaders from law firms, legal departments, and public interest organizations from around the world gathered in Washington, D.C. for the 2015 PBI Annual Conference to share ideas on how to enhance the performance, efficiency, and effectiveness of their pro bono efforts. Each year, law firm and in-house attendees make new connections and forge fruitful relationships with public interest organizations during the Pro Bono Expo Lunch and other networking opportunities throughout the Conference.

For example, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) has attended the Conference for the past two years and has used the event as an opportunity to expand the scope of its Name Change Project.

We’ve previously reported on this Project’s inspiring work. We recently spoke with Michael Silverman, TLDEF’s executive director, about the new pro bono connections he’s made at the Conference and how they’ve helped expand TLDEF’s reach:

The PBEye: Can you tell me about how you started working with Dykema Gossett*† in Michigan?

M.S.: Two years ago I met Heidi Naasko when we spoke on a panel together. I stayed in touch with Heidi and reached out to some of my contacts in the transgender and larger LGBT community in Michigan about the need for legal assistance with name changes. Jointly, we decided that we were going to take a shot at launching a Name Change Project in Michigan. Dykema lawyers took our preexisting handbook for New York and translated it into Michigan practice. Once we got a few community members through the process, we opened it up to more people and now the Project is fully functioning.

The PBEye: What are your future plans in Michigan?

M.S.: The next step is probably going to be in the fall. We plan to have a Detroit area training for attorneys, not just from Dykema, but from the other large law firms in the area interested in participating in the Project. We are clearly sensing a need in the community.

The PBEye: We’ve also heard that you are working with Alston & Bird*†. Can you discuss how that developed?

M.S.: I had a similar experience at the Conference this year with Cheryl Naja from Alston & Bird in Atlanta. Cheryl and I spoke on a panel together about storytelling and it’s just a testament to what a great networking opportunity the Conference is. We stayed in touch after the Conference and I asked if she thought anybody at the firm would be interested in helping us serve the transgender community in Atlanta. Cheryl was absolutely gung-ho about it and immediately pulled in key players from her firm who were similarly enthusiastic. We had our first meeting a couple of weeks ago and have already begun serving clients in Atlanta. We’ll be spreading the word about the Project in the community and training more lawyers soon. We already have enough interest from people to sense that this is moving forward with real momentum.

Michael’s experience at the Conference is a prime example of how the event can serve as the source of long-term relationships, which lead to new opportunities for meaningful and innovative pro bono work. We are looking forward to what the 2016 PBI Annual Conference, which will be held in Washington, D.C., on March 23-25, has in store.

If your firm or legal department is interested in getting involved with the Name Change Project, contact TLDEF. To learn more about the struggle for transgender rights, check out “The Quest for Transgender Equality,” a recent New York Times editorial series that featured TLDEF’s work.

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

This interview has been condensed and edited for space.

June 9, 2015

In-House Pro Bono in the News… Again!

Two more legal teams recently caught the attention of The PBEye when The National Law Journal (NLJ) released its Chicago Legal Departments of the Year Awards: Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM), which was named as department of year, and McDonald’s Corporation**, recipient of top honors for pro bono.

Achicago adm blog imagemong the many reasons ADM was selected, NLJ noted the department’s up-and-coming pro bono program. When ADM General Counsel Cameron Findlay joined the company in mid-2013, the department had no pro bono program to speak of.  Since then, Findlay has prioritized pro bono and called upon members of ADM’s newly formed law firm alliance to partner on pro bono and tap into existing opportunities.  His dedication comes as no surprise, as Findlay was an Equal Justice Works’ 2013 Scales of Justice Honoree, awarded for his pro bono efforts, including establishing a successful pro bono program at his previous company, Medtronic, Inc.** The PBEye looks forward to reporting on ADM’s future efforts!

Over the past 15 years, McDonald’s legal department has transformed itself from a department with no pro bono program to one recognized as Chicago’s best.  The combination of General Counsel Gloria Santona’s enthusiastic support and Senior Counsel Pauline Levy’s passion for pro bono has resulted in the development of a formal pro bono program and a strong pro bono culture. In 2014, McDonald’s legal team exceeded the CPBO Challenge® goal of 50 percent participation in pro bono. McDonald’s pro bono efforts include a wide variety of projects, allowing the employees to pursue their interests in a variety of forums. Recently, McDonald’s partnered with the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago to create the SNAP Pro Bono Project, in which volunteers assist clients applying for food stamps.

Congratulations to ADM and McDonald’s and kudos to NLJ for recognizing the importance of pro bono and including it among the top criteria for assessing legal departments!  To read about more legal departments that have been recognized for their pro bono efforts, see Pro Bono is Key in the “Best of 2015” and Evaluating Legal Departments with Pro Bono in Mind. For more information on in-house pro bono, please contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon.

** Denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

Hat tip to PBI intern Adam Baginski for his contribution to this blog.

June 4, 2015

Pro Bono is Key in the “Best of 2015”

The PBEye enthusiastically Best Legal Departments Trophysupports the ever increasing pro bono efforts of in-house legal teams. It should come as no surprise then, that when we spot in-house pro bono news in the headlines, we get a bit excited. Recently, Corporate Counsel announced the 2015 winners of its annual Best Legal Departments awards.  Of the four winners, two Corporate Pro Bono Challenge®  signatories were included: Intel Corporation** and Office Depot, Inc.** Among what differentiated Intel and Office Depot and led to their selection is their pro bono work. We applaud their efforts and congratulate them on their recognition.

Intel has devoted itself to pro bono work above and beyond for nearly a decade. Beginning in 2006, its award-winning pro bono program has encouraged members of the legal department to provide assistance to pro bono clients in issues ranging from domestic violence and housing, to healthcare and education, engaging with more than 1,000 clients in the U.S. alone since the program began. In addition, Intel played an integral role in the formation and staffing of the California Inventors Assistance Program, where attorneys assist low-income inventors in obtaining patents. Most recently, the department has begun leveraging its overseas attorneys by engaging in global pro bono in Africa, Europe, and Asia, winning two awards for their work.

Office Depot also has a strong pro bono program, remaining committed to providing legal services through a number of transitions, including a merger with OfficeMax. For example, lawyers in Office Depot’s Florida headquarters frequently take on cases or participate in clinics in partnership with local legal aid organizations. Their Idaho colleagues volunteer as court-appointed special advocates representing neglected and abused children. Members of the legal department have also participated in programs such as “Dial-A-Lawyer” in which anonymous callers obtain answers to their personal legal questions, covering topics such as contracts, employment, foreclosures, and more.

Congratulations to Intel, Office Depot, and all the winners of the Corporate Counsel best legal departments of 2015. Keep up the hard work and your commitments to pro bono. For more information about in-house pro bono, please contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon.

** Denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

Hat tip to PBI intern Adam Baginski for his contribution to this blog.

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