The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
January 23, 2015

Upcoming Webinar: An Inside Look at In-House Pro Bono Partnerships

JoinPartnership us on February 3rd at 12:30 p.m. ET for “An Inside Look at In-House Pro Bono Partnerships,” a one-hour program hosted in conjunction with WestLegalEdcenter that will feature an in-depth look at the partnership between Global Legal, Compliance, Regulatory, and Government Affairs department (GLCR), and the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) to provide pro bono legal services to Afghan refugees whose lives are in danger due to their work with the U.S. government.

On November 6 at the PBI Annual Dinner in New York City, AIG and IRAP were presented with the 2014 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award for their pioneering, collaborative effort to serve the legal needs of refugees in the Middle East. The effectiveness of the partnership between AIG and IRAP has been proven repeatedly, from a client who successfully obtained a visa and began a new life in the U.S. to contributions to three major policy/legislative victories. The first victory in October 2013 was the extension of the Iraqi SIV program, followed by landmark legislation that made improvements to the SIV application process including giving SIV applicants access to counsel in overseas proceedings and the right to appeal SIV rejections, and finally the addition of 1,000 visas to the Afghan SIV program.

The following panelists will discuss the substance of their work as well as provide insight into the development and maintenance of their strong partnership:

  • Erica Blau, Associate Counsel, American International Group, Inc.
  • Ariele Cohen, Associate General Counsel, American International Group, Inc.
  • Kristen Gudewicz, Associate General Counsel, American International Group, Inc.
  • Becca Heller, Director and Co-founder, IRAP
  • Stephen Poellot, Legal Director, IRAP

CLE credit is available in many states. Interested in-house counsel should contact CPBO Project Assistant Josh Lefebvre for registration information or to submit questions in advance of the program. Registration is free for Law Firm Pro Bono Project Member Law Firms. Law firm participants should contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson for registration information.

Schedule conflict? Don’t worry – the program will also be available on-demand shortly after the original broadcast date.

** denotes Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

January 22, 2015

Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Reporting Is Now Open!

20th Anniversary logo (project colors)Reporting season for the 2014 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 the email. The deadline for reporting is February 27.

This year, we have issued a more streamlined survey with fewer questions; we are only requiring that Signatories provide information about their pro bono hours, pro bono hours provided to those of limited means, and attorney participation. We have also prepared a new, user-friendly, comprehensive FAQ to make responding easy and efficient.

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.

One hallmark of the Challenge is the inclusion of an accountability mechanism: an annual reporting requirement. Each year, Challenge Signatories must provide a confidential report to the Law Firm Pro Bono Project on their progress in meeting the Challenge. The individual law firm data is kept confidential, but each report 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.

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 time of the year, and enjoy 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, as 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the implementation of the Challenge. Please contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson for assistance with reporting or for more information on becoming a leader in law firm pro bono.

January 20, 2015

New Jersey, New Year, New In-House MJP Rule!

Effective January 1, the New Jerfireworkssey Supreme Court adopted Rule 1:27-2(g), which empowers non-locally licensed in-house counsel registered to work in-state for their employers to also provide pro bono services as volunteers with approved organizations. Previously, non-locally licensed lawyers in New Jersey could provide pro bono services under a practice rule that authorized all out-of-state lawyers to engage in pro bono. However, this rule required not only that the volunteer attorney work with an approved organization, but that the lead attorney of the organization file a letter with the New Jersey Supreme Court and that the volunteer be supervised by a member of the New Jersey bar. Now, more than 1,300 registered in-house counsel are specifically empowered to provide pro bono legal services more freely.

New Jersey joins nine other jurisdictions that have amended their practice rules in the past two and a half years to empower nearly 5,000 in-house counsel to engage in pro bono legal services.  We at The PBEye certainly hope this trend continues throughout 2015!

For more information about this issue, see CPBO’s webpage dedicated to Multi-Jurisdictional In-House Pro Bono. To join the effort to change the rules in other jurisdictions, contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon.

January 16, 2015

Farewell and Good Luck to Bob Dell!

Bob Dell and Esther Lardent at the 2012 PBI Annual Dinner.

Bob Dell with PBI President and CEO Esther Lardent at the 2012 PBI Annual Dinner where Latham & Watkins received PBI’s John H. Pickering Award

We at The PBEye bid farewell to longtime Chair and Managing Partner of Latham & Watkins*† Bob Dell who has retired from the firm. Bob led the firm for two decades before officially retiring December 31.

As a member of PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project Advisory Committee, Bob has been a great supporter of pro bono over the years and a dear friend to PBI. We wanted to share with you this touching video from Latham & Watkins that highlights Bob’s stellar career and includes comments from his colleagues on his commitment to pro bono.

We wish Bob well in his future endeavors!

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

January 16, 2015

2015 PBI Annual Conference: In-House Pro Bono: The Basics

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The PBEye invites in-house counsel and staff to join CPBO March 4-6 at the 2015 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 in-house counsel and other legal department staff, programming kicks off on the morning of March 4 with an in-house specific session designed for those starting or reviving a pro bono program:

In-House Pro Bono: The Basics8:30 – 10:15 am
This session is designed for legal departments that are in the process of creating or re-launching a department-wide pro bono program. Experienced legal department pro bono leaders will offer a brief, but comprehensive, workshop on the basics of designing, guiding, implementing, and administering a successful in-house pro bono program.

Please keep in mind that pre-registration is required for this small workshop as space is limited and only available on a first-come, first-served basis, so register early!

This session kicks off a day of in-house specific programming.  Other sessions for the day include topics on growing your in-house pro bono program and how legal departments can influence pro bono developments outside their own company environment. Over the remaining two days of the Conference, in-house attendees will be able to attend a variety of sessions with law firm, in-house, and public interest representatives.
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 15, 2015

Share Your Pro Bono Innovation

We’re gearing up for the 2015 PBI Annual Conference, which will be held on March 4-6 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. One of the perennial highlights of the Conference are the “Marketplace of Ideas” sessions, fast-paced opportunities for presenters to share cutting-edge pro bono projects and for attendees to learn about new opportunities, offerings, infrastructure, and other replicable pro bono developments. Presenters identify real-world legal needs and explain how their projects are successfully addressing them.

Click here to read a summary of the 2014 Marketplace of Ideas presentations, and check out our webinar reprising the 2014 Marketplace session about transactional pro bono.

We invite those wishing to serve as a presenter at a Marketplace of Ideas session 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.

We look forward to learning more and sharing new ideas and projects at the 2015 PBI Annual Conference! For assistance with Conference registration, please email us or call 202.973.8720.2015AC-Header-Web

January 9, 2015

Video: WDPB – Regina Hopkins, DC Bar

Are you looking for ways to give back to your community? Pro bono is a great start. This week, we hear from Regina Hopkins, assistant director for community economic development, DC Bar, as she explains why pro bono plays an important role in enhancing our communities.

January 8, 2015

Cold Outside? Heat Up with Pro Bono

probono-hotlist-bugEarlier this week, The National Law Journal 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 their inspiring and exceptional pro bono initiatives: Arnold & Porter*† (litigating two significant voter identification cases); Chadbourne & Parke*† (providing legal help to immigrant youth fleeing Central America and Mexico); Crowell & Moring* (assisting those affected by unfair sentencing laws in clemency cases); Farella Braun + Martel* (defending a gun safety ordinance in state and federal district court); Jenner & Block*† (advising a nonprofit youth village in Rwanda on a complex lease deal for a solar project); Kirkland & Ellis*† (working with Lambda Legal to secure marriage equality in Illinois); Morrison & Foerster*† (waging a multi-court battle against a restrictive Texas abortion law); Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe*† (researching and identifying countries that would be best-suited for the International Bar Association’s anti-trafficking training programs); Reed Smith*† (creating a mobile legal clinic to help rape survivors in Haiti); and Sidley Austin*† (overturning an Illinois eavesdropping law that criminalized the act of recording public officials, including police officers, without their consent).

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 notable and 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 2015 PBI Annual Conference, which will be held March 4-6 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. Please join us at the Conference to continue the celebration and dialogue about innovative pro bono endeavors.

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

† denotes a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project

December 23, 2014

Great Causes, Great Work

We at The PBEye wanted to share this inspiring video from our friends at Morrison & Foerster*†.  Highlighting the firm’s 85,000+ hours of pro bono in 2013, the video explores the current crisis in access to justice and the important role that pro bono plays in helping close the justice gap. Watch above as the attorneys featured in the video explain what it means to be “MoFo.”

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

December 23, 2014

‘Tis the Season…for Challenge Reporting!

20th Anniversary logo (project colors)Reporting season for the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® will open in January, and Challenge Signatories should be on the lookout for an email with your unique survey link. The deadline for reporting data for calendar year 2014 is February 27.

Each year, Challenge Signatories provide a brief, confidential report to the Law Firm Project on their progress in meeting the Challenge. The individual firm data is kept confidential, but each report provides the basis for critically important aggregate statistics about trends in law firm pro bono.

Among other things, Challenge Signatories aspire 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 of limited means.” This aspect of the Challenge is particularly compelling at a time when poverty in the U.S. remains high and resources for legal aid assistance have been diminished. However, the information we’ve received in recent years on pro bono work for low-income individuals has been incomplete and potentially unrepresentative of the overall work that firms are doing.

We encourage firms to strengthen their data collection efforts and ensure that they are accurately and comprehensively tracking and reporting all of their pro bono efforts, including service to people of limited means and the organizations that serve them. To read more about why this data is so critical, check out the December edition of The Pro Bono Wire.

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. Now is the perfect time for firms to join our efforts to improve access to justice, as 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the implementation of the Challenge. Please contact Law Firm Project Assistant Eva Richardson for more information on becoming a Signatory and a leader in law firm pro bono.

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