In the Windy City, Lawyers Give Back
Chicago in-house attorneys embodied the city’s old motto “I Will” on June 7, when they turned out in force to provide pro bono legal services to local nonprofit organizations during a Clinic in a BoxSM program, co-hosted by Corporate Pro Bono, United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, Navistar, and the Chicago Association of Corporate Counsel Chapter (ACC Chicago). 60 members of ACC Chicago provided legal assistance to 14 local nonprofit organizations. These organizations provide a broad range of services and serve a population of more than 42,800 low-income and under-served Chicagoans.
CPBO’s off-the-shelf Clinic in a BoxSM model provides in-house attorneys the opportunity to meet with local nonprofits or small businesses to provide a free legal assessment of the organization. The first portion of the clinic offers in-house lawyers a refresher course in laws affecting nonprofits and small businesses. The training was developed by CPBO and adapted by attorneys at DLA Piper LLP (US)* to reflect Illinois law. In addition to adapting the materials, DLA Piper hosted the clinic in its Chicago office and provided the CLE training in preparation for meeting with clients. After the training, the in-house attorneys meet in teams with their nonprofit clients to address legal issues previously identified and conduct a legal audit. Many of the volunteers will continue to provide counsel to the nonprofit clients to address issues that were identified but could not be resolved at the clinic.
As part of the follow-up process for each clinic, CPBO solicits feedback from the volunteers and clients. Volunteers consistently find the experience to be rewarding and a useful exercise for gaining exposure to different types of law. One volunteer’s comment sums up the clinic experience volunteers often report, writing “It was a great opportunity to give back and learn.” Clients appreciate the opportunity to receive legal advice they would otherwise be unable to afford. One client remarked, “Amazing! Very insightful and gave me a great deal of outlook and information to consider going forward. I was very delighted with the lawyers I met . . .” With such positive feedback from both lawyers and clients, CPBO is looking forward to future clinics in Chicago!
*denotes a Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®