The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
August 16, 2011

Legal Departments Memorialize Pro Bono Achievements

Increasingly, legal departments are recognizing the pro bono efforts of their lawyers and staff by publishing pro bono annual reports, which may be distributed both internally and externally.  The reports celebrate pro bono achievements and provide a recap of pro bono in the past year.  Both UnitedHealth Group** and Verizon Communications** recently shared with The PBEye a copy of their respective 2010 pro bono annual reports, and we are delighted to read about the legal departments’ many pro bono successes.

Elements common to both publications include:

  • A message from the head(s) of the legal department and/or company discussing the ways in which pro bono positively impacts the community, the company, and the individual lawyer;
  • Photographs that capture volunteers in action;
  • An overview of the department’s pro bono program, including projects undertaken in 2010; and
  • Recognition of especially unique and impactful individual pro bono initiatives by members of the legal department.

Highlights from UnitedHealth’s pro bono annual report include:

  • Praise from UnitedHealth’s CEO about the skills-based training pro bono volunteers have received;
  • A list of awards and honors received by members of the legal department and the legal department at large; and
  • A list of members of the legal department who participated in the pro bono program in 2010.

Verizon’s pro bono yearbook features a special section on the recent rule change in Virginia, where Verizon has a significant number of lawyers.  Verizon General Counsel Randal Milch and his team were instrumental in the Virginia Supreme Court’s decision to remove restrictions that previously limited certified in-house counsel’s ability to provide pro bono work to deserving and needy clients in Virginia.

Annual reports can be effective tools to spread the word within a legal department about opportunities, reiterate management’s support for pro bono efforts, and recognize those who manage the program, as well as its participants.  It is good for morale, which is good for business.  In addition, by distributing them outside of the legal department, annual reports serve to highlight the good work of the company’s lawyers and legal staff to the rest of the company, its affiliates and the public. 

To learn more about how to publicize your legal department’s pro bono efforts, contact Eve Runyon, director of CPBO.  How does your department get out the word—both internally and externally—about your pro bono achievements?

**denotes Signatory to the Corporate Pro Bono ChallengeSM