The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It

December 2011

December 23, 2011

. . . And a Happy New Year!

The PBEye is looking ahead to the New Year and all the diets, resolutions, and beginnings that come along with it.  We’re taking the next week off to celebrate the holidays, but we’ll be back and ready to bring you pro bono as we see it on January 3.  In the meantime, we hope you and yours enjoy a happy and healthy holiday and a bright and exciting New Year!

December 23, 2011

Pro Bono and Your Professional Profile

No doubt many avid readers of The PBEye are part of LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network with more than 135 million members, connecting you to contacts and helping you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities.  A relatively new feature allows volunteer junkies to show off their dedication and connect with others interested in the same type of work.  LinkedIn recently added the “Volunteer Experiences & Causes” field so that members can highlight relevant volunteer experience.  Pro bono is “real work” and a “key piece of your professional identity” that should be part of your professional profile.

If you have some end-of-the-year down time, why not spend some of it updating your LinkedIn profile with your pro bono experiences and pro bono organizations that you support to shine attention and add visibility, maximize the experience, and make connections with other pro bono aficionados.

Just follow these easy steps to add the “Volunteer Experience & Causes” field to your LinkedIn Profile:

    1. After logging in, click “Profile” at the top of LinkedIn
    2. Click the “Add Sections” hyperlink
    3. Select “Volunteer Experiences & Causes”
    4. Click the “Add to Profile” button and then fill out the applicable fields

You can also add PBI under “Organizations I Support” which will then become a hotlink over to our Pro Bono Institute LinkedIn page.

And, be sure to look for more information about a cutting-edge session on using social media to enhance pro bono that will be featured at our must-attend 2012 Annual Conference.

December 22, 2011

Guest Blog: BNY Mellon’s Pro Bono Program

The Bank of New York Mellon recently launched its pro bono program.  Learn more about it below.

Why Global Pro Bono at BNY Mellon?
When Jane Sherburne, BNY Mellon’s general counsel, asked me to chair a new Global Pro Bono Program 10 months ago, I didn’t hesitate.  Jane has been a significant supporter of pro bono service, noting that it reflects BNY Mellon’s commitment to making our communities better places to live and work, and is fundamental to our team-oriented business culture and core values: trust, teamwork, client focus and outperformance.

For perspective, in 2010, BNY Mellon and its employees around the globe donated nearly $35 million to causes they care about most, plus another 43,000 hours of volunteer service.  Adding professional legal services to the mix of our powerful and uplifting community commitment was simply irresistible.  The Global Pro Bono Program directly supports our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), philanthropy and employee engagement and volunteering initiatives.

Fostering Camaraderie
I asked Jane about her personal philosophy and while most pro bono players may start small, she felt that as a global organization, we couldn’t just target one place, country, or theme.  Jane also recognized the esprit de corps and camaraderie that would result from the opportunity to bring our legal teams together in this manner.

“Pro bono opens up a world of opportunity for our people to get involved in new challenges, helps our lawyers fulfill their professional obligations, and affects the lives of people in meaningful and lasting ways,” Jane said. 

With her full support, we launched BNY Mellon’s Global Pro Bono Program this month in six cities and three countries: New York, Jersey City, Pittsburgh, Boston, London, and Hong Kong.

The BNY Mellon Pro Bono Team

Careful Project Structuring, Online Resources Building Blocks for Team Success
Currently, we have 19 attorneys and non-attorneys on the pro bono team.  With sage counsel from Corporate Pro Bono and Eve Runyon,  we have plunged simultaneously into several tracks, establishing  subcommittees, themes and projects; interviewing and selecting legal service organizations and law firm partnerships; creating timelines, project notification processes and tracking mechanisms; and researching licensing and insurance.  Among the most important shared resources and tools for this dynamic team is a dedicated intranet microsite.  Our pro bono intranet site and Wiki pages contain policies, procedures, FAQs, matter opening and closing forms, instruction pages and chat pages.  Everything is online and in one easily accessible spot.  We’ve established regional coordinators and national theme coordinators who will also notify our attorneys and non attorneys of upcoming projects.   

Expanding BNY Mellon’s Volunteering Footprint, Earning a Charitable Gift Match
By adopting BNY Mellon’s CSR and philanthropy theme, “Community Partnership,” we’re expanding our company’s volunteering footprint, while also receiving “dollars for do-ers” or matching donations wherever possible.  Our efforts are focused on something we call “Powering Potential.”  These projects address urgent basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and disaster relief.  A second area of support within the Powering Potential framework addresses workforce development to help troubled youths, veterans, women, minorities and small businesses. 

Pro Bono Program Welcomes External Partners, Communities Benefit
We have gathered close to 12 different legal service organizations and law firm partners to join the initiative.  Together, we will work in clinics.  We’ll help disabled veterans and focus on financial literacy for low-income women and children.  We’re also looking at the pro bono support our volunteers can direct to microfinance, or to help low income families navigate through the school systems, and more.

Members of the community have already obtained free legal service following our first successful pilot clinic, held pre-launch.  And, we’re already approaching 30 pro bono volunteers!  This momentum proves that getting involved in Community Partnership is a great way of continuing to do what’s right.

Deborah H. Kaye is Managing Director and Senior Managing Counsel at The Bank of New York Mellon.  

December 21, 2011

VIDEO: The New Faces of Pro Bono

With the recent economic crises, many people have been impacted in a way they may never have expected.  For some insight on this The PBEye spoke to longtime PBI friend and Board Member Laurie Zelon, associate justice on the California Courts of Appeal, about the increasing trend of middle classes families that are finding themselves in need of legal services for the first time and aren’t aware that help exists for them.  Zelon explains that since needs have changed, the leadership of firms and courts need to cooperate to find ways to efficiently reach and assists those in dire straits.   She also speaks about the role that judges like herself can play to better facilitate pro bono services.

December 16, 2011

Minnesota Legal Departments Lead in Pro Bono

Four months since Corporate Pro Bono last visited Minnesota, CPBO was back to attend the Regional Convocation in Minneapolis and meet one-on-one with a number of the state’s leading companies, whose in-house attorneys dedicate their time and legal skills to their communities.  In particular, CPBO met with pro bono attorneys and staff from 3M Company**, Best Buy Co., Inc.**, Cargill, Incorporated, and Target Corporation, and gained further insight into each organization’s pro bono activities.

The first stop on the itinerary was lunch with Mike Skoglund at Cargill, where CPBO learned more about Cargill’s pro bono efforts, including a joint project with Faegre & Benson LLP* at the Hennepin County Housing Court Project, providing assistance to low-income tenants on matters such as evictions, lease issues, repair problems, and housing records expungement.

The next stop was BestBuy’s offices just outside of Minneapolis in Richfield, Minn.  There, CPBO met with Jill Barnett and Vanessa Denis and was treated to a tour of BestBuy’s headquarters before hearing from Jill and Vanessa about BestBuy’s work in the community.  BestBuy’s long term commitment to pro bono is continued by its new Executive Vice President and General Counsel Keith J. Nelsen.

The following day, it was on to 3M in St. Paul.  There, CPBO met with Senior Vice President, Legal Affairs and General Counsel Marschall I. Smith to discuss 3M’s pro bono efforts (efforts that go back 30 years).  The company is committed to offering projects that engage the entire legal team, including not only litigators, but those who work in transactions, intellectual property, and all of the other areas of specialty in its legal department.

The visit concluded back downtown at Target Plaza, where CPBO met with David March and Tracey Ruziacka to discuss a pilot project with LegalCorp that uses video conferencing to provide pro bono advice to small business owners throughout the state.

If you would like for CPBO to visit your city and meet with your legal department or ACC Chapter, please let us know.  CPBO is ready to assist with consulting services, whether your pro bono program is just getting started or is a more mature program that has been around for years.

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

December 15, 2011

Pro Bono Gift Guide

Happy Holidays to pro bono junkies everywhere!  Choosing the perfect gift is one of life’s perennial challenges and The PBEye is once again here to help.

Last year, we recommended The Power of Pro Bono, a gorgeous book that explores 40 pro bono design projects.  This year, we have a suggestion to appeal especially to pro bono supporters and their children—and to those who are still kids at heart: Mommy and Daddy Do It Pro Bono by our friend Aaron Hurst, founder of the Taproot Foundation and Kara Hurst, vice president of Business for Social Responsibility .  The book aims to inspire the next generation to give back to their communities and explores the importance of social responsibility.

What starts with an adorable girl asking, “What do you do, daddy?” leads to a description of impressive careers by inspiring parents.  Pages titled, “My mommy is a lawyer” blends the teachings of professional success with a commitment to service.  After describing a child’s thoughts on what a lawyer actually does, the next page follows with, “She also works pro bono for families to help them keep their homes when they have trouble paying rent.”

The dedication page speaks for itself:

For all the professionals out there—who want to be a role model for their children; who see their professional skills as tools for business and social change and who need a better answer when asked: “What are you doing to make the world a better place.”

This cute and accessible book highlights the season’s theme of “giving back” and the importance of instilling an enthusiasm for pro bono work in the generations to come.  The message resonates as an antidote to the consumerism that can overwhelm this time of the year.

If you know of any interesting pro bono-related gifts, let us know by leaving a comment below!

December 14, 2011

VIDEO: Strategic and Global Pro Bono

As we enter each new year, we really like to think about what our friends and supporters are working on so we can better serve them. The PBEye spoke to Madeleine Schachter, global director of corporate social responsibility for Baker & McKenzie LLP*, about what the firm is focusing on as pro bono continues to evolve.  Check out the video below to hear Schachter’s comments on the future of pro bono.

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


December 9, 2011

VIDEO: Thinking About the Future of Pro Bono

Pro bono is dynamic and should be treated as such. When The PBEye sat down with Fiona McLeay, executive director of the Public Interest Law Clearing House (PILCH), she talked to us about changes in approaches to pro bono as the field develops. She also spoke about developing ways to effectively monitor the long term impact of pro bono work within the community as it matures and becomes more sophisticated.  Watch the video below for her detailed take on these developing trends in pro bono.

McLeay’s words sound a bit like something we’ve heard before here and here.

December 8, 2011

Now Available: Best Practices for Pro Bono Committees

A well-functioning pro bono committee can solidify an institutional commitment to pro bono work and enhance a law firm’s pro bono performance.  Ultimately, for a committee to be successful, it is essential that members communicate and function harmoniously, and that there is meaningful participation from group members.

Through its research and consultative services, the Law Firm Pro Bono Project has amassed a wealth of information regarding pro bono committees.  If your firm has decided to form a pro bono committee, or if you are looking for new ways to reinvigorate an established committee, consider the options and best practices for committee structure, membership, size, mandate, and resources discussed in this brand new publication: Best Practices for Creating and Maintaining an Effective Law Firm Pro Bono Committee.

Topics addressed include:

  • Committee Composition;
  • Structuring Your Committee;
  • Committee Operations;
  • Publicizing Committee Presence within the Firm; and
  • Leadership Support.

This publication is available free of charge to Law Firm Pro Bono Project Member Firms and to all others for purchase.  To obtain a copy please contact Law Firm Project Assistant, Christine Sutherland.  If your firm is not yet a member, you can enjoy the many benefits, such as access to all publications free of charge, by becoming one today!

December 7, 2011

Gap Meets with Local Nonprofits

Last week, Gap, Inc.’s** legal department met with ten local nonprofits to conduct a legal audit of the organizations and ensure that they are operating in good legal health.  Gap partnered with CPBO, Volunteer Legal Services Program (VLSP) of The Bar Association of San Francisco, and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP* to host a Clinic in a BoxSM program.

The Clinic, held at the Gap headquarters in San Francisco, attracted 42 members of the Gap legal department, including Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Secretary, and Chief Compliance Officer Michelle Banks, who participated in the training session and met with a nonprofit client.  Banks also addressed the volunteers and clients, thanking Morgan Lewis for their expertise and support during the Clinic and beyond, VLSP for their work with the client organizations, the nonprofit clients for their work to improve the community, and CPBO for helping Gap create and expand the legal department’s pro bono program.

The Clinic began with a training session for the Gap volunteers led by lawyers from the San Francisco office of Morgan Lewis.  The training covered issues pertinent to the legal health of nonprofit organizations.  Following the training, members of the Gap legal department met with executive directors of Bay Area nonprofits, issue spotting and providing legal advice as necessary.  The Clinic was a terrific team-building exercise for the legal department, as lawyer and non-lawyers alike teamed up to provide pro bono legal assistance.

The clients serve a variety of low-income and otherwise disadvantaged people, including an organization that promotes safer neighborhoods through crime prevention and public safety services, a home for the elderly, and a group that works to expand access to financial services, savings, and investment opportunities for low-income and working poor families.

To learn more about the Clinic in a BoxSM model, contact Eve Runyon, director of CPBO.

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

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