The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
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

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