The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
January 27, 2012

CPBO Spotlight On: Nationwide

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company** adopted a formal pro bono program in 2007.  Members of the legal department gathered to discuss opportunities, potential obstacles, and how the program should be structured and then presented a proposal to Executive Vice President and Chief Legal and Governance Officer Pat Hatler.

Pat Hatler, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal and Governance Officer

She embraced the team’s ideas and recommendations, and the legal department kicked off its pro bono program by co-hosting a Clinic in a BoxSM program with CPBO.  The clinic brought together nearly 40 lawyers, paralegals, and administrative staff to provide legal assistance to central Ohio nonprofit organizations.  The success of the clinic provided a sound foundation upon which Nationwide’s pro bono programs are built.

Mediation Programs
In late 2007, Nationwide’s Pro Bono Committee partnered with Franklin County Municipal Court’s Mediation Program to participate in the program’s evening civil mediation service.  The program’s director conducted a two-day onsite mediation training for 20 members of the Nationwide legal department. Since the initial training, 40 additional volunteers have undergone mediation training, and a new class of 20 volunteers will undergo mediation training later this year. Nationwide’s involvement has grown to include not only the evening civil mediation program, but also a daytime landlord-tenant mediation program, and an evening criminal mediation program run through the city prosecutor’s office.

Associates in Nationwide’s Des Moines, Iowa, office also volunteer with mediation programs.  Volunteers serve as mediators for the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, where Nationwide attorneys facilitate resolutions between employees and employers. Des Moines legal staff also volunteers with the Polk County Volunteer Lawyers Association mediation programs, which includes a project to keep truant youth in school.

Clinics
In the fall of 2011, Nationwide’s legal department partnered with the Legal Aid Society of Columbus (LASC) and the Paralegal Association of Central Ohio (PACO) to host a CLE program for volunteer attorneys and paralegals.  Volunteers from Nationwide participated in the PACO/LASC Wills Clinic, held monthly at senior centers and retirement homes in central Ohio.  They met with clients and prepared simple wills, living wills, organ donor documents, and financial and health care powers of attorney.

Nationwide attorneys previously partnered with the LASC to staff a clinic to assist pro se defendants in consumer collection cases prepare and file answers and manage simple discovery.  In the summer of 2011, the scope of assistance expanded from staffing a time-limited clinic to include direct and ongoing representation of clients.

Nationwide’s legal professionals in northeast Ohio and Harrisburg, Pa. regularly participate in brief advice clinics offered through their local legal aid service providers or bar associations.

National Adoption Day
Nationwide attorneys and legal staff partnered with the National Center for Adoption Law and Policy at the Capital University Law School, Franklin County Children’s Services, and the Franklin County Probate Court to staff local National Adoption Days.  Nationwide associates facilitated the uncontested adoption of 42 foster children to their foster parents.  The success of Nationwide’s volunteer efforts re-vitalized the local adoption bar to take a more active role in the local National Adoption Day.

In addition, in the wake of the 2008 floods and tornadoes in Des Moines, Nationwide attorneys staffed Iowa’s Disaster Assistance Legal Hotline and provided much-needed legal advice regarding insurance coverage, claims processes and policyholder rights.  Nationwide also participates in the Street Law Corporate Diversity Pipeline Program at Columbus International High School.

*denotes a Signatory to the Corporate Pro Bono ChallengeSM

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