The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
May 20, 2014

Evaluating Legal Departments with Pro Bono in Mind

Corporate Counsel recently published its “Best Legal Departments” issue, highlighting four companies with exemplary legal departments. The PBEye congratulates the winning departments: 3M Company**, American International Group, Inc.** (AIG), NetApp, Inc., and The Related Group. While ranking legal departments is an imperfect process, these four undoubtedly deserve praise – especially since two of those departments were noted for their formal pro bono programs.

The four departments selected by the magazine exhibit a number of impressive characteristics such as crisis management, litigation expertise, and innovativeness. While valuable, what caught the attention of The PBEye was recognition of the commitment to pro bono by two of the companies – AIG and 3M. Members of these departments balance their everyday work with pro bono services but as a whole still look to improve their program:

“3M Lawyers donated about 1,000 hours of their services in 2013 helping on matters that included debt counseling, divorce work, and senior law…The goal is to accrue 1,500 hours of pro bono work this year.”

“[AIG’s] program provides attorneys a wide variety of opportunities to volunteer for causes like … the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project, which helps Iraqis and Afghans who assisted U.S. troops and now find their lives in danger to immigrate to the U.S.”

The PBEye congratulates the winners for their commitment to excellence in business and pro bono and applauds the use of pro bono as a key metric for evaluation. Many other departments have committed to engage their legal staff in pro bono, including NetApp, and we look forward to seeing more of these departments honored for their efforts. If your department wants to start or improve its pro bono program, be sure to contact CPBO.

** denotes a Signatory to the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge®