The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It

Corporate Pro Bono

September 14, 2017

Pro Bono Happy Hour Podcast, Special Edition: DACA

PBI recently released a special edition of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour, in response to the cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. President and CEO Eve Runyon also released a statement about PBI’s support for our stakeholders who are providing legal assistance to DACA recipients and other immigrants.

In this episode, we talk with Chris Marquardt of Alston & Bird*†, David March of the Minnesota Corporate Pro Bono Council, and Liz Markuci of Volunteers of Legal Service (VOLS) about the impacts the cancellation of DACA will have on immigrant communities and their own personal experiences and reflections. They also offer meaningful ways that pro bono attorneys can get involved and be of assistance right now. Take 35 minutes to listen to our conversation.

Subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts and be sure to leave a review. We’d appreciate the feedback and it would help us expand the conversation about pro bono and access to justice. The podcast is also available on YouTube. Links to all of our episodes can be found here.

* denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

† denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Project® member

 

September 13, 2017

Add a Little Pro Bono to Your 2017 ACC Annual Meeting

Want to add a little pro bono service to your ACC Annual Meeting schedule? On Monday, October 16, CPBO will co-host a Clinic in a Box® program with ACC National Capital Region, D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center, and Womble Carlyle*† at the 2017 ACC Annual Meeting. For the third time during an ACC Annual Meeting, CPBO will run its Clinic in a Box® Program – Select Topic.  This year’s clinic will focus on social media policies and online marketing compliance for nonprofits.

The clinic will begin with a one-and-a-half hour training session led by attorneys from Womble Carlyle. Volunteers will then meet in teams with a local nonprofit organization to draft or revise its social media policy (applicable to employees and volunteers) and advise them on complying with federal laws governing marketing and advertising online. The clinic provides a great opportunity to aid organizations that may otherwise be unable to afford such assistance.

Registration is open to all in-house counsel and their legal department colleagues.  You do not need to attend the 2017 ACC Annual Meeting to participate, but all volunteers must complete online registration by September 20.

To find out more about the clinic, please contact CPBO, and for the complete ACC Annual Meeting schedule, click here. We look forward to seeing you in D.C.!

denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® signatory
† denotes a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project

September 6, 2017

And the Winner Is…

CPBO will present the 2017 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Awards, recognizing innovative team approaches to pro bono work involving in-house legal departments, at PBI’s Annual Dinner, on September 28. The PBEye is proud to congratulate the recipients:

  • CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award – Small Law: Alcoa Corporation and Arconic Inc. in partnership with Meyer, Unkovic & Scott for their work on the Landlord Tenant Project; and
  • CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award – Large Law: UnitedHealth Group Incorporated** and Connecticut Veterans Legal Center on their project, “Review-A-Rama.”

Pro Bono Partner Award – Small Law

The Landlord Tenant Project (Project) assists low-income individuals facing landlord-tenant and other housing legal issues. These issues are of paramount importance in focusing on a basic need of all people: safe and affordable housing. Through the Project, volunteers represent families and individuals at housing denial hearings, and staff a hotline which provides advice and, when appropriate, brief services.

Pro Bono Partner Award – Large Law

Review-A-Rama engages members of the UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (UHG) Legal, Compliance & Regulatory Affairs Department (LCRA) to review massive files of medical and military documents and provide detailed summaries to Connecticut Veterans Legal Center (CVLC) attorneys who represent veterans in disability benefit claims with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. As a result of Review-A-Rama and UHG’s efforts, CVLC is able to offer full-scope representation to more veterans in need.

The PBEye congratulates the CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award recipients on their continued dedication to increasing access to justice, and looks forward to celebrating their accomplishments at the PBI Annual Dinner! If you are interested in supporting the Annual Dinner, please contact Kelly Simon (202.729.6691) for more information. We hope to see you there!

August 29, 2017

There’s Still Time to Win the CPBO Chapter Challenge

There’s less than a month left to participate in the CPBO Chapter Challenge! The CPBO Chapter Challenge invites ACC chapters to encourage their members to demonstrate their commitment to pro bono legal services by signing or encouraging their CLOs to sign the CPBO Challenge® statement. The ACC chapter with the most new signatories to the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® initiative on September 7 will be recognized at the October ACC Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. with a champagne toast at the ACC exhibit hall booth.

In 2016 – the inaugural year of the CPBO Chapter Challenge – competing chapters collectively encouraged 10 legal departments to declare their commitment to pro bono and sign the CPBO Challenge® statement. CPBO honored ACC Chicago for encouraging the most CLOs to join the Challenge. For more information and Challenge criteria, please contact CPBO at cpbo@probonoinst.org.

 

August 23, 2017

Spotlight: Arizona ACC Chapter Transforms State’s In-House Pro Bono Activities

In 2016, the Arizona ACC Chapter launched the In-House Counsel Pro Bono Commission (IHCPBC) with the vision of creating a statewide structure to facilitate pro bono activities for in-house counsel by addressing impediments and providing organized opportunities. While the commission has only existed for a short time, it has already begun to transform the way in-house counsel pro bono activities operate in Arizona and have a positive impact on communities across the state.

  Goals of the IHCPBC:

  • “Specifically, tailor efforts to in-house counsel, enabling counsel to select the activity that will personally resonate and encourage engagement
  • Improve efficiencies, enabling the sharing of resources which will help to eliminate redundancies and administrative burdens
  • Facilitate making connections, between in-house counsel and partners helping to deliver the pro bono activities
  • Provide a forum for sharing, exploring, and supporting ideas that build upon each other
  • Provide a platform to grow awareness to have broader reach and impact
  • Shine a light on current efforts, enabling others to partner/follow and provide match making like connections”

The IHCPBC was the brainchild of the board of the Arizona ACC Chapter, which began working in 2015 to:

  • build the structure of the commission;
  • invite leaders from legal departments, organizations such as the Arizona Bar Foundation and Volunteer Lawyers Program, the Arizona Judiciary’s Access to Justice Commission, local law schools, and law firms to join the IHCPBC;
  • eliminate obstacles to in-house counsel fully engaging in pro bono legal service; and
  • create key working groups that pair an in-house counsel with a third-party leader to help drive each working group’s strategy.

Addressing Impediments to In-House Pro Bono

From its inception, the IHCPBC has engaged in a wide variety of work to encourage and streamline in-house counsel pro bono activities. The commission has worked to eliminate challenges that previously deterred in-house counsel, such as a lack of malpractice insurance, time restrictions, and a mismatch of skills.  With regard to insurance, the IHCPBC worked with the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services to offer malpractice insurance for in-house counsel who provide pro bono within the umbrella of the IHCPBC.  In addition, it has coordinated partnerships with agencies and law firms to provide any necessary training. Furthermore, the IHCPBC has worked to clarify and spread awareness of limited scope representation and licensing rules that apply to pro bono activities.

Pro Bono Assistance

By setting the framework for a significant amount of strategic collaboration among in-house counsel, agencies, key community leaders, and law firms, the IHCPBC has strengthened pro bono opportunities across Arizona. The commission is currently supporting a number of pro bono efforts to engage in-house volunteers to (i) assist veteran-based entrepreneurs in their startup businesses, (ii) provide free, essential legal documents to first responders and military personnel, (iii) staff a variety of clinics, and (iv) serve as mediators for selected small business litigants in the Arizona Commercial Court.

Access to Justice Initiatives

In addition to supporting in-house pro bono activities, the IHCPBC is focused on improving access to justice and increasing diversity in the legal profession, including arranging classroom visits with attorneys, hosting panels at libraries to provide the community with basic legal information, and developing online resources.

Successes So Far

Since its launch last year, the commission has:

  • increased in-house pro bono participation by partnering with numerous organizations and law firms to engage in-house counsel to provide pro bono legal assistance to dozens of low income individuals, refugees, startups, and first responders;
  • assisted hundreds of refugees in partnership with key service providers on a wide-range of matters, including legal documentation, landlord-tenant issues, education matters, basic legal issues, general assistance, and advising non-profits that help refugees;
  • piloted and launched a mediation program with the Arizona Commercial Court, which entailed developing the program, testing it out, successfully resolving two cases, and fully rolling out the program to benefit litigants;
  • hosted two CLE programs, one on implicit bias and the other on assisting refugees through the immigration process;
  • advocated for amending AZ’s practice rules to empower in-house pro bono by eliminating the double certification requirement for in-house counsel licensed outside of Arizona and working in the state to provide greatly needed pro bono legal services;
  • strongly supported the Arizona Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission;
  • published a menu of pro bono activities suitable for in-house counsel, which acts as a guide for volunteers to engage in a way that personally resonates and benefits those in need; and
  • engaged with the community by hosting multiple library panels for the public and fireside chats with veterans starting their own businesses, and visiting numerous classrooms.

CPBO congratulates the Arizona ACC Chapter, the IHCPBC, and all of their partners for their tremendous work and dedication to pro bono activities. For information on the how CPBO can help your chapter start or grow its pro bono program, click here.

August 8, 2017

Join CPBO to Learn About the Ethics of In-House Pro Bono

The 2017 ACC Annual Meeting may feel like a ways away, but it’s never too early to start deciding which sessions to check out! There will be a number of in-house pro bono-related events, including the session “Ethics of In-house Pro Bono” (Tuesday, October 12, 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm). The session will provide an overview of the ethical issues in-house attorneys face when representing clients in pro bono matters in the U.S. and around the globe, as well as address practical issues related to in-house pro bono. Topics will include administering a pro bono program, managing conflicts (both legal and business), and securing malpractice insurance. CPBO is excited to announce the following speakers will be presenting at the session:

In addition, don’t forget to register for the Clinic in a Box® program (Monday, October 16, 8:30 am – 1:15 pm) to assist local nonprofits and earn CLE. Contact CPBO Project Assistant, Virginia Lyon.

To find out more about in-house pro bono or CPBO at the ACC Annual Meeting contact CPBO at cpbo@probonoinst.org. We look forward to seeing you in DC!

**denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory
† denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Project® member

August 1, 2017

On Wachtel’s Watch, 90% of Discover Financial’s Legal Team Provides Pro Bono

On July 17, The Chicago Bar Association and The Chicago Bar Foundation presented Gary Wachtel, Senior Director in the law department of Discover Financial Services** and chair of Discover’s Pro Bono Committee, with the Exelon Outstanding Corporate Counsel Award. Endowed by Exelon Corporation**, the award recognizes “the generally unsung pro bono contributions of outstanding attorneys in the corporate sector.” It is a well-deserved recognition. In addition to personally dedicating numerous hours to pro bono, in his role as committee chair, Wachtel has expanded Discover’s pro bono engagement and encouraged colleagues to participate. Under his leadership as committee chair, more than 90% of Discover’s legal team has undertaken pro bono or volunteer projects in their communities, totaling nearly 1,500 hours of pro bono service.  Wachtel has also collaborated with other legal departments to increase access to justice and build the culture of in-house pro bono in the area.

One of Wachtel’s biggest accomplishments to date is leading Discover’s partnership with the non-profits, Between Friends and LAF (Legal Assistance Foundation), to establish a free help desk for survivors of domestic violence at the Cook County Courthouse in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. Volunteer attorneys from Allstate Insurance Company**, Discover, DLA Piper*, and Illinois Tool Works Inc. receive training from LAF regarding domestic violence law and strategies to properly interact with survivors. Following their training, the attorneys staff the help desk with support from LAF to help survivors navigating the difficult and emotional legal process. Access to legal representation is vital for survivors, providing them with critical information that they might not otherwise receive and increasing their chances of quickly and successfully obtaining protection orders.

In addition to the Rolling Meadows Help Desk, Wachtel and Discover have become a strong partner with DLA Piper and LAF at their monthly legal services clinic in the Woodlawn neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois.  Discover joined the Woodlawn Legal Clinic team in 2013 and since then dozens of Discover volunteers have contributed hundreds of pro bono hours.

CPBO congratulates Wachtel for his deep commitment to pro bono work and public service in his community. For more information on the Rolling Meadows Domestic Violence Help Desk, click here and here. For more information on the Woodlawn Legal Clinic, check out Wachtel’s 2016 guest blog here.

† denotes a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project
*denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® signatory
**denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

Hat tip to PBI intern Sahil Shah for his help on this post.

July 28, 2017

CPBO in the Windy City

On July 12, CPBO made its yearly trip _ to Chicago to meet with in-house pro bono leaders from the metro area as well as co-host the 7th annual ACC Chicago Clinic in a Box® program with the ACC Chicago Chapter, the Community Law Project, and DLA Piper*†.

Upon arriving in Chicago, CPBO met with local in-house pro bono leaders to discuss ways to build and improve in-house pro bono programs and to share recent developments in in-house pro bono. Hosted by Discover Financial Services**, attendees discussed various pro bono initiatives, legal services organization partnerships, and ideas for deepening pro bono engagement in legal departments. The meeting was well attended with representatives from large and small legal departments throughout the Chicago metro area.

Early the next day, at the new offices of DLA Piper, CPBO welcomed 47 attorneys and professional staff from legal departments throughout Chicagoland, ready to assist 14 local nonprofits. Due to the success of last year’s select topic clinic, the partnering organizations opted to work on another specific area of concern to nonprofits: sick leave policies and separation agreements. Volunteers began the day with an hour and a half training session led by attorneys from DLA Piper. Volunteers then met with representatives of a nonprofit organization to draft or revise the organization’s leave policies and a form separation agreement, providing the organization with documents to take at the end of the clinic.

By providing legal assistance to these nonprofits, the volunteers helped ensure that these organizations can sustain the services they offer to the community, ranging from eradicating racism through theater arts to creating opportunities for refugees fleeing war. One client expressed appreciation for the clinic, “This was great, well organized, and the volunteers were exceptional – so knowledgeable, so friendly, so helpful.” CPBO would like to thank the organizers and volunteers for their time and effort in making this clinic a success.

For more information about in-house pro bono training opportunities, including past CPBO Clinic in a Box® programs, click here and here. To learn more about hosting a Clinic in a Box® program or about in-house pro bono, please contact CPBO at cpbo@probonoinst.org.

* denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® signatory
† denotes a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project

**denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

July 18, 2017

Transgender Name Changes and Pro Bono

As of 2016,approximately 1.4 million people in the United States identify as transgender. An important milestone in many of their transitions is legally changing their name and gender marker. However, the process can be overwhelming due to confusing regulations, high costs, and government bureaucracy. Transgender people are four times more likely to live under the poverty line, and many cannot afford the financial and time commitment necessary to obtain a legal change in name and gender designation. Fortunately, a number of organizations across the country have dedicated time and resources to provide such services through pro bono volunteers.

For example, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), a nonprofit committed to ending discrimination and achieving equality for transgender people, launched The Name Change Project in 2007 to help transgender individuals legally change their name and gender marker. Over the past ten years, many law firms and legal departments have volunteered with the Name Change Project to provide pro bono legal services, including The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation**, The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.**, and  Viacom, Inc.** Currently, the Name Change Project serves individuals in Chicago, IL (Cook County), Milwaukee, WI (Milwaukee County), New York City, NY (all five boroughs/counties), Philadelphia, PA (Philadelphia County), and Pittsburgh, PA (Allegheny County). Pro bono attorneys meet with their clients to discuss the process, prepare and file the necessary documents for a name change petition, schedule and attend hearings, and assist with any other state requirements. With the help of an attorney, the name change process typically takes an average of four months to complete, and an average of 20 attorney hours.

Five years ago in Washington, D.C., Trans Legal Advocates of Washington (TransLAW) and Whitman-Walker Health worked together to begin offering free clinics to provide legal assistance with the name and gender marker change process. These walk-in clinics are now hosted monthly.  Trained volunteers help transgender people obtain court orders and change drivers’ licenses, passports, birth certificates, and other identity documents and public records.

Transgender people can face many legal obstacles and pro bono attorneys can make a significant impact in overcoming those obstacles. The National Center for Transgender Equality maintains the Trans Legal Services Network Directory, a list of national, regional, and local organizations that provide legal help.

** denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

Hat tip to PBI intern Sahil Shah for his help with this post.

June 27, 2017

Clorox Honored as 2017 Best Legal Department

In early June, Corporate Counsel announced CPBO Challenge® signatory, The Clorox Company**, as one of four 2017 Best Legal Departments. The awardees were selected based on success stories indicating the department has been integral in leading innovation and change.

According to Corporate Counsel’s write-up on Clorox’s award, Cleaning up with Clorox’s Legal Team, the department received the award in part because of its knack for successfully collaborating with the company’s business side. “Our hallmark is partnering with business,” says Laura Stein, Clorox’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel and CPBO’s Advisory Board Co-Chair, “The global legal implications of doing business today gives us a seat at the table.” Members of Stein’s legal department co-lead Clorox programs on topics such as global privacy, cybersecurity, and enterprise management.

In addition to significant collaboration, the department was commended for its commitment to driving positive change in the legal profession through pro bono work and efforts to increase diversity. Under  American Bar Association standards, the Clorox legal team is 75 percent diverse, and Stein herself chairs the national Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, an organization of more than 265 corporate legal officers and law firm managing partners dedicated to creating a diverse legal profession.

In addition to diversity in the legal profession, the Clorox legal team works to improve the legal profession through pro bono work. In 2016, Clorox attorneys provided pro bono services through a number of projects. Volunteers partnered with the East Bay Community Law Center to expunge criminal records and provided guidance on copyright and trademark issues for clients of California Lawyers for the Arts.

In giving the award, Corporate Counsel also mentioned Mark Danis, Gillian Thackray, and Angela Hilt, leaders of Clorox’s legal team, for such notable work as winning a case that could have affected many producers of consumer goods, working closely with a business unit on critical patent protections, and broadening Clorox’s reach into the health care industry through the acquisition of RenewLife.

The PBEye congratulates Clorox for its award along with First Data, IBM, and PETA Foundation, and commends the legal department for its continued commitment to pro bono and driving diversity in the legal profession.

** denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

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