The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It

Corporate Pro Bono

April 18, 2017

CLO Letter in Support of Funding LSC Reaches 195 Signatories

In response to The White House Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) recommendation to eliminate federal funding for the Legal Services Corp. (LSC) for FY18, 195 chief legal officers and general counsel from across the U.S. have signed their names to a letter in support of funding LSC at $450 million for the next fiscal year. The National Law Journal pointed out that the signatories represent numerous industries and some of the country’s biggest companies.

Why are so many general counsel committed to supporting LSC? As the largest funder of civil legal services in the U.S., LSC funds the legal aid organizations that serve almost two million Americans every year and play a vital role in helping ensure access to justice. LSC-funded organizations offer a wide range of necessary services, including representation of domestic violence survivors, families in danger of losing their homes, and veterans and seniors deprived of public benefits to name a few. In addition, these organizations are essential in connecting those in need to pro bono legal services offered by legal departments and law firms.

In-house counsel aren’t the only ones in support of funding LSC. More than 150 law firm leaders signed a similar letter sent to OMB in early March which noted, “Eliminating the Legal Services Corporation will not only imperil the ability of civil legal aid organizations to serve Americans in need, it will also vastly diminish the private bar’s capacity to help these individuals.”

PBI stands with LSC and those who believe it should be fully funded.

To learn more or add your name to the letter, which will be updated and re-submitted at various stages of the budget approval process, please contact CPBO.

March 29, 2017

One Month Left For Nominations for the 2017 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award

Time is running out to submit Pro Bono Partner Award Nominations for 2017. Until April 21, CPBO is accepting nominations for the 2017 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award. The award recognizes innovative team approaches to pro bono work involving in-house legal departments, law firms, and public interest groups. Nominated partnerships must include at least one legal department and one or more law firms and/or public interest group partners. CPBO may present two awards: (1) to a partnership that includes a legal department of 50 or more lawyers; and (2) to a partnership that includes a legal department of 49 or less lawyers.

The award will be presented at the Pro Bono Institute Annual Dinner in New York City on September 28, 2017.

The 2016 recipients were:

A full list of previous award winners can be found here. To nominate a pro bono partnership, please complete a nomination form and submit a letter of nomination no later than April 21, 2017.

Award criteria and the nomination form are available here. For more information about the award, please contact CPBO.
**denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

 

March 21, 2017

Learn More about In-House Pro Bono Budgets

This March, CPBO releases the latest installment in its infographic series, aimed at making complicated in-house pro bono issues easier to digest. The newly published infographic is titled “In-House Pro Bono Budgets”. The new publication touches on: expenses, budgeting, and foundation funding. The data comes from not-yet-released responses to the 2016 CPBO Benchmarking Survey.

Among other statistics, the infographic reveals that the largest expenses covered in annual budgets include trainings of volunteers and refreshments at events. In addition, 50% of respondents whose pro bono programs received support from the company’s foundation or CSR department report in 2015 they received more than $100,000.

Want to know about more than just budgets? Good news, CPBO has developed a wide variety of resources for legal departments of any size, including the following infographics on critical in-house pro bono issues:

Want to do a deeper dive on the issues? Take a look at CPBO’s publications or contact CPBO for a consultation.

March 7, 2017

Webinar Recap — In-House Pro Bono Partnership: Self Help Resource Center

On February 16, PBI hosted the webinar “In-House Pro Bono Partnership: Self Help Resource Center” which provided an in-depth look at the 2016 CPBO Partner Award Recipients. The CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award recognizes innovative team approaches to pro bono work involving in-house legal departments, law firms, and public interest groups.

The 2016 CPBO Partner Award honored the pro bono partnership between Entergy Corporation**, the Louisiana Civil Justice Center, and the Orleans Parish Civil District Court, to develop and support the Orleans Parish Self Help Resource Center (SHRC).  The SHRC is a help desk that assists thousands of unrepresented low-income and vulnerable domestic court litigants in the Greater New Orleans area. Launched by the Civil District Court with significant help from Entergy’s legal department, the initiative exemplifies the value and influence of leadership by in-house legal departments in the area of pro bono service.

The webinar features the following speakers discussing the ins and outs of the partnership as well as how to replicate the Self Help Resource Center in other locations or for other areas of law:

  • Judge Bernadette G. D’Souza, Domestic Section, Orleans Parish Civil District Court
  • Jonathan M. Rhodes, Executive Director, Louisiana Civil Justice Center
  • Wendy Hickok Robinson, Assistant General Counsel – Litigation, Entergy Services, Inc.
  • Michael W. Schachtam, Self-Represented Litigation Counsel, Louisiana State Bar Association

Did you miss the program? Don’t worry, it’s available on-demand! In-house participants should contact CPBO Project Assistant Virginia Lyon for registration information. Law Firm Pro Bono Project Member Firms should contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Elysse DeRita for the promotional code to register. CLE credit is available for this program in many states. Be sure to check back often for other online offerings and browse the other webinars available on-demand.

To find out more about the CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award or in-house pro bono, please contact CPBO.

**denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

February 21, 2017

Submit Nominations for the 2017 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award

Know of an inspiring and impactful pro bono partnership? CPBO is now accepting nominations for the 2017 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award. The award recognizes innovative team approaches to pro bono work involving in-house legal departments, law firms, and public interest groups. Nominated partnerships must include at least one legal department and one or more law firms and/or public interest group partners. CPBO may present two awards: (1) to a partnership that includes a legal department of 50 or more lawyers; and (2) to a partnership that includes a legal department of 49 or less lawyers.

The award will be presented at the Pro Bono Institute Annual Dinner in New York City on September 28, 2017.

The 2016 recipients were:

A full list of previous award winners can be found here. To nominate a pro bono partnership, please complete a nomination form and submit a letter of nomination no later than April 21, 2017.

Award criteria and the nomination form are available here. For more information about the award, please contact CPBO.

 

**denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

February 14, 2017

Capital One – Ringing in 2017 with Pro Bono

On January 31, Capital One Financial Corporation** co-hosted a Clinic in a Box® Program – Legal Audit with CPBO, McGuireWoods LLP*†, and United Way of the National Capital Area. Twenty-six Capital One volunteers met at the McGuireWoods office in Tysons, Virginia, to receive training and assist ten local nonprofits with a legal audit. Attorneys from McGuireWoods led an hour and a half long training that offered instruction on five areas of law vital to the upkeep of Virginia nonprofits: governance, intellectual property, employment, human resources, and fiscal management. Once the training concluded, the volunteers broke into teams and went to work with their pre-assigned clients.

Over the course of more than two hours, volunteers utilized a detailed checklist to ask questions, review current practices, provide advice, and identify areas for follow-up.  Through providing legal assistance to these nonprofits, volunteers help ensure the services these nonprofits offer their communities — ranging from support for survivors of domestic violence to housing for the homeless — can continue. One client summed up the importance of the clinic by saying, “Very useful time spent. You don’t know what you don’t know. A review like this is so beneficial to be proactive in addressing concerns!” Thank you to the organizers, volunteers, and trainers who aided not only the 10 nonprofits present, but the estimated 24,500 clients they reach.

ACC chapters and legal departments interested in hosting a similar clinic, can learn more on the Clinic in a Box® program webpage and read about previous clinics here. To discuss in-house pro bono, please contact CPBO.

* 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

 

January 17, 2017

Guest Blog: Sixth Annual ACC Northeast Chapter Clinic in a Box® Program

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky, and Popeo†* was honored to once again join with the Association of Corporate Counsel Northeast Chapter (ACC-Northeast), CPBO, and Lawyers Clearinghouse, to host a Clinic in a Box® program to provide pro bono legal services to local nonprofit organizations for the sixth year in a row.

For the 40 in-house volunteers, the day started with a 90-minute training session led by Mintz Levin Attorney Anthony Hubbard who discussed bylaws and retired Casner & Edwards Partner Dick Allen who covered conflicts of interest (COI) policies. After the training, volunteer attorneys broke into small teams and met with 14 local nonprofits to assist with developing or editing the organizations’ bylaws and COI polices.

Volunteer attorneys came from a range of companies, including Adobe Systems Incorporated, Bose Corporation, Boston Scientific Corporation**, GE Oil & Gas (a subsidiary of General Electric Company**), Liberty Mutual Holding Company Inc., National Grid USA, and Velcro Companies.

Through such clinics, the volunteers benefit not only the nonprofits they sit with that day, but the individuals those nonprofits serve. The participating nonprofits provide many critically valuable services, such as assisting low-income immigrant families, providing shelter and services to survivors of domestic violence, and providing learning opportunities for Boston’s public school children.

Mintz Levin is happy to continue to include the Clinic in a Box® program in its many pro bono efforts.    “It is a pleasure to host the clinic in our Boston office and support the great work of in-house counsel dedicating their time and legal expertise to assisting organizations that contribute so much to our community,” notes Sue Finegan, Chair, Pro Bono Committee, Mintz Levin.

Both clients and volunteers had great things to say about their experiences. “This program was very fulfilling and enjoyable!” one volunteer noted. A client added their thanks for the work done that day, commenting, “I thought the clinic was VERY helpful, the individualized attention was great. Thank you so much for your help in organizing!”

Congratulations to the Boston in-house community and thank you to ACC-Northeast, CPBO, and Lawyers Clearinghouse for continuing to co-host the clinic. We look forward to working with you again in 2017 and beyond!

Thank you, Mintz Levin, for contributing to The PBEye.

† 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

January 10, 2017

2017 PBI Annual Conference: In-House Pro Bono Pre-Conference Sessions

 
The PBEye
 invites in-house counsel and staff to join CPBO March 8-10 at the 2017 PBI Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. The Conference gives pro bono leaders from legal departments, law firms, and public interest and legal services organizations from around the world an opportunity to network and discuss ways to improve access to justice through pro bono.

In the past CPBO has offered pre-conference programming to help leaders new to pro bono start or reinvigorate their pro bono programs. In addition, this year there will be a new pre-conference session: crowd-sourcing for experienced pro bono leaders. Now there’s something for everyone! Both sessions will take place Wednesday, March 8.

  • In-House Pro Bono: The Basics9:00 – 10:45 a.m.
    This session is designed for pro bono leaders of legal departments that are in the process of creating or re-launching a pro bono program, as well as for new pro bono leaders of existing programs. Experienced legal department pro bono leaders will discuss the key elements of a successful in-house pro bono program, from insurance to leadership structure to recognition.
  • In-House Pro Bono: Mature Crowd-Sourcing9:00 – 10:45 a.m.
    This session is designed for experienced in-house pro bono leaders and provides an opportunity to leverage the collective knowledge and experience of your fellow attendees to answer your most pressing in-house pro bono questions! This highly-interactive session will break down the barriers between presenter and attendee – and allow attendees to solve each other’s challenges. Moving beyond passive listening, attendees are asked to fully engage in the ideation and problem-solving process.

Please note that pre-registration is required for The Basics and encouraged for Mature Crowd-Sourcing. Space is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis, so register early!

Those who attend will join other in-house and law firm attendees at the Regional Joint Networking Exchanges (11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.) and Networking Lunch (12:00 – 1:30 p.m.). The In-House Pro Bono Track of the Conference will officially start at 1:30 pm with a plenary, followed by in-house specific sessions and networking opportunities.

If you haven’t already, be sure to register for the Conference – the early-bird registration rate ends January 12! To learn more about other sessions, please view the in-house agenda.

January 3, 2017

Free to Practice Pro Bono in Wisconsin!

Effective January 1, the more than 225 registered in-house counsel in Wisconsin may provide pro bono legal services without unnecessary restriction. Previously, in-house counsel licensed and in good standing in other jurisdictions and registered to work for their employer in Wisconsin were permitted to provide pro bono legal services only “to qualified clients of a legal service program.” See Wis. SCR 10.03(4)(f) (cmt.).

The road to this change began several years ago when the Wisconsin ACC Chapter took up the issue. At the chapter’s urging, on October 7, 2015, the State Bar of Wisconsin filed a petition to amend the Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules. On April 13, 2016 the court held a public hearing on the rule change, where PBI President and CEO Eve Runyon provided information on the topic and answered questions about in-house legal pro bono. Following a period of deliberation, on April 28, 2016, the court voted 5-2 to adopt the petition.  On July 21, 2016, the court issued Rule Order 15-05 amending Supreme Court Rule 10.03(4)(f) to include: “A lawyer registered under this subsection may provide pro bono legal services without fee or expectation of fee as provided in SCR 20:6.1,” thereby expanding the pool of clients registered in-house counsel may serve.

Wisconsin joins Illinois, New York, and Virginia as a state that allows non-locally licensed in-house counsel to provide pro bono services free of unnecessary restrictions. The PBEye congratulates all involved in the rule change for their dedication to equal access to justice. We hope that Wisconsin, Illinois, New York, and Virginia are just the start and that it is only a matter of time until non-locally licensed in-house counsel in all states can provide pro bono legal aid to those in need without unnecessary restrictions.

Amending the local practice rules is of course only one step in increasing the role of in-house counsel in improving access to justice. Runyon returned to Wisconsin in November to speak at Quarles & Brady’s*† 2016 Annual Legal Ethics Seminar on the ethics of in-house pro bono, including the practice rules that apply to non-locally licensed in-house counsel. As discussed by all of the esteemed speakers that day, with knowledge of the rules and a bit of organization, legal departments are using their unique skills to assist those in need.

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

December 22, 2016

CLOs on the Intersection of Pro Bono and CSR at the 2016 ACC Annual Meeting

A highlight of the in-house pro bono programming offered at the ACC Annual Meeting was a session featuring Susan Lees, executive vice president and general counsel for Allstate Insurance Company**, and Amy Weaver, executive vice president and general counsel for Salesforce**. The session, moderated by Eve Runyon, president and CEO of PBI, opened with Lees and Weaver discussing their experiences in starting and growing pro bono programs, as well as providing tips for how in-house departments could start, expand, or rejuvenate their pro bono programs. The speakers offered advice to the audience such as:

  • partner with ACC chapters, law firms, or other legal departments that have well-established pro bono programs,
  • offer bite-sized volunteer opportunities,
  • consider practical logistics,
  • secure training and support,
  • conduct a survey to find out what issues interest potential volunteers, and
  • attend the PBI Annual Conference for information and networking.

With regard to pro bono programs, audience members posed questions ranging from whether to compensate for pro bono hours to how to identify volunteer opportunities.

The session then turned to the various ways corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts and pro bono legal services can be integrated, including the company foundation funding pro bono programs and contributing to partner legal aid organizations, legal support to the beneficiaries of the company’s CSR efforts, and thematic alignment. Both Lees and Weaver discussed the challenges of maintaining momentum with regard to integration, finding the right projects, knowing when to sunset those that are no longer effective, and the constant competing demands on time. The benefits, they noted, make it well-worth the effort, including the impact on clients and the draw for recruiting strong talent, particularly among millennials.

Runyon ended the session by asking where the panelists would like to see in-house pro bono go in the future. Weaver said that she expects that it will become engrained in the culture at all departments. Lees replied that she hoped technology would be developed and utilized to increase access to and the efficiency of pro bono legal services and that CSR departments would think of their legal department colleagues whenever planning new initiatives, because as Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Sad you missed out on the session? Don’t worry, CPBO has resources for you! Check out the recently published infographic “Integrating In-House Pro Bono with CSR” which outlines the various ways to align the two and spotlights the activities at several companies, including Allstate and . To learn more, contact CPBO at cpbo@probonoinst.org.

** denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory