The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It

Corporate Pro Bono

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

 

December 20, 2016

Another Successful Pro Bono Clinic at the ACC Annual Meeting

CPBO partnered with the San Francisco Bay Area ACC Chapter and DLA Piper* to host the 16th Clinic in a Box® Program at an ACC Annual Meeting.  Like the Clinic in a Box® Program – Select Topic hosted at the 2015 ACC AM, the clinic offered a focused program, this time dedicated to wage and hour policies – including the upcoming December 2016 Department of Labor and Regulatory Changes – and anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies – with a particular focus on LGBT issues in the workplace.

The clinic began with 21 lawyers from around the world attending a training hosted by attorneys from DLA Piper.  Once trained, attorneys broke into teams and met with four nonprofits from the San Francisco Bay Area to review their wage and hour and anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.

The nonprofit organizations attending the clinic offer a wide range of services to the Bay Area community, including providing artists with mental disabilities the means to create and exhibit their art, developing community leaders through environmental education, offering educational and therapeutic services to children with emotional disturbance or developmental delays, and making sure veterans have the resources and support they need.

Both the clients and volunteers provided positive feedback on their experience.  Clients noted their appreciation of the clinic and volunteers by saying “Thank you so much” and that they’d received, “Excellent employee handbook review!”  Volunteers also stated that they “loved doing this,” and that the clinic “was a great experience.”

To read more about past CPBO Clinic in a Box® programs, please click 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.

Photos by Scott Dressel-Martin.

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

November 15, 2016

Verizon Hosts Two Clinic in a Box® Programs in 2016

This year, Verizon Communications Inc.** hosted its 11th and 12th Clinic in a Box® programs with CPBO and DLA Piper*†. After 10 legal audit clinics, Verizon chose the Clinic in a Box® Program – Select Topic, advising nonprofits on their bylaws and conflicts of interest policies rather than performing the traditional legal assessment.

On September 14, Verizon first tried out the new select topic model at its fifth clinic in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Sixteen volunteers from Verizon and Prudential Financial, Inc.** received training at Verizon’s headquarters from a DLA Piper partner on bylaws and conflicts of interest policies. Following the training, the in-house volunteers broke up into teams and met with five local nonprofits to review and revise their bylaws and draft or review their conflicts of interest policies with the support of the DLA Piper trainer. The clients helped during this clinic provide widely varied services to their communities such as combating domestic and sexual violence, empowering girls, and creating employment opportunities for veterans. In a given year the clients estimated they help more than 200,000 people.

With the success of the Verizon New Jersey clinic under their belts, CPBO, DLA Piper, and Verizon joined the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center and United Way of the National Capital Area to prepare for30246989956_18073b7634_z the September 30 bylaws and conflict of interest policies clinic in Washington, D.C. The structure of the clinic remained the same. Eighteen in-house volunteers from Verizon, Bank of America Corporation**, and The Brookings Institution** received training from DLA Piper and then met with eight local nonprofits to review and revise their bylaws and draft or review their conflicts of interest policies. The missions of the nonprofit clients include addressing the needs of LGBT immigrants, promoting policies that fight domestic and international hunger, and instilling confidence in kids through sports.

The PBEye congratulates Verizon and all of the co-hosts and volunteers that made these clinics possible, and looks forward to more great work in 2017 and the years that follow!

The Clinic in a Box® program is a time-limited pro bono opportunity that allows in-house lawyers and other department staff to work together to provide meaningful assistance to organizations that serve the local community. Those interested in reading more about past CPBO Clinic in a Box® programs should click here. To learn more about hosting a Clinic in a Box® program, please contact CPBO at cpbo@probonoinst.org.

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

November 14, 2016

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday

Need a cure for the end of Daylight Savings Time and early sunsets? Tune in to Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour, and learn about exciting and meaningful developments in the world of law firm pro bono and access to justice.  Want to learn more about the world of in-house pro bono? Check out Corporate Pro Bono’s podcast, the CLO & Pro Bono Series, which features Chief Legal Officers discussing the importance of pro bono and equal access to justice.

pbhh-logoDon’t miss our recent interview with Cynthia Anderson and Jon Bye of Lindquist & Vennum*.  Cynthia and Jon talk to us about the firm’s history and pro bono program, community economic development, “Breaking Poverty Barrier’s to Equal Justice,” and more. Subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour in iTunes or YouTube for more episodes!

cpbo-podcast-box-1400-dclListen to Ron Bell, General Counsel and Secretary at Yahoo! Inc.** talk about Yahoo’s history, how pro bono is a natural fit with its values and culture, and the tremendous benefits of providing pro bono legal services to the clients, but to volunteers, and department.  Subscribe to the CLO & Pro Bono Series in iTunes or YouTube for more episodes!

Listen along and let us know what you think. Send your comments, thoughts, feedback, questions, and suggestions to probono@probonoinst.org. Be warned: we might just read them on the air.

 

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

** denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

November 1, 2016

Guest Blog: Caterpillar’s Commitment to Renewal House and its Residents

We at The PBEye are inspired every day by the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatories. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the launch of the CPBO Challenge® initiative, we are showcasing some of their projects with the hope that they inspire you, too.

From its inception in 2006, the Caterpillar Inc.** Pro Bono Program in Nashville has covered a spectrum of legal matters from researching social security laws in the U.S. to inheritance rights in Kenya; from assisting young immigrants with their deferred action immigration paperwork to helping the elderly and indigent through our simple wills and powers of attorney clinics.

Our longest standing partnership has been with Renewal House, a local nonprofit that provides residential and non-residential treatment programs to women with drug and alcohol addictions. In the residential program, if the mother has custody, her young children may reside with her as she goes through the recovery programs. Over the last 10 years, we have provided a wide variety of legal services to Renewal House and its residents.

As a group, we’ve conducted many simple wills and powers of attorney clinics. In small teams or individually, we’ve been involved in divorce/custody/name change/visitation/child support matters, subpoena matters, worked on their document retention policy, an employee manual as well as a grantcaterpillar application. In addition to conducting document and contract reviews, we have amended their bylaws.

Our pro bono efforts have had a profound impact on Renewal House in that by providing assistance to the struggling mothers we have given them stepping stones to rebuild confidence in their future and to the organization itself, by providing a multitude of free legal services to the nonprofit. In return, Renewal House has given us a sense of accomplishment as we feel that in some small way, we’ve helped make a difference in the lives of the women.

Yvonne Clemence is a paralegal in Caterpillar Inc.’s Legal Services Division and the coordinator of its Nashville Pro Bono Program.  Michael G. Sposato is a Deputy General Counsel in Caterpillar Inc.’s Legal Services Division and its Pro Bono Committee Chair.

** denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

October 26, 2016

Eisai Hosts First Clinic in a Box® Program – Wills

vince-andrews2The legal department of Eisai Inc. launched its formal pro bono program in 2015 by hosting a Clinic in a Box® Program – Legal Audit. Eisai liked the model but was eager to provide legal services more aligned with its corporate philosophy of human health care (hhc) and help those assisted by their community advocacy colleagues, namely individuals impacted by breast cancer. Eisai’s pro bono leaders approached CPBO about adapting the model to provide individuals with end-of-life documents, which would require finding the right co-hosts and developing substantive materials from scratch. Fortunately, Drescher & Cheslow, McCarter & English*†, and Volunteer Lawyers for Justice had the expertise and the desire to join the effort and expand the model. On July 20 at the Eisai legal department’s annual all-hands meeting at its headquarters in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, 24 Eisai attorneys and their colleagues provided 10 clients with wills, durable powers of attorney, and advanced directives for health care.

As with any Clinic in a Box® program, eisai-trainingthe clinic started with volunteers receiving in-depth training provided by attorneys from Drescher & Cheslow and McCarter & English. After the training, volunteers broke into teams of two and three to meet with their clients to conduct interviews and, with help from attorneys from Drescher & Cheslow and McCarter & English, draft and proof wills, durable powers of attorney, and advance directives for health care, which were signed, witnessed, and notarized as needed to be taken home.

eisai-client-meetingDespite the tough subject matter both clients and volunteers expressed appreciation for the clinic.  Of her experience, one volunteer said, “I feel this is an awesome program. I can see the benefit of helping and the outreach is awesome.” As for the clients, all were thrilled to receive the documents and as one client noted, the comfort of knowing that this was not something she needed to worry about any more. Congratulations and thank you to the co-hosts and volunteers. These clinics are not possible without your time, energy, and enthusiasm.

eisai-group-shotACC chapters and legal departments interested in hosting a similar clinic, can learn more at Clinic in a Box® program 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

 

October 25, 2016

Guest Blog: Review-A-Rama Takes Off: UHG and CVLC Mobilize Volunteers for Vets

We at The PBEye are inspired every day by the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatories. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the launch of the CPBO Challenge® initiative, we are showcasing some of their projects with the hope that they inspire you, too.

Legal communities across the country are turning toward unbundled legal services to improve access to justice. In 2015, inspired by this trend and by the possibilities of expanding justice for Connecticut’s disabled veterans, UnitedHealth Group** (UHG) and The Connecticut Veterans Legal Center (CVLC) launched Review-a-Rama, a model for limited-scope pro bono assistance by in-house legal staff.

UHG and CVLC are now mid-way through the third round of Review-a-Rama. More than 170 UHG law department employees from across 26 states pledged to review over 30,000 pages of veteran medical and military files between Memorial Day and Veterans Day 2016. With this major effort underway, we can now report on our successes and lessons learned thus far.

The Solution to a Tremendous Need

In designing Review-a-Rama, CVLC and UHG sought to alleviate a bottleneck in CVLC’s workflow while also providing short-term volunteer opportunities for employees in UHG’s legal department, including paralegal and administrative staff. The Review-a-Rama project model allows CVLC attorneys to more efficiently handle cases that require the time-consuming review of very large medical and military files by engaging UHG employees to handle those initial reviews. Single files can number more than 1,000 pages apiece and take hours to review carefully for pertinent evidence.

UHG employees go through a training program with CVLC on how to conduct their reviews and CVLC shares file-specific instructions on what types of information to look for in each case. The more detailed the instructions for each file, the more equipped volunteers are to have a productive volunteer experience.

When they receive their file, UHG volunteers read the documents and parse out important content. Volunteers then summarize the content for CVLC attorneys, creating an evidentiary timeline with page references to the primary source material. Volunteers send the evidentiary timelines back to CVLC attorneys, who use them to provide faster turnaround on case merit assessments, client advisements, and brief writing.

The Right Match

Review-a-Rama works because it strikes the right note between providing an important service to CVLC’s clients and harnessing the energy, skills, and generosity of a large group of UHG volunteers. Engaging volunteers for unbundled document review provides a significant service to CVLC’s clients.

Review-a-Rama not only requires the time and attention of the UHG volunteers who review files, it also requires a significant collaborative planning effort by UHG project leads Denise Zamore, Eric Greenberg, and Emily Robakiewicz. Frequent, regular phone calls between UHG and CVLC allowed the team to brainstorm creative ideas and anticipate challenges together as the project expanded.

UHG Deputy General Counsel and Pro Bono Committee Co-Chair Brian DuPerre, who has been an active part of the project team said, “It’s been exciting to see this concept grow from a local pilot program with 27 participants to a national pro bono project open to all of our 1,300 plus law department colleagues across the country. To have 13 percent of our law department volunteering their skills on a single project is unprecedented since we have staff in nearly every corner of the country.” When we think about why this program has been so successful we reflect on the lessons learned. DuPerre added, “A key lesson for us has been to keep this simple, effective and efficient by permitting volunteers to pick their commitment level as well as the time period in which to complete their tasks.”

CVLC Executive Director Margaret Middleton describes the culture of the partnership. “We are really grateful to the UHG team for helping us figure out how to make this novel idea work,” Middleton said. “This was a collaborative brainstorm. It’s great when you have a corporate partner who is open to reviewing and enhancing the process with you.”  Trying out ideas, making changes to improve the process with each iteration, and the importance of open communication have all been instrumental qualities of this partnership and have set the stage for Review-a-Rama’s success.

The Bottom Line

UHG’s epic effort in Review-a-Rama has helped CVLC achieve its mission. For clients of CVLC, legal services can mean the difference between stable housing, accessible healthcare, and a steady income – or living on the street. CVLC’s mission is to assist veterans recovering from homelessness and mental illness in removing barriers to health, housing, and income.

CVLC’s attorneys appreciate the help in providing more efficient services to clients. CVLC Senior Counsel Christy Fischer expressed her gratitude saying, “Review-A-Rama has been a wonderful expansion of CVLC’s ability to assist veterans. The RAR teams have allowed CVLC staff attorneys to timely review numerous files. The additional eyes on the case have proved invaluable.”

The size and scope of the volunteer engagement in Review-a-Rama reflects a willingness and desire on the part of UHG employees to provide meaningful assistance to veterans. As one volunteer said, “I am thankful for this opportunity to assist the State of Connecticut and our Veterans.” In order to serve veterans who have served us, it seems fitting to honor Connecticut’s by mobilizing a small army of volunteers.

Millie VandenBroek is the Howard R. Udell Staff Attorney and Cara Cancelmo is the Director of Development and Communications at Connecticut Veterans Legal Center.

** denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

October 11, 2016

Guest Blog: Partnering in Chicago to Make a Difference

We at The PBEye are inspired every day by the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatories. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the launch of the CPBO Challenge® initiative, we are showcasing some of their projects with the hope that they inspire you, too.

For more than two years, Discoverdiscover-quote Financial Services** volunteers have joined with DLA Piper*† and LAF, a Chicago legal services provider, to host a free legal services clinic in the Woodlawn neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. The monthly clinic began in 2009 in response to the critical, unmet legal needs many low-income families in the area face, including housing and landlord tenant issues, public benefits, child support, and expungement of criminal records.  Since its inception, the Woodlawn Legal Clinic has served over 1,000 low-income clients living in the underserved South Side of Chicago.

In 2013, Discover’s pro bono committee was introduced to DLA Piper and LAF and jumped at the opportunity to become involved in their efforts. Since first attending the clinic, more than 20 Discover lawyers and 10 non-lawyers have spent in excess of 200 cumulative hours volunteering.

So far in 2016, Discover attorneys, paralegals, and interns have volunteered at the Woodlawn Legal Clinic six times and participated in more than 20 other pro bono events and projects. Here is what one of our lawyers had to say about Discover’s pro bono program: “I am very proud to be part of a company and a Law Department that so strongly values and supports my participation in pro bono activities.” My sentiments exactly.

Gary Wachtel is a Director in Discover Financial Services’ Law Department and its Pro Bono Committee Chair.

† 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

October 10, 2016

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday

Our offices are closed today, but it is still pro bono podcast Monday. Tune in to Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour, and learn about exciting and meaningful developments in the world of law firm pro bono and access to justice.  Want to learn more about the world of in-house pro bono? Check out Corporate Pro Bono’s podcast, the CLO & Pro Bono Series, which features Chief Legal Officers discussing the importance of pro bono and equal access to justice.

pbhh-logoDon’t miss our recent interview with Jeseñia Brown of Lowenstein Sandler*†. Jeseñia talks to us about the firm’s pro bono program, her background and career, “Pro Bono in the Park,” and more. Subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour in iTunes or YouTube for more episodes!

 

cpbo-podcast-box-1400-dclListen to Susie Lees, executive vice president and general counsel of Allstate Insurance Company**, discuss her career, the company’s commitment to be a force for good, and the department’s various pro bono efforts. Subscribe to the CLO & Pro Bono Series in iTunes or YouTube for more episodes!

Listen along and let us know what you think. Send your comments, thoughts, feedback, questions, and suggestions to probono@probonoinst.org. Be warned: we might just read them on the air.

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

** denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

 

 

October 4, 2016

A Month of the CLO & Pro Bono Series

Interested in the world of in-house pro bono? We’ve createdcpbo-podcast-box-1400-dcl a brand new podcast just for you! PBI’s newest podcast series, the CLO & Pro Bono Series has been on air for a month, featuring the following chief legal officers of Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatories discussing the importance of pro bono and equal access to justice:

  • Craig Silliman, Executive Vice President of Public Policy and General Counsel of Verizon Communications**. Silliman shares highlights from his department’s pro bono efforts and why he is passionate about access to justice.
  • Michael Holston, executive vice president and general counsel of Merck & Co., Inc.**. Holston provides insight into Merck’s pro bono program and shares why being a CPBO Challenge® signatory is important, as well as how the Merck Foundation supports the legal department’s pro bono partners.
  • Marcus Brown, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Entergy Corporation**. Brown talks about the dramatic growth of Entergy’s pro bono program and the development of the Self Help Resource Center which has served nearly 8,000 individuals in just three years.
  • Alex Dimitrief, general counsel and senior vice president for General Electric Company** and his colleague Kate O’Leary, global executive litigation counsel and head of GE’s pro bono coordinating committee. Dimitrief and O’Leary discuss GE’s pro bono program, its pro bono efforts around the world, Dimitrief’s goal of 100% participation, and much more.

Wish you could know the second a new podcast comes out?  Then subscribe to the CLO & Pro Bono Series Podcast in iTunes. Have you rated us on iTunes yet? Yes? Thank you! No? Would you consider doing it now? The podcast is also available on YouTube. Links to episodes can be found here. Join the conversation today!

We’re still learning, so listen along and let us know what you think. Send your comments, thoughts, feedback, questions, and suggestions to CPBO.

† 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