The 2016 PBI Annual Conference featured a dynamic “Marketplace of Ideas” session, during which attendees learned about new opportunities, infrastructure, and other creative and replicable pro bono developments and projects.
The PBEye is pleased to share these ideas with the hope that they may guide and inspire you to think creatively, strategically, and collaboratively about future pro bono initiatives:
Access to Justice Fellows Program
Sue Finegan of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo*† described the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission’s Access to Justice Fellows Program, which gives experienced attorneys who have retired or are transitioning into retirement a structured opportunity to work for a year (or longer) at nonprofit organizations, legal service providers, or courts to provide critical pro bono assistance to underserved populations. With the goal of leveraging the capacity and expertise of the growing number of lawyers nearing retirement, the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission launched a pilot program in 2012 with seven fellows. Since then, the program has continued to expand: to date, there have been 55 fellows, including 19 current fellows, who have provided more than 45,000 hours of pro bono assistance to those in need.
Eric Greenberg of UnitedHealth Group Incorporated** and Millie VandenBroek of Connecticut Veterans Legal Center (CVLC) discussed Review-A-Rama, a collaborative pro bono initiative involving pro bono attorneys and staff from UnitedHealthcare, who review veteran medical and military personnel records. Many of CVLC’s clients have lengthy and complex medical files and the document review process is often excessively time-consuming. By handling much of the record processing and background review, UnitedHealthcare provides valuable assistance to CVLC attorneys and their clients. Review-A-Rama is an effective, time-limited, flexible pro bono model.
The first Review-A-Rama was held in September 2015 for professionals in UnitedHealthcare’s Connecticut office. The program has expanded nationwide and company-wide and planning has already begun for Review-A-Rama 3.0.
Monika Varma described the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center’s recent comprehensive strategic planning effort, which was part of the D.C. Bar’s overall strategic planning process. In order to reassess priorities, evaluate strengths and weaknesses, and develop strategic objectives, the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Committee created a 19-member task force. The task force used surveys, interviews, and focus groups to collect information from stakeholders about the Pro Bono Center’s strengths and opportunities for growth. This feedback, along with research and analysis of the current legal environment and potential trends, formed the foundation for a strategic plan. In addition to implementing a strategic name change, the Pro Bono Center developed a high-level plan with three goals: (1) increasing the delivery of pro bono legal services in D.C.; (2) providing innovative pro bono leadership; and (3) ensuring long-term financial sustainability and resilience.
We look forward to learning more and sharing other replicable ideas and projects at the 2017 PBI Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 8-10. If you would like to be a presenter, please submit a brief proposal describing your initiative to Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson. (Due to time and capacity limitations, we may not be able to accept all proposals this year.)
* denotes a Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®
† denotes a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project