The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It


May 19, 2016

Marketplace of Pro Bono Ideas

Marketplace of Pro Bono Ideas--March 15The 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.

Strategic Planning

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

April 1, 2016

Submit Nominations for the 2016 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award

CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award NominationCPBO is now accepting nominations for the 2016 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 November 3, 2016.

The 2015 recipients were:

A full list of previous awardees can be found here. To nominate a pro bono partnership, please complete a nomination form and submit a letter of nomination no later than May 20, 2016.

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


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

March 9, 2016

The State of Pro Bono Around the World, and New Global Resources

The 2016 PBI Annual Conference will offer many new and compelling sessions, including a timely discussion addressing global pro bono and possible obstacles to participation. The State of Pro Bono Around the World (Thursday, March 24, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.) will explore global pro bono practices, including differences in delivery structures, practice rules, national and local legal cultures, and the need for and availability of pro bono matters. Included in the discussion will be two soon-to-be-released resources:

  • the 2016 edition of the Latham & Watkins*† Survey of Pro Bono Practices and Opportunities, and
  • the new Global Due Diligence Manual.

We hope to see you at the session!

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


March 3, 2016

John Oliver Takes On Voting Rights

The presidential primaries are in full swing and The PBEye was pleased to see that John Oliver kicked off season three of Last Week Tonight with a timely segment about voting rights. He took aim at states that have implemented voting restrictions following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which weakened the Voting Rights Act. According to Oliver, “Since 2011, seven states have curtailed early voting and 13 have added requirements that voters show some kind of ID at the polls.”

After showing clips of state lawmakers claiming that these new voting requirements are simply common sense measures that will not affect a large number of people, Oliver is quick to point out that there are, in fact, many individuals who do not have identification and that the restrictions disproportionately affect minorities. He then proceeds to dismiss the argument that strict voter identification laws are necessary to combat voter fraud by showing that actual instances of voter impersonation are statistically insignificant.

As we have previously reported, pro bono lawyers are at the forefront of non-partisan legal efforts to ensure that all eligible voters have equal access to the ballot box and to cure legal flaws in the election system, which threaten the accuracy and legitimacy of the voting process. The quickly approaching 2016 PBI Annual Conference will feature a “Pro Bono in Practice” session, The Challenges of Citizenship: Election-Related Pro Bono Opportunities, on Thursday, March 24. Join us for a timely and wide-randing discussion of how pro bono efforts play important roles at all levels of the election protection, voting rights, and reform processes on Election Day and all year round.

As Oliver so aptly stated in his segment, “Voting is a right. If you take it away, you ruin democracy.” Check out the video and we hope to see you at the session.

February 26, 2016

2016 PBI Annual Conference: Revamped In-House Track

The 2016 PBI Annual Conference is right around the corner and, for in-house counsel, it’s shaping up to be an incredible lineup that offers attendees even more sessions than in years past!  This year’s Conference, March 23-25, at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C., will feature an in-house track that officially kicks-off for all in-house attendees on Wednesday, March 23 with a plenary session, Managing Risks Related to In-House Pro Bono. Afterward, attendees will have the option to attend the following sessions:

In-House Pro Bono: Communication and Recognition4:15 – 5:15 pm
Legal staff are bombarded constantly with competing information. This session will address ways to break through the noise. Topics will include internal and external messaging, utilizing social media, and recognition efforts that acknowledge, encourage, and inspire pro bono participation.

In-House Pro Bono: Increasing Impact4:15 – 5:15 pm
Formal in-house pro bono programs are becoming more common and sophisticated. This session is designed for those whose departments have longer-term pro bono programs, and will consider how departments can focus on driving participation and engagement while increasing impact in the community. It will include discussion on how legal departments can work together to achieve greater change.

In-House Pro Bono: Expanding Volunteer Engagement5:30 – 6:30 pm
Legal departments are made up of a variety of people – many of whom are not lawyers – and many companies employ lawyers in a number of departments, including compliance, contracts, and claims. Led by pro bono leaders in various roles, attendees at this session will brainstorm ways legal departments can engage volunteers throughout the company in its pro bono efforts.

In-House Pro Bono: Successful Pro Bono Projects, 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Panelists will discuss a variety of replicable, successful in-house pro bono projects. This session is designed for attendees leading newer pro bono programs or who are new to their position as pro bono leaders.

For new leaders of existing programs or leaders of new programs, programming begins that morning with In-House Pro Bono: Top Ten Basics from 8:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. (pre-registration is required). Wednesday morning will also feature the opportunity for in-house counsel to join their law firm counterparts at the Regional Joint Networking Exchanges (10:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.) and Networking Lunch (11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.) and to convene informally with one another at the In-House Pro Bono Meet and Greet (1:15 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.).

If you haven’t already, be sure to register for the Conference. To learn more about other sessions, please view the in-house agenda. If you have questions, please send us an


February 25, 2016

Mingle and Munch at the Pro Bono Expo

Expo picThe 2016 PBI Annual Conference will be here before we know it and The PBEye is excited to provide a sneak peek of the public interest organizations that will be featured at the Pro Bono Expo on Thursday, March 24. Table hosts will share emerging issues, strategies, and innovations; answer questions; and provide information about cutting-edge pro bono opportunities available to your law firm or legal department. This is a unique time to network, forge productive relationships and partnerships with public interest organizations from across the U.S. and around the world, and develop new pro bono initiatives.

This year, we are introducing a new time (4:00 to 5:15 p.m.) and format to facilitate learning and encourage table-hopping. Click here for a list of organizations that are hosting tables at the Pro Bono Expo.

If you have questions about the Conference, please email us or call 202.973.8720. We hope to see you soon.

February 18, 2016

Why Do Lawyers Volunteer?

LRR photo (s41884cc113985_11)We’re getting excited for the upcoming PBI Annual Conference and we hope you are too. This year, renowned lawyer-psychologist Dr. Larry Richard will lead the closing session on Friday, March 25, exploring why lawyers and staff do pro bono work and how to encourage them to get involved.

Dr. Richard, founder and principal consultant at LawyerBrain LLC, is recognized as the leading expert on the psychology of lawyer behavior and the “lawyer personality.” He has also advised dozens of law firms on leadership, management, and related issues such as teams, change management, talent selection, assessment, and other aspects of strategic talent management. As part of his scholarship, he has gathered personality data on thousands of lawyers.

Dr. Richard presented at the 2012 PBI Annual Conference to rave reviews. Here’s a sample of what attendees had to say:

“Dr. Richard was very entertaining but also had great substance with lots of takeaway information and ideas that are easily applicable to pro bono.”

“His examples were so helpful and so accurate and so relevant to our firms and our work.”

“Great way to end the Conference! Very motivating and interesting.”

“A very unique perspective on motivating attorneys. It was refreshing and insightful.”

Join us on March 25 – you don’t want to miss it. If you have questions about the Conference or need assistance with registration, please email us or call 202.973.8720.

February 11, 2016

Conference Sneak Peek: Law Firms Collaborating for Justice

The 2016 PBI Annual Conference is quickly approaching and one of this year’s highlights for law firm attendees is a session about collaborating on large-scale, multi-firm pro bono efforts.

Working Together: A Case Study in Collaborative Law Firm Pro Bono will feature an ambitious multi-firm effort to assist Indian citizens in pursuing claims of labor trafficking. After a federal judge refused to let the Southern Poverty Law Center’s law suit against Signal International, a marine services company that defrauded and exploited workers from India, go forward as a class action, nearly a dozen large law firms agreed to represent individuals on a pro bono basis. We encourage law firm attendees to join us on March 23 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. to learn about issues such as overcoming obstacles to collaboration, including joint ownership versus individual “credit,” disagreements over strategy, maximizing institutional resources and infrastructure while streamlining administration, use of technology, the role of public interest partners, and sustaining interest.

For additional background, check out our interview with John Fleming of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan*† on the Pro Bono Happy Hour, the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast featuring lively conversations about law firm pro bono, news, and best practices. John, who will be a panelist for the Conference session, discusses how Sutherland got involved, what it was like collaborating with other law firms, and more. You can subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour in iTunes and links to all of the episodes can be found here.

If you have questions about the Conference or need assistance with registration, please email us or call 202.973.8720. We look forward to seeing you in March!

* denotes a Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®
denotes a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project


January 22, 2016

2016 PBI Annual Conference: Addressing a Global Mass Migration Crisis (Pro Bono in Practice)

The 2016 PBI Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. is just two months away, and one of this year’s highlights is a session on mass migration. If you’ve been concerned about the international refugee crisis and wondered what you can do to help, you won’t want to miss it.

Nearly 60 million people are currently displaced from their homes by war and persecution — more than at any time since World War II. Half are children. Where are the lawyers? On March 24, the Addressing a Global Mass Migration Crisis (Pro Bono in Practice) session will provide an update on what’s being done to save lives and protect refugees, development, and legal migration and mobility and how pro bono lawyers can help.

If you haven’t already, be sure to register for the Conference, and save on fees if you do so by February 10th. If you have questions or need assistance with registration, please email us or call 202.973.8720.


January 21, 2016

May the Pro Bono Force Be With You – at the PBI Annual Conference (Part Two)

yoda.1Last week, inspired by “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” we shared some of Yoda’s wisdom and lessons for law firm pro bono. Today, we channel Yoda for three compelling reasons to attend the 2016 Pro Bono Institute Annual Conference (March 23-25) in Washington, DC:

“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not.”

Many mid-size law firms support accomplished, nimble, and sustained pro bono programs. What does the future hold for these firms? “Making Pro Bono Successful at Mid-Size Firms” (Wednesday, March 23) will explore best practices and the unique challenges and features of a mid-size firm. The discussion is custom designed for firms with fewer than 500 lawyers.

“You must unlearn what you have learned.”

Some in the pro bono community may still hold outdated assumptions about in-house pro bono. Skeptics will be disappointed to learn that interest and engagement in in-house pro bono continues to thrive and evolve. “Developments in In-House Pro Bono – Perspectives from Chief Legal Officers” (Thursday, March 24) will offer an overview of the state of in-house pro bono and will address the growth of pro bono within legal departments and what these developments mean for pro bono supporters at law firms, legal departments, and public interest organizations.

“In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.”

New to law firm pro bono? Don’t feel overwhelmed or in a dark place. You are not alone. Come early for “a little more knowledge.” “Law Firm Pro Bono 101” (Wednesday, March 23) is a pre-Conference bonus session designed for leaders at law firms that have recently created or restructured a formal pro bono program and for managing partners, pro bono committee chairs, pro bono partners, counsel, directors, managers, and coordinators who are new to their positions. This program offers a comprehensive, participatory crash course on the basics of structuring, implementing, and administering successful law firm pro bono programs. Law Firm Pro Bono Project staff members will introduce you to the resources and support available from the Project all year round. Pre-registration is required for this program. Space is limited and available on a first-come/first-served basis, so register today.

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If you have questions about the Conference or need assistance with registration, please email us or call 202.973.8720.


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