The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It

Annual Conference

December 18, 2014

Expo Lunch: Let’s Eat and Greet!

Planning is well underway for the 2015 PBI Annual Conference, which will be held on March 4-6 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. In addition to thought-provoking and inspiring sessions and programs, we are excited about the ever-popular Pro Bono Expo Lunch. A variety of prominent organizations will be hosting tables, and their expert representatives 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 opportunity to network, forge productive relationships and partnerships with public interest organizations from across the U.S. and around the world, and develop major pro bono initiatives.


Are there any particular organizations or topics you would like to see represented at the Expo? Please email Law Firm Project Assistant Eva Richardson with your suggestions. If you have questions about the Conference or need assistance with registration, please email us or call 202.973.8720.

Mark your calendars – we hope to see you there!

May 29, 2014

Marketplace of Pro Bono Ideas: Part 2

annual conference 2014The 2014 PBI Annual Conference featured three dynamic “Marketplace of Ideas” sessions, during which participants shared information on cutting-edge pro bono projects and attendees learned about new opportunities, offerings, infrastructure, and other creative and replicable pro bono developments.

The PBEye reported last week on some of the global projects featured during these sessions. Here are two more of the innovative projects that were highlighted:

Crime Victim Rights Advocacy
Heidi Naasko from Dykema Gossett*† described her experience advocating for the rights of crime victims and shined a spotlight on an area ripe for pro bono development. Under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, victims in federal criminal cases have various rights, such as the right to protection from the accused, the right to attend proceedings, and the right to restitution. While representing a group of Central American children involved in human trafficking, Naasko fought to ensure that her clients could be present at the sentencing of their trafficker and that they received restitution. Pro bono attorneys are vital in these cases because other players in the justice system may not properly defend the rights of a victim, or even be aware of them. Additionally, crime victims need attorneys who can take into consideration the depth of their losses and protect their interests with appropriate sensitivity.

In addition to being personally rewarding, representing victims offers tremendous professional development opportunities for litigators. Potential cases can be found through the courts or the National Crime Victim Law Institute.

Name Change Project
Michael Silverman discussed the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund’s (TLDEF) innovative Name Change Project, which helps transgender people overcome the legal obstacles to securing a name change. For many transgender people, obtaining a legal name change is an important step toward making their legal identities match lived experience, but interaction with the court system and judges is a foreign and intimidating experience for many people. A lack of appropriate identity documents can deter people from applying for jobs, school, and public benefits, and can lead to discrimination. By providing eligible individuals with pro bono legal representation, the Project ensures that clients can successfully complete the process and move forward with their lives.

While the initiative was small in scale at first, more than 30 law firms and legal departments are now involved. The work is an attractive pro bono opportunity for many lawyers, both litigators and non-litigators, since it is a time-limited commitment. The Project is currently expanding beyond New York to Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin.


Check out the full recap of the 2014 Marketplace of Ideas sessions in the May 2014 edition of The Pro Bono Wire! We look forward to learning more and sharing other replicable ideas and projects at the 2015 PBI Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 4-6.

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

May 21, 2014

2014 Pro Bono Marketplace of Ideas: Global

The 2014 PBI Annual Conference featured three fast-paced “Marketplace of Ideas” sessions, including one dedicated to global pro bono projects. During these sessions, participants shared experiences and attendees learned about new opportunities, offerings, and other global pro bono developments.

The PBEye is pleased to share these ideas with the hope that they may serve to guide and inspire others to think creatively, strategically, and collaboratively about future pro bono projects. A few of the projects featured include:

Submissions to U.N. on Behalf of Nonprofits

Dianne Heins of Faegre Baker Daniels*† discussed her firm’s work in bringing international attention to human rights issues through submissions of human rights reports at the U.N. The goal is to expand the capacity of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to advocate at the U.N. on these issues.

Faegre works with civil society groups to help prepare and submit a stakeholders report to the U.N. Human Rights Council. This report informs a dialogue in which Council members question the country’s representatives on their human rights record.

In addition, Faegre recently submitted three reports on Cameroon in connection with its review under The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

International Legal Network

Anne-Françoise Meeùs discussed her role as coordinator of the International Legal Network (ILN) of Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF). ASF has changed its focus from direct pro bono representation of individual clients in Africa to capacity-building of local NGOs so they can provide quality legal services to serve local needs. ILN projects involve lawyers in larger ongoing ASF projects. It’s not just a case of participating in a one-time training but rather a training event that continues through a larger project financed by institutional donors such as UKAID, USAID, or EU.

Genocide Prevention and Holocaust-Looted Art

Owen Pell of White & Case*† discussed several pro bono projects he has been working on in genocide prevention and Holocaust-looted property, particularly art. Pell described the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR), the main organization recognized by the U.N. for genocide prevention.

Pell noted that Holocaust looting, including Holocaust-looted art, is an area where pro bono lawyers can make a big difference. His work has included proposals for title-clearing and a dispute resolution entity to address claims relating to Holocaust-looted art.


Look out for more information on other innovative pro bono projects featured during our Marketplace of Ideas session in the May edition of The Pro Bono Wire! We look forward to learning more and sharing other replicable ideas and projects at the 2015 PBI Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 4-6. We invite those wishing to serve as presenters to submit brief proposals in advance describing their initiatives to ensure adequate planning and capacity. Please send submissions to Law Firm Pro Bono Project Director Tammy Taylor (due to time limitations, we may not be able to accept all proposals).

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

March 26, 2014

Guest Blog: Repeat In-House Attendee – PBI Annual Conference

I have been attending the PBI Annual Conference for several years and have had the opportunity to present to and speak with many of the participants. However, this year was a truly unique experience for me.

The first thing that struck me was the increased number of familiar faces. Based on my observations, it seemed like more and more people were refreshing connections. While making new connections is a key component of this Conference, having these established connections allowed participants to jump straight into a higher level of conversation. Instead of being asked “What type of projects are you doing?” I heard questions like “How is that new project that you kicked off last year doing?” The result was deeper discussions around successes and obstacles. And, instead of just nods of understanding, I heard more recommendations for overcoming those obstacles.

Seeing all of this in just the first few hours of the Conference, I decided to take a detour into the “In-House Pro Bono: The Basics” session for those starting or re-launching a pro bono program. While Hewlett-Packard Company** is definitely not in this category, I thought it would be nice to be a fly on the wall and hear how more and more companies are creating programs. When I walked into the room, I immediately noticed how much smaller this space was compared to when I first attended this session several years ago. To my surprise, only a few attendees were actually from companies starting brand-new programs. In fact, there were several “flies” like me at this session. This was a pleasure for me to see knowing how much bigger the “established program” session was in comparison and relative to my first year attending the Conference.

There has been a shift, and it is monumental. As a representative of the in-house community, I am proud to see that in-house attorneys are becoming more involved in pro bono and becoming experts in this area. I am also excited to see the evolution of the PBI Annual Conference as many of us begin to advance into “graduate-level” topics. And for those of you that are just starting out, there is now more knowledge and experience than ever before that you can leverage. This is a win for us, a win for PBI, and most importantly a win for the communities that we live in and serve.

Todd Tabor is Associate General Counsel, HP Enterprise Security Products and created HP’s DC Area Pro Bono program.

**denotes a Signatory to the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge®

March 20, 2014

Collaborative Pro Bono: Channeling Change and Better Outcomes

Photo: FSG, Inc.

Photo: FSG, Inc.

Earlier this month, PBI hosted a panel of distinguished experts and experienced collaborators at the closing plenary session of its 2014 Annual Conference.  The panel, moderated by PBI President and CEO Esther F. Lardent, included:

• Valerie Bockstette – FSG, Inc.

• Lisa Dewey – DLA Piper*†

• Fred Goldberg – Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom*†

• David March – Target Corporation**

The panelists discussed how persistently scarce resources and shrinking legal aid budgets coupled with vast unmet legal needs require innovative, multi-institutional pro bono efforts.   One highlight was Bockstette’s informative presentation about FSG’s framework, “Collective Impact,” critical aspects of which include: common agenda; shared measurement; mutually-reinforcing activities; continuous communication; and backbone organization.

Following the opening panel, each facilitator led a discussion group where attendees explored opportunities for collaboration in different hypothetical situations.  The four groups – affordable housing, education, veterans, and immigration – explored their overarching goals, what metrics and data should be used to demonstrate progress in meeting those goals, anticipated obstacles, and the entities and other organizations that should play a productive role in a successful collaboration.

This year’s cutting-edge and thought-provoking closing session provided attendees from law firms, legal departments, public interest organizations, courts, and law schools with critical information about collaborations and innovations that can reshape, retool, and enhance access to justice.  If you were a Conference attendee and would like to obtain the FSG PowerPoint slides, please contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson.

We look forward to continuing the discussion at the 2015 PBI Annual Conference on March 4 – 6, in Washington, D.C. and hope to see you there.

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

February 28, 2014

Global Pro Bono: Best Practices – March 6

This is the last of a series of posts detailing upcoming 2014 PBI Annual Conference sessions focused on global pro bono practice.  Having previously focused on international elements of the Pro Bono Expo Lunch and the new “Marketplace of Ideas: Global” session, we now turn to a recurring global pro bono favorite, the “Global Pro Bono: Best Practices” session.  This session is back by popular demand following successful iterations of this particular global session in 2012 and 2011 as well as a history of global pro bono-oriented sessions dating back to the inception of the Annual Conference.

This session takes place on Thursday, March 6, at 4:00 p.m., and will explore the practical nuts and bolts of turning a global pro bono concept into a reality.  Emphasis will be placed on the methodology of vetting and securing global pro bono projects.  If you have an idea for a new global pro bono project but are uncertain as to how to move forward, you won’t want to miss it!

February 27, 2014

Conference Sneak Peek: Juvenile Justice


The 2014 PBI Annual Conference is just around the corner and one of this year’s highlights is a session about juvenile justice.  Although much of the Conference is built around peer-to-peer learning, we have expert-led sessions as well.  “Pro Bono in Practice” sessions bring together those involved in a particular substantive area of public interest practice to explore the status of available pro bono opportunities, strategic approaches, opportunities for collaboration, and how to get started.

The session will be moderated by Mary Benton, pro bono partner at Alston & Bird, who will discuss the Truancy Intervention Project Georgia (TIP), which pairs pro bono volunteers with children and their families to fight chronic absenteeism.  Joining Mary are two experts from prominent public interest organizations.  Marsha Levick is the deputy director and chief counsel at the Juvenile Law Center, which is based in Philadelphia and has become a national advocate for children’s rights, working across the country to promote the rights of children who come into contact with the justice and child welfare systems.  Rounding out the panel is Patti Puritz, executive director of the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC), which leads the national debate over juvenile crime and works to improve access to counsel and quality of representation for children in the justice system.

Join us on March 6 from 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. to learn about critical legal issues of the day related to juvenile justice and how pro bono volunteers can get involved and make a difference.  If you have questions, please send us an e-mail.  We look forward to seeing you next week!

February 25, 2014

The Polar Vortex and Pro Bono

This winter, Americans across the country have faced extreme weather as streets became covered in ice and mounds of snow and temperatures and wind chills dropped to record lows.  Many of us have complained about this seemingly endless winter, but we’ve also had the privilege of being able to stay warm in our homes and offices.  We at The PBEye have tried to remember to be sensitive to the needs of others.

According to government data, more than 600,000 Americans are homeless on any given night and approximately 700 homeless people die from hypothermia each year.  While many cities guarantee housing for any homeless person on “hypothermia nights,” shelters have been overflowing and officials have had to scramble to find basic accommodations for individuals and families in need.

The extreme weather is a wakeup call.  In collaboration with homeless advocates, pro bono attorneys can lead the charge to find solutions to the complex problem of pervasive homelessness.  Whether our efforts are directed toward helping homeless youth; counseling nonprofits that work to end homelessness; staffing legal clinics at shelters; advocating for affordable housing in our communities; or engaging in holistic, community-wide efforts, we can’t remain on the sidelines.  Let’s channel our annoyance with the weather into positive and meaningful change.

Want to learn more?  Join us in Washington for the 2014 PBI Annual Conference.  During the Pro Bono Expo Lunch on Thursday, March 6, the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP) will be leading a provocative discussion about a disturbing trend:  the criminalization of homelessness.  For more information, please call 202.973.8720.

February 21, 2014

Marketplace of Ideas: Global — March 6

Untitled_whiteWe are getting excited for the 2014 PBI Annual Conference  and hope you are too!  One of the perennial highlights of the Conference is the “Marketplace of Ideas” session, a fast paced opportunity for presenters to share unique or replicable pro bono projects.  Presenters identify real-world legal needs and explain how their projects are successfully addressing them.  In response to positive feedback, we have added a third Marketplace session to address unique or replicable global pro bono projects.  This session takes place on Thursday, March 6 at 1:30–2:30 p.m., and will feature topics such as:

  • Assisting nonprofits with submissions of reports to the U.N.;
  • Supporting a Cambodian nonprofit on behalf of dispossessed villagers with respect to land rights; and
  • Resolving claims regarding art works stolen during the Holocaust.

If you are interested in hearing about new ideas in the world of global pro bono, you won’t want to miss this new “Marketplace of Ideas: Global” session — we hope to see you there!

February 20, 2014

What’s New for Law Firm Conference Attendees?

networkingMaybe you’ve heard the kids on some popular TV commercials explain: “More is better!”  Well, we happen to agree.  This year, we have expanded programming and networking opportunities exclusive to law firm attendees. The Law Firm Welcome Lunch – What’s Next? The Future of BigLaw and Law Firm Pro Bono at noon on March 5 will offer, for the first time, an opportunity for all law firm participants to start their substantive Conference experience together.  Join us to receive compelling insights from today’s most influential leaders in law, innovation, and pro bono.  Potential discussion topics may include:

  • Major shifts in hiring practices, attorney headcount, demographics, recruitment, and compensation
  • New approaches to professional development, advancement, and project management
  • Globalization
  • New generations of law firm leadership and sources of power and control
  • Shifts in billing arrangements and relationships with corporate clients

How do these and other trends impact law firm pro bono? Come and join the discussion with our distinguished panel of experts.

Immediately following the opening program will be the Law Firm Networking Dessert and Coffee.  Another innovation, this hour is a dedicated time for you to meet or reconnect with other law firm attendees and to share experiences, explore legal needs and opportunities for collaboration, and to discuss and learn about issues of particular interest.

Feel free to e-mail us if you have any questions.  To learn more about other sessions and the full event schedule, please view the law firm agenda.

Whether you are new to the Conference or an event veteran, we hope that you will enjoy these new opportunities exclusively-designed for law firm attendees.  Bring your appetite, questions, and observations!

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