The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It

Annual Conference

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

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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.

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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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January 20, 2016

2016 PBI Annual Conference: In-House Pro Bono: Top Ten Basics

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The PBEye invites in-house counsel and staff to join CPBO March 23-25 at the 2016 PBI Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. The Conference gives pro bono leaders from legal departments, law firms, and public interest organizations from around the world an opportunity to network and discuss ways to improve access to justice through pro bono.

For new leaders of existing programs or leaders of new programs, programming kicks off on the morning of March 23 with a revamped getting started session:

In-House Pro Bono: Top Ten Basics8:30 – 10:15 am
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 and new pro bono leaders of existing programs. Experienced legal department pro bono leaders will discuss the top 10 things you need to know about in-house pro bono, from insurance to selecting projects to leadership structure. Pre-registration is required.

Please keep in mind that pre-registration is required for this small workshop as space is limited and only available to those who are new pro bono leaders or leaders of new pro bono programs on a first-come, first-served basis, so register early!

Those who attend this session will join other in-house and law firm attendees at Regional Joint Networking Exchanges (10:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.) and Networking Lunch (11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.).  The In-House Track will resume at 1:15 p.m. with in-house specific sessions and networking opportunities.

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 e-mail.

January 7, 2016

Get in the Know at the Pro Bono Expo

Planning is well underway for the 2016 PBI Annual Conference, which will be held on March 23-25 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. 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. This year’s expanded Expo will take place at a new time: 4:00 p.m. – 5:15 p.m. on March 24. Mark your calendars – we hope to see you there.

Are there any particular organizations or topics you would like to see represented at the Expo? Would you like to apply to host a table? Space is limited, so please email Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson soon with your suggestions. If you have questions about the Conference or need assistance with registration, please email us or call 202.973.8720.

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December 3, 2015

Update: Pro Bono Matchmaking

NCPAs we’ve previously reported, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund’s (TLDEF) innovative Name Change Project helps transgender people overcome the legal obstacles to securing a name change. Earlier this summer, The PBEye interviewed TLDEF’s executive director, Michael Silverman, about the pro bono connections he’s made at the PBI Annual Conference, including his collaboration with Heidi Naasko of Dykema Gossett*† to expand the Name Change Project to Michigan.

We’re excited to report that after a six-month pilot program, TLDEF has officially launched the Name Change Project in the Detroit metro area and is now working with several other Michigan law firms. As Michael explains, “It is important for transgender people to be able to match their legal names with who they are. Doing so makes it easier for them to live their lives free from discrimination in things like employment, housing, and health care and other public accommodations.” Check out TLDEF’s press release and read compelling testimonials from clients about how aligning their legal names with their true selves has profoundly improved their lives.

As you can see, the PBI Annual Conference provides a unique opportunity for law firm and in-house attendees to make new connections and forge fruitful relationships with public interest organizations, leading to new opportunities for meaningful pro bono work. We are already looking forward to the 2016 PBI Annual Conference, which will be held on March 23-25 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C.

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

October 22, 2015

Request for Proposals

2016 ConfPlanning is underway for the 2016 PBI Annual Conference, which will be held on March 23 – 25 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. One of the perennial highlights of the Conference are the “Marketplace of Ideas” sessions, fast-paced opportunities for presenters to share cutting-edge pro bono projects and for attendees to learn about new opportunities, offerings, infrastructure, and other replicable pro bono developments. Presenters identify real-world legal needs and explain how their projects are successfully addressing them. Click here to read a summary of the 2015 Marketplace of Ideas presentations.

Interested in serving as a presenter? We invite you to submit a brief proposal describing your initiative so that we can ensure adequate time and capacity for all presentations. Please send submissions to Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson. Due to time limitations, we may not be able to accept all proposals this year.

We look forward to learning more and sharing new ideas and projects at the 2016 PBI Annual Conference!

June 25, 2015

Marketplace of Pro Bono Ideas: Part 2

The PBEye recently reportedMarketplace of Pro Bono Ideas--March 15 on some of the creative and replicable projects featured during the two Marketplace of Ideas sessions at the 2015 PBI Annual Conference. Here are a few more of the projects highlighted during these exciting sessions:

Jobseeker Legal Clinic
Heather Hodges discussed the Neighborhood Legal Services Program’s (NLSP) innovative Jobseeker Legal Clinic, which helps low-income individuals seeking employment overcome legal obstacles that may be barriers to successful job searches. Recognizing the need to “go where the clients are” and that public libraries are critical access points, NLSP formed a partnership with the District of Columbia Public Library to hold clinics and informational presentations at library branches around the city.

Clinic attendees meet one-on-one with attorneys at the library to address legal barriers to employment, such as criminal record sealing, credit reports, background checks, identity theft, homelessness, obtaining driving and professional licenses, and resolving back child support arrearages. Pro bono lawyers are also often able to help with issues related to workplace discrimination, recovering unpaid wages, tips, and overtime, and employment-related tax problems. The Jobseeker Legal Clinic is an effective model for addressing structural unemployment and related problems in our communities.

International Bar Association’s Anti-Trafficking Initiative
Rene Kathawala discussed Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe’s*† work with the International Bar Association’s Anti-Trafficking Initiative to prioritize markets for anti-trafficking training programs in 2015. The firm ultimately recommended six countries from among the 163 that signed the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking Persons, Especially Women and Children (commonly known as the Palermo Protocol) that would be ideal for anti-trafficking training programs for police officers, judges, and prosecutors.

The Orrick team did extensive research, vetting countries to assess their commitment to and compliance with the Palermo Protocol by prosecuting traffickers within the past five years and which had not been involved in significant training programs to minimize duplication of efforts, eventually narrowing the list down to, as requested, six countries – Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Hungary, Indonesia, Madagascar, and Niger. The team was comprised of 34 attorneys in 12 offices across the U.S., Asia, and Europe and is a prime example of “pro bono glue,” that is, how large-scale pro bono projects can be used to integrate the offices of a global law firm.

Juvenile Justice
Natalie Kraner described Lowenstein Sandler’s*† new pro bono initiative to reform the New Jersey juvenile justice system. The firm helped form a juvenile justice working group, bringing together prominent academics, nonprofits, and the Office of the Public Defender. The coalition has engaged in a number of advocacy and reform efforts.

Lowenstein Sandler attorneys and summer associates conducted a nationwide survey on the use of solitary confinement in juvenile facilities. Relying on this research, the coalition is seeking through executive and legislative advocacy to eliminate or reduce the use of punitive solitary confinement. The group has also engaged in impact litigation challenging transfers from juvenile custody to adult prisons. Additionally, it regularly hosts roundtable discussions with various stakeholders − including police, corrections officers, prosecutors, public defenders, parents of children in the justice system, young adults who were in the system, legislators, and judges − to discuss and initiate reforms.

Through this work, the coalition has attracted the attention of national foundations that will help sponsor a multi-year campaign with the twin goals of creating viable alternatives to incarceration and more humane treatment for juveniles in state custody.

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Check out our full recap of the 2015 Marketplace of Ideas sessions in this month’s edition of The Pro Bono Wire. We look forward to learning more and sharing other replicable ideas and projects at the 2016 PBI Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 23-25. We invite those wishing to serve as a presenter to submit a brief proposal describing your initiative so that we can ensure adequate time and capacity for all presentations. Please send submissions to Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson. (Due to time 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

June 11, 2015

Pro Bono Matchmaking

tldefWe can’t believe it’s already been three months since pro bono leaders from law firms, legal departments, and public interest organizations from around the world gathered in Washington, D.C. for the 2015 PBI Annual Conference to share ideas on how to enhance the performance, efficiency, and effectiveness of their pro bono efforts. Each year, law firm and in-house attendees make new connections and forge fruitful relationships with public interest organizations during the Pro Bono Expo Lunch and other networking opportunities throughout the Conference.

For example, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) has attended the Conference for the past two years and has used the event as an opportunity to expand the scope of its Name Change Project.

We’ve previously reported on this Project’s inspiring work. We recently spoke with Michael Silverman, TLDEF’s executive director, about the new pro bono connections he’s made at the Conference and how they’ve helped expand TLDEF’s reach:

The PBEye: Can you tell me about how you started working with Dykema Gossett*† in Michigan?

M.S.: Two years ago I met Heidi Naasko when we spoke on a panel together. I stayed in touch with Heidi and reached out to some of my contacts in the transgender and larger LGBT community in Michigan about the need for legal assistance with name changes. Jointly, we decided that we were going to take a shot at launching a Name Change Project in Michigan. Dykema lawyers took our preexisting handbook for New York and translated it into Michigan practice. Once we got a few community members through the process, we opened it up to more people and now the Project is fully functioning.

The PBEye: What are your future plans in Michigan?

M.S.: The next step is probably going to be in the fall. We plan to have a Detroit area training for attorneys, not just from Dykema, but from the other large law firms in the area interested in participating in the Project. We are clearly sensing a need in the community.

The PBEye: We’ve also heard that you are working with Alston & Bird*†. Can you discuss how that developed?

M.S.: I had a similar experience at the Conference this year with Cheryl Naja from Alston & Bird in Atlanta. Cheryl and I spoke on a panel together about storytelling and it’s just a testament to what a great networking opportunity the Conference is. We stayed in touch after the Conference and I asked if she thought anybody at the firm would be interested in helping us serve the transgender community in Atlanta. Cheryl was absolutely gung-ho about it and immediately pulled in key players from her firm who were similarly enthusiastic. We had our first meeting a couple of weeks ago and have already begun serving clients in Atlanta. We’ll be spreading the word about the Project in the community and training more lawyers soon. We already have enough interest from people to sense that this is moving forward with real momentum.

Michael’s experience at the Conference is a prime example of how the event can serve as the source of long-term relationships, which lead to new opportunities for meaningful and innovative pro bono work. We are looking forward to what the 2016 PBI Annual Conference, which will be held in Washington, D.C., on March 23-25, has in store.

If your firm or legal department is interested in getting involved with the Name Change Project, contact TLDEF. To learn more about the struggle for transgender rights, check out “The Quest for Transgender Equality,” a recent New York Times editorial series that featured TLDEF’s work.

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

This interview has been condensed and edited for space.

May 28, 2015

Marketplace of Pro Bono Ideas

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The 2015 PBI Annual Conference featured two dynamic “Marketplace of Ideas” sessions, during which attendees learned about new opportunities, offerings, 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. A few of the projects featured include:

Health Justice Partnerships
Fiona McLeay discussed the Health Justice Partnership (HJP) model of legal services delivery in Australia. HJP is a holistic model of collaboration to provide better health outcomes and access to justice, similar to the Medical-Legal Partnership model in the U.S. McLeay described how her organization, Justice Connect, identifies unmet legal needs in a community and develops partnerships to address them.

For example, Justice Connect’s Seniors Law program helps the elderly age with dignity and respect by reducing the incidence of elder abuse. They originally developed a clinic-based approach for the program, but this strategy was unsuccessful due to the breadth and complexity of the problem. After extensive research and data analysis, they determined that elder abuse was, in fact, happening, but various factors, such as reluctance to disclose information to lawyers and being homebound, posed barriers to the provision of legal services. Justice Connect consequently adopted the HJP model of legal services for Seniors Law, which has allowed them to better identify legal issues and serve potential clients.

Legal Aid Academy
Julie LaEace of Kirkland & Ellis*† shared the firm’s contributions to the Chicago Bar Foundation’s Legal Aid Academy, a program designed to improve training and professional development opportunities for attorneys and staff working for legal services providers. Building on its elaborate and pioneering in-house trial advocacy trainings (including lectures, workshops, and mock trials that take place as part of the nationally renowned “Kirkland Institute for Trial Advocacy (KITA)”), to which Kirkland invites legal aid attorneys as appropriate, the firm’s training and development team created a customized two-day deposition skills program for legal aid attorneys. The intensive program was taught by veteran legal aid attorneys and Kirkland partners. The firm hired actors to serve as witnesses and court reporters were present to heighten the experiential learning. In addition to providing significant and tailored training to the participants, the program gave Kirkland partners and legal aid attorneys a greater appreciation for the other’s practice.

Building and Sustaining Clinics
Leah Medway described how Perkins Coie*† developed its Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) clinic and discussed how the clinic model can be used effectively. She identified three keys to success: (1) having strong partnerships with legal services providers; (2) having ample administrative support within the firm; and (3) strategically using technology to achieve growth and maximize outcomes. Perkins Coie partnered with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) to create and administer its twice-monthly DACA clinics. NWIRP prescreens all clients for eligibility. Firm pro bono attorneys have access to the expertise of an experienced immigration lawyer, as a NWIRP representative is present on-site at each clinic. There is strong administrative support for the clinic within the firm, with an enthusiastic associate who spearheads the initiative and a clinic coordinator. Finally, with the help of the firm’s IT department, an attorney developed a program that auto-populates forms and the firm is beta-testing a website that would allow clients to enter relevant information prior to meeting with an attorney. The clinic is positioned to expand even further to efficiently serve a larger volume of clients.

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Be on the lookout for the full recap of the 2015 Marketplace of Ideas sessions in The Pro Bono Wire. We look forward to learning more and sharing other replicable ideas and projects at the 2016 PBI Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 23-25.

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

 

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