The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It

Annual Conference

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.


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


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.


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


March 18, 2015

Verrilli, Kramer Offer Insight Into the Future of Pro Bono

PBI’s 2015 Annual Conference, held March 4-6 at the Capital Hilton, welcomed more than 300 professionals from law firms, legal departments, and public interest organizations from around the world.

Preceding a day full of educational sessions and networking opportunities, attendees gathered to hear from this year’s Opening Plenary guest speakers: U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verilli and FSG Co-founder and Managing Director Mark Kramer. Verilli emphasized the ethical obligation and professional incentives lawyers have to do pro bono, while Kramer discussed the benefits of using the collective impact model to create better client outcomes. Both guests provided examples of how effectively using pro bono skills, both individually and collectively, can make a significant impact in the communities where we live and work.

View Verrilli and Kramer’s full remarks below.

February 26, 2015

Lunch and Learn at the Pro Bono Expo

Expo picThe 2015 PBI Annual Conference is less than a week away and The PBEye is excited to provide a sneak peek of the public interest organizations that will be featured at the Pro Bono Expo Lunch on Thursday, March 5. We have a record-number of prominent table hosts this year, 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 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.

Among the organizations hosting tables next Thursday are:

Center for Reproductive Rights

Children’s Law Center

Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles

Medical-Legal Partnership | Boston

Public Interest Law Initiative

We’ll also have tables dedicated to discussing the “state of pro bono” in Australia, Brazil, and Singapore. If you have questions about the Conference, please email us or call 202.973.8720. We hope to see you soon!

February 25, 2015

New Programming for Law Firm and In-House Attendees

2015AC-Header-WebWe’re getting excited for the upcoming PBI Annual Conference and we hope you are too! This year, we have expanded programming and networking opportunities exclusive to law firm and in-house attendees. The Joint Opening Lunch at 11:45 a.m. on March 4 will offer, for the first time, an opportunity for law firm and in-house attendees to kick-off their substantive Conference experience together. The following distinguished panel of experts will provide insights about the forces and trends that will shape the legal profession and the future of pro bono:

Mark Chandler, Cisco Systems, Inc.**
Greg Jordan, The PNC Financial Services Group**
Kim Koopersmith, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld*†
Mark Wasserman, Sutherland Asbill & Brennan*†
David Wilkins, Harvard Law School

Join us to explore developments in the economics and practice of law at major firms and in-house legal departments and how they may impact pro bono.

Also new this year for law firm and in-house attendees are Regional Joint Networking Exchanges, which offer dedicated time for you to meet or reconnect with pro bono leaders from your geographic region or global home base to share experiences, explore legal needs and opportunities for collaboration, and to discuss issues of particular interest to your specific communities. The networking starts at 10:30 a.m. on March 4 – don’t miss out!

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 and in-house attendees. Bring your appetite, questions, and observations!

If you have questions about the Conference, please email us or call 202.973.8720.

* 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 19, 2015

Conference Sneak Peek: Criminal Justice

The 2015 PBI Annual Conference is quickly approaching and one of this year’s highlights is a session about criminal 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.

Pro Bono in Practice: Criminal Justice will be moderated by Lisa Borden of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz*†, who is a leader in addressing the issue of criminal justice debt. The panel will also feature two experts from prominent public interest organizations. Nancy Anderson will join us from Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which has led the recruitment of large law to participate in the Clemency Project. Rounding out the panel is Lauren-Brooke Eisen of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, which works to improve the criminal justice system, focusing on issues such as reducing mass incarceration and ensuring racial equality.

Join us on March 5 from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. to learn about critical legal issues of the day related to criminal justice and how pro bono volunteers can get involved and make a difference. If you have questions, please send us an email. We look forward to seeing you soon!

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

denotes a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project

February 12, 2015

Welcome to Law Firm Pro Bono!

lf101Has your firm, of more than 50 lawyers, recently created or restructured a formal pro bono program? Is your firm planning to do so in 2015? Are you a newly-appointed managing partner, practice group or office leader, pro bono committee chair or member, pro bono counsel, partner, director, manager, or coordinator? If so, join us bright and early on March 4 for Law Firm Pro Bono 101 to jumpstart the 2015 PBI Annual Conference.

We know that leading a law firm pro bono program can be overwhelming, particularly when you are relatively new to the position or if the program is undergoing a reboot, and we are here to help! Law Firm Pro Bono 101 offers a crash course on the basics of structuring, implementing, and administering successful law firm pro bono programs. Law Firm Pro Bono Project staff members will also be available to provide participants individualized tips for navigating the Conference in order to maximize the experience, and introduce attendees to the resources and support available from the Project all year round. This interactive pre-Conference session is particularly helpful for first-time attendees.

This year, we are offering Law Firm Pro Bono 101 at no extra charge. Pre-registration is required for this program, so please email or call 202.973.8720 to enroll or to confirm your registration status.

Don’t miss out on this popular session. We hope to see you there!

February 4, 2015

2015 PBI Annual Conference: In-House Pro Bono: Growing Your In-House Pro Bono Program


Are you headed to this year’s PBI Annual Conference to be held March 4-6 in Washington, D.C.? For in-house counsel and other legal department staff, this year’s programming kicks off on the morning of March 4. The programming carries a broad appeal, with topics ranging from developing programs to those whose programs are more mature. One such in-house specific session has been designed for those who are looking to bring their pro bono program to the next level:

In-House Pro Bono: Growing Your In-House Pro Bono Program4:15 – 6:00 pm
You successfully launched your in-house pro bono program. What comes next? This session will consider new opportunities for in-house pro bono programs, addressing common challenges in-house departments encounter as they move beyond the start-up phase to growing their departments’ pro bono programs, and offering new solutions on how to overcome them.

This session is just one of many in a full day of in-house specific programming. Other sessions for the day include topics on starting or reviving a pro bono program as well as how legal departments can influence pro bono developments outside their own company environment. 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 feel free to send us an e-mail. We hope to see you there!

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