The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It

Law Firm Pro Bono

September 7, 2017

Join Today!

Over 100 law firms have become Law Firm Pro Bono Project members for 2017-2018.  These firms have publically demonstrated their leadership and commitment to pro bono and access to justice.

As a member firm, you will have exclusive access to resources to help ensure the health and vitality of your pro bono program, such as expert  (confidential) consultative services; discounted registration for every individual from your firm attending the PBI Annual Conference; free webinars; and access to the Project’s members-only section of our Resource Clearinghouse. Our customized advice can help your firm develop or restructure its pro bono governance and staffing, engage in strategic planning, establish a pro bono project with a corporate client, enhance your use of pro bono as a training, professional development, and retention tool, and more. Check out our member benefits page for details on these and other valuable benefits.

Submit your firm’s enrollment form by mail or join online:

Please contact Law Firm Project Assistant Elysse DeRita, if you have any questions.

We look forward to welcoming your law firm as a member soon!

August 31, 2017

A Salute to Laborers

Labor Day is often spent as the last relaxing Monday before jumping into a new school year and saying goodbye to long, warm summer nights. Yet, it is important to take a moment to recognize the significance of this holiday; it honors the American Labor Movement and all the contributions that workers have made to the prosperity, strength, and well-being of this country.

Although immense progress has been made, many work environments are far from perfect. Racism, discrimination, and the wage-gap persist. Pro bono lawyers have a critical role to play in protecting workers’ rights and helping workers secure fairer wages, benefits, schedules, hours, safer conditions, and equality for all in the workplace. Inspiring, recent examples of labor and employment-related pro bono work performed by Law Firm Pro Bono Project member firms and Challenge® signatories include:

  • Covington & Burling,* the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the American Federation of Teachers, represented more than 350 Filipino teachers against a California recruiting firm that lured them to teach in Louisiana public schools, cheated them out of tens of thousands of dollars, and forced them into exploitive contracts. Following a trial against the recruiting firm, the jury awarded $4.5 million in damages.
  • Latham & Watkins*and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee sued Tito Contractors, a Washington, D.C.-area contracting company, on behalf of current and former employees, for failing to pay its employees overtime wages. Most, if not all, of the employees were first or second generation immigrants from Central and South America. The case was litigated over several years and, ultimately, back wages were secured for 25 employees.
  • Munger, Tolles & Olson*†, Public Counsel, and the ACLU obtained a settlement that will protect farm workers and promote agricultural workplace safety in California by improving the enforcement of California’s heat-illness-prevention regulations. As a result, workers now have the ability to report heat regulation violations to the CAL/OSHA under newly established procedures and there will be more robust inspections of outdoor worksites during heat waves.
  • Nutter McClennen & Fish*summer associates, supervised by junior associates, represent eligible clients seeking unemployment compensation in hearings before a Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Division of Unemployment Assistance hearing officer.

Significant progress has been made over the years on behalf of workers, but there is still much to be accomplished – securing a living wage for all, workplace safety, closing the gender pay gap; the list goes on. Let’s be grateful this holiday weekend for the progress we have made, but let’s not be satisfied when there is more to be done.

Hat tip to PBI intern Kelsey Muniz for her help with this post.

* denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Signatory

† denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Project® Member

August 21, 2017

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday

An experienced immigration attorney in Philadelphia, Valentine Brown leads the pro bono program at Duane Morris*†. She recently spoke with us about the firm’s pro bono work, including efforts on behalf of immigrants, veterans, “juvenile lifers,” and more. Learn what motiviated a pro bono client to write: “My attorneys became and still are my best friends.  They are compassionate human beings, who understand perfectly the intricacies of the law and are aware of the stress that legal proceedings can have on an individual.” Take 45 minutes to listen to PBI’s interview with Valentine on the latest episode of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour.

Subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts and be sure to leave a review! We’d appreciate the feedback and it would help us expand the conversation about pro bono and access to justice. The podcast is also available on YouTube. Links to all of our episodes can be found here.

Listen along and let us know what you think. Send your comments, thoughts, feedback, questions, and suggestions to probono@probonoinst.org. Be warned: we might just read them on the air.

* denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

† denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Project® member

August 17, 2017

Why Pay More?

Dozens of law firms have become Law Firm Pro Bono Project members for 2017-2018.  These firms have publically demonstrated their leadership and commitment to pro bono and access to justice.

As a member firm, you will have exclusive access to resources to help ensure the health and vitality of your pro bono program, such as expert (confidential) consultative services; discounted registration for every individual from your firm attending the PBI Annual Conference; free webinars; and access to the Project’s members-only section of our Resource Clearinghouse. Our customized advice can help your firm develop or restructure its pro bono governance and staffing, engage in strategic planning, establish a pro bono project with a corporate client, enhance your use of pro bono as a training, professional development, and retention tool, and more. Check out our member benefits page for more details on these and other valuable benefits.

Submit your firm’s enrollment form or join online before September 1 to receive a 10% discount:

Please contact Law Firm Project Assistant Elysse DeRita, if you have any questions.

We look forward to welcoming your law firm as a member soon!

August 14, 2017

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday

McDermott Will & Emery’s*†  Elizabeth Lewis focuses on the firm’s pro bono and community service initiatives. A “full service law firm,” McDermott’s pro bono program is known for its advocacy for LGBTQ individuals, its work representing Sikh soldiers in practicing their religion through a US Army rules change, and more. Elizabeth, the firm’s Pro Bono and community Service Partner, says she is “inspired by [McDermott] lawyers” and gets to see the good in humanity every day. Take 45 minutes to listen to Elizabeth share some of her special experiences representing children and families on the latest episode of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour. Based in Chicago, she also reveals whether she is a Cubs or White Sox fan.

 Subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts and be sure to leave a review! We’d appreciate the feedback and it would help us expand the conversation about pro bono and access to justice. The podcast is also available on YouTube. Links to all of our episodes can be found here.

Listen along and let us know what you think. Send your comments, thoughts, feedback, questions, and suggestions to probono@probonoinst.org. Be warned: we might just read them on the air.

August 10, 2017

Is Bigger Better?

In June, PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project released its 2016 Report on the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®, which examines the pro bono activities of Challenge signatories.

We’ve previously shared highlights about law firm charitable giving to legal services organizations, pro bono time devoted to those of limited means and attorney participation rates. 2016 marked the second year that we analyzed pro bono performance by firm size. Firms with headcounts of more than 1,000 attorneys had the highest average pro bono percentage in 2016 (4.06%).

We also looked at average pro bono hours per attorney and attorney participation rates by firm size:

We are thankful to all signatories, regardless of headcount, for their service and pro bono leadership.

To learn more about the state of law firm pro bono, check out the complete Challenge Report, including analysis of the data, detailed graphs, and more. Also, tune in to the Law Firm Project’s discussion of the Report and Pro Bono: Beyond the Numbers on its podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour. If your firm of 50 or more lawyers would like to join the Challenge and become visible pro bono leaders, please contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Elysse DeRita.

August 7, 2017

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday

Rebecca Naylor has always been a passionate advocate for human rights. Becca manages the firm’s pro bono efforts in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia together with 70 champions at all levels throughout the firm. She spent 10-12 hour days assisting refugees in Greece and Jordan with her Reed Smith* colleagues. Take 40 minutes to listen to Becca talk about her experiences on the latest episode of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour.

Subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts and be sure to leave a review! We’d appreciate the feedback and it would help us expand the conversation about access to justice. The podcast is also available on YouTube. Links to all of our episodes can be found here.

Listen along and let us know what you think. Send your comments, thoughts, feedback, questions, and suggestions to probono@probonoinst.org. Be warned: we might just read them on the air.

* denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

† denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Project® member

August 3, 2017

Summer at PBI

From left to right: Madeline Jenks, Kelsey Muniz, Sahil Shah, and Erin Killeen.

Summer is flying by and The PBEye would like to thank our Sheehan Scholars and interns for their hard work over the past few months.

This summer, we welcomed our eighth class of Sheehan Scholars: Madeline Jenks (Harvard Law School) and Erin Killeen (Georgetown University Law Center). Bob Sheehan, who oversees the pro bono program at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom*†, former Executive Partner (1994-2009) and Co-Chair of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project Advisory Committee (2001-2015), and his family provided the financial support to launch this program in 2010, which has been named in his honor in recognition of his extraordinary pro bono leadership. We are grateful to the Sheehan family for their generosity and to Erin and Madeline for spending their summers with us. They were joined by two terrific undergraduates from the University of Michigan: Kelsey Muniz and Sahil Shah.

Our interns and Sheehan Scholars worked on a variety of projects – large and small – and you will continue to see the fruits of their labors in the weeks and months ahead. We are grateful for their diligence, dedication, and energy, and fresh perspectives. We are also appreciative of the firms and individuals who supported our summer program by inviting our interns and staff to events and donating time to provide additional professional development opportunities. And stay tuned: you’ll be hearing more about their time at PBI on an upcoming episode of our Pro Bono Happy Hour podcast.

* denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® signatory
† denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Project® member

July 31, 2017

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday

Don’t miss the latest episode of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour, featuring Theodore Howard of Wiley Rein*†. Ted talks to us about serving as the firm’s first full-time Pro Bono Partner, his pro bono work on behalf of inmates and prison reform efforts, the firm’s pro bono program, and more.

Subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts and be sure to leave a review! We’d appreciate the feedback and it would help us expand the conversation about access to justice. The podcast is also available on YouTube. Links to all of our episodes can be found here.

Listen along and let us know what you think. Send your comments, thoughts, feedback, questions, and suggestions to probono@probonoinst.org. Be warned: we might just read them on the air.

* denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® signatory
† denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Project® member

July 27, 2017

The Essence of Pro Bono

PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project released its annual Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge Report®, which examines the pro bono activities of Challenge signatories.

We’ve previously shared highlights and written about attorney pro bono participation rates and law firm charitable giving. Another takeaway from 2016 is the percentage of total pro bono time devoted to those of limited means and the organizations that serve them. The Challenge asks firms to devote “a majority” of their pro bono time  “to persons of limited means or to charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental, and educational organizations in matters which are designed primarily to address the needs of persons limited means” (Principal 3). In 2016, 69.1 percent of all pro bono time was devoted to those of limited means and the organizations that serve them. Again this year, we are pleased that this important Challenge goal is being met. Furthermore, this data helps expose as myth any perception that large law firms are not adequately supporting legal aid programs and that they should do more before additional resources and other funding streams, particularly public ones, are tapped.

Check out the complete Challenge Report, including analysis of the data, detailed graphs, and more. And, tune in to the Law Firm Project’s discussion of the Report in Pro Bono: Beyond the Numbers , a recent episode of its podcast: the Pro Bono Happy Hour.

If your firm of 50 or more lawyers would like to join the Challenge and become visible pro bono leaders, please contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Elysse DeRita.