The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It

Pro Bono Partnerships

July 17, 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 Courtney Darts of the Pro Bono Partnership. Courtney talks to us about pro bono initiatives to support nonprofit organizations, transactional pro bono opportunities that strengthen communities, advice for aspiring public interest lawyers, 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.

September 20, 2016

Guest Blog: Boston Scientific Makes an Impact

We at The PBEye are inspired every day by the  Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatories. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the launch of the CPBO Challenge® initiative, we are showcasing some of their projects with the hope that they inspire you, too.

At Boston Scientific Corporation**, a global medicalboston-scientific-logo device company dedicated to transforming patient lives through innovative medical solutions, one of our credos is “Everyone Makes an Impact.” This statement rings true not only with respect to the company’s commitment to patient care but its philosophy on corporate citizenship, including contributions made through its pro bono program. Although Boston Scientific’s pro bono program is relatively young, it has already made a meaningful impact in its surrounding communities.

Boston Scientific’s legal department historically participated in pro bono activities, but in 2014, Tim Pratt, Boston Scientific’s Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer, General Counsel and Secretary, decided he wanted to do more. That year, Pratt commissioned the establishment of a pro bono committee to lay the foundation of a formal pro bono program within the company and signed Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® statement.  As noted by Pratt, “We are privileged to be members of this extraordinary legal profession, and we must never forget what inspired us to join it—the opportunity to help others in need.  In no group is that more important than for those who can’t help themselves because of their life circumstances or other challenges.  For them, we must be there to provide legal services, not just because it makes us feel good about ourselves, but also because it’s the right thing to do.  I exhort my lawyers to make an impact by engaging in pro bono activities.  It’s part of our Company’s mission of helping others.”

Since that time, the pro bono program has matured and developed several meaningful partnerships with various nonprofits and law firm partners located near our principal U.S. office locations in California, Massachusetts, and Minnesota. In California, Boston Scientific partners with the Alliance for Children’s Rights to provide legal assistance to children in need, including guardianship and immigration cases. In Massachusetts, where the company is headquartered, Boston Scientific is an annual participant in the Clinic in a Box® program co-sponsored by CPBO, the Northeast ACC Chapter, the Lawyers Clearinghouse, and Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo†*.  Boston Scientific also staffs legal clinics for the homeless sponsored by Lawyers Clearinghouse and has partnered with the Victim Rights Law Center, the first nonprofit legal center dedicated to providing legal representation to victims of rape and sexual assault. In Minnesota, the company partners with Faegre Baker Daniels†* to staff the Hennepin County Conciliation Court Clinic, which provides information and counseling services to pro se litigants.

Boston Scientific is happy to be one of many corporate legal departments giving back to their communities. Whether you have a large or small legal department, getting involved in pro bono is easy. CPBO has a variety of resources available to help you as well as information on the CPBO Challenge® initiative. Every pro bono hour contributed makes an impact!

Thank you, Boston Scientific Corporation, for contributing to The PBEye.

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

December 23, 2015

Verizon Returns to D.C. for its Third Clinic in a Box® Program in 2015

Verizon Clinic 1This year, Verizon Communications Inc.**, celebrating the fifth anniversary of the launch of its pro bono program, hosted three Clinic in a Box® Programs: Legal Audit in cities around the country: Dallas, Basking Ridge, New Jersey, and, on December 11, Washington, D.C. Co-hosted with CPBO and Verizon’s long-term pro bono partner DLA Piper*†, the clinics

engaged 59 in-house volunteers from Verizon and other legal departments, and assisted 16 nonprofit organizations. In D.C., Verizon, CPBO, and DLA were joined by the United Way of the National Capital Area, who invited local nonprofits to attend and receive legal services from in-house volunteers.

Eighteen attorneys and professional staff from the legal departments of Verizon and The Brookings Institution began the day with a one-and-a-half-hour CLE program. Led by expert attorneys from DLA, the training program provided instruction on areas of law critical to nonprofits such as intellectual property, real estate, and employment. The volunteers then met in groups of two to four to conduct a legal audit of their assigned client organization by reviewing a 10-step checklist developed by CPBO and tailored by DLA to D.C., Maryland, and Virginia law.

Verizon Picture 2Ensuring the legal health of these nonprofits means that they can continue to provide services to the community, such as programs in dance, music, and athletics for at-risk youth, and free tax preparation services to thousands of low-income families.

 The PBEye congratulates Verizon and all of its pro bono partners and looks forward to more great work in 2016 and the years that follow!

The Clinic in a Box® program is a time-limited pro bono opportunity that allows in-house lawyers and other department staff to work together to provide meaningful assistance to organizations that serve the local community. Those interested in reading more about past CPBO Clinic in a Box® programs should click here. To learn more about hosting a Clinic in a Box® program, please contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon.

Verizon Clinic 3

 

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

September 8, 2015

Global CSR + Pro Bono

IBM blogOne of the ways to increase pro bono activities within
in-house legal departments is to closely align them with the company’s ethos and its global corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts. One such example of the complementary nature of Global CSR and pro bono programs is the work done by International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), which have garnered numerous awards and recognition for the company.

IBM’s legal department’s pro bono activities routinely match with the company’s CSR initiatives through such programs as IBM’s employee Corporate Service Corps and On Demand Community. In 2011, IBM celebrated its 100-year anniversary by encouraging employees to volunteer their time to charity projects at an unprecedented level. In addition to volunteer hours, the company’s Centennial Celebration of Service provided nearly $12 million in grants to approximately 4,000 nonprofit organizations.

The support of social responsibility efforts included IBM’s legal department, whose members volunteered their skills for these programs—in addition to their existing pro bono projects. After the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, the legal department approached ShelterBox, a nonprofit humanitarian relief organization that responds in the immediate aftermath of disasters. The team of volunteers sought to help address the disaster-relief needs in Japan and provide broader legal assistance to ShelterBox’s operations. Specifically, attorneys reviewed the organization’s intellectual property, strengthened their corporate governance, and revised internal policies.

IBM’s work with ShelterBox has grown exponentially. IBM approached the law firm Baker & McKenzie*† to help deliver additional pro bono resources. Together, lawyers from both organizations have provided information and guidance related to international regulations impacting employees, volunteers, and beneficiaries of response efforts, such as providing information and guidance related to regulations impacting ShelterBox’s international staff and volunteers who were assisting families displaced by conflict in Syria.

This partnership capitalizes on the differing talents of each organization by matching attorneys to a variety of organizational needs. In addition to the legal services, both organizations inspired others to support the nonprofit financially, allowing the organization to more effectively and efficiently deliver more aid to the world’s most vulnerable people.

Separately, in 2012, IBM attorneys also devoted many hours on weekends to provide pro bono disaster relief assistance after Superstorm Sandy hit New York City. They partnered with the New York City Bar Justice Center and others to start and staff pro bono legal clinics and helping to galvanize and coordinate other volunteers.

In 2014, IBM broadened its partnership with the City Bar Justice Center and participated in two important projects: the Veterans Assistance Project and the Immigrant Women and Children Project. Through this partnership, dozens of IBM attorneys provide legal assistance to veterans seeking disability benefits, and to crime victims, including domestic violence victims, needing immigration relief.

To find out more about aligning corporate social responsibility and pro bono, access our on-demand webinar on the topic.

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

August 26, 2015

Partnership Develops Tools to Aid Judges in South Asia

s asia

South Asia has suffered from a significant amount of terrorist violence over the years. For example, 38 percent of terrorist incidents in 2013 occurred in South Asia, according to the Global Center on Cooperative Security. In 2014, according to the U.S. State Department, more than 60 percent of terrorist attacks took place in just five countries (Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Nigeria), of which three are in South Asia; nearly 6,700 people died from terrorist attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India that year.

In recognition of the need to build expertise in the adjudication of terrorism-related cases, the Global Center and the UN Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) launched a project to engage South Asian judges to develop strategies to improve the handling of such cases. One of the project’s goals was the development of a regional toolkit to help guide judges in their adjudication of such cases, which could in turn support the development of national bench books.

Pro bono lawyers from SalesForce.com** and Salesforce Foundation, in partnership with Baker & McKenzie*†, rose to the challenge of preparing such a regional toolkit.

When Salesforce began its pro bono program in 2014, it was eager to find a global project that could be done by its lawyers around the world. Drafting this regional toolkit fit the bill, and partnering with a global law firm like Baker & McKenzie allowed Salesforce to match up its lawyers with nearby law firm lawyers in different offices. Teams in Paris, London, Toronto, San Francisco, and New York contributed to the creation of this toolkit, which was recently submitted to the Global Center and CTED. The toolkit is practice-oriented and follows customary international and human rights law and norms relating to court proceedings for terrorism offenses. It is expected to be discussed at the 10th “Regional Workshop for Judges, Prosecutors, and Police in South Asia on Effectively Countering Terrorism” in Bangkok this October and may ultimately be used as a template for judges and judicial academies in other regions as well.

This project is the latest example of how partnerships in pro bono, particularly on a global scale, can provide meaningful assistance on important issues. The PBEye salutes Salesforce and Baker & McKenzie on a job well done.

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

August 11, 2015

Mobilizing Pro Bono

In thATT blog imagee spring of 2013, two weeks after attending an immigration law training session hosted by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld*, AT&T Inc.** volunteers put their skills to use by participating in a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival mega-clinic. At the clinic, set in a local Dallas high school that serves a large immigrant population, AT&T attorneys counseled more than 250 immigrants regarding eligibility and in filling out detailed applications. The clinic was designed as a one-day project; however, one client who needed more assistance stuck out to Belinda Marin Boling, a co-chair of AT&T’s southwest region’s pro bono program, and she felt compelled to continue her representation.

The client, a senior at the high school, had walked for more than an hour just to attend the clinic, and she did not arrive alone: she had come with her four younger siblings in tow, all of whom had been under her care since the abduction of her mother six months prior. With support from the Human Rights Initiative, Boling helped the client apply for a Special Juvenile Immigrant Status (SJIS) visa, a pathway to become a Lawful Permanent Resident that is available only to minors who have been abandoned, abused, or neglected. Tragically, a protest in Mexico closed the only road to her father’s village and prevented the delivery of the papers required for this SJIS filing before the filing deadline of the client’s eighteenth birthday. On that day, the day on which she had “aged out” of the SJIS requirements, police informed the client and her family that their mother had been brutally murdered.

On the heels of this horrific news, AT&T and the Human Rights Initiative filed an application for a U-Visa that gives victims of certain crimes temporary legal status and work eligibility in the U.S., and, which after three years, allows the holder to apply for a green card; although only 10,000 of such U-Visas are awarded each fiscal year, this client’s application was successful! After graduating fourth in her class, the client is now a student at Texas A&M University with a social security number and employment authorization, all thanks to the work of AT&T and its partners.

With the necessary support and training from its partners, AT&T was able to save its client from the risk of deportation, so that she can continue to use her education, intelligence, and drive to support her family and to fulfill her dream of becoming a physician. Indeed, partnerships like the one between AT&T, Akin Gump, and the Human Rights Initiative reveal that some of the best pro bono doesn’t necessarily happen in the courtroom or end at the close of a clinic.

For more information on immigration-related pro bono work read Pro Bono Assistance for Young Immigrants or listen to the webinar, Pro Bono in Practice: Immigration Update.

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

August 5, 2015

CPBO to Co-Host Clinic in a Box® Program – Nonprofit Policies at the 2015 ACC Annual Meeting

2015 ACC Annual MeetingOn Monday, October 19, CPBO will once again join ACC Northeast, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo*†, and The Lawyers Clearinghouse to co-host a Clinic in a Box® program. For the first time at an ACC Annual meeting, CPBO will utilize its new Clinic in a Box® Program – Select Topic model, which has a similar format and structure to the traditional model, but focuses on a specific topic rather than a broad legal audit of attending client organizations. The clinic will focus on anti-discrimination issues and the following important policies for nonprofits: Equal Employment Opportunity Policy and Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy.

The clinic will begin with a one and a half hour training session led by the expert attorneys from Mintz Levin. Volunteers will then meet in teams to assist the clients in drafting policies so that they may be implemented immediately. The entire clinic is three and a half hours and provides a great opportunity to aid organizations that may otherwise be unable to afford such assistance. For more information, see Clinic in a Box® Program – Nonprofit Policies FAQs.

Registration is required to volunteer. If you are attending the 2015 ACC Annual Meeting and would like to attend the clinic, please register by using the meeting registration portal. If you are interested in volunteering, but are not attending the meeting, please contact CPBO Project Assistant Josh Lefebvre for registration details.

To find out more about the Clinic in a Box® program, other CPBO events at the 2015 ACC Annual Meeting, or how to schedule a time to meet with CPBO while at the Annual Meeting, please contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon. We look forward to seeing you in Boston!

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

June 17, 2015

Liberia, the Magna Carta, and the Rule of Law

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On June 15, thousands of people from around the world descended on a field in Runnymede in the United Kingdom to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta. Although the Magna Carta was not the first time a monarch agreed to respect the rights and liberties of others, it went on to become an icon for the revolutionary concepts of due process and the rule of law. As British Prime Minister David Cameron noted at the commemoration, “Think of South Africa – of that courtroom in Rivonia. As Nelson Mandela stood in the dock, looking at a lifetime in prison, it was Magna Carta that he cited.”

How can pro bono attorneys contribute to the vision being discussed and celebrated this week? One answer is rule of law themed pro bono projects, particularly in post-conflict countries. A noteworthy example is a recently completed project in Liberia, in which Thomson Reuters Corporation** teamed up with Linklaters*†‡ and the nonprofit organization Lawyers Without Borders (LWOB).

As the country struggled to recover from the political upheaval and civil wars that occurred under former president Charles Taylor, Liberia’s legal system was additionally challenged by a lack of access to case law precedent in a readily usable format. To remedy this, LWOB secured seed project underwriting from the World Bank, publishing support from Thomson Reuters, and volunteer lawyers from Linklaters to produce a digest of case summaries and key-word index of over 3,700 Liberian cases beginning in the 1860s. This five-year project involved a cross-disciplinary team of over 200 Linklaters lawyers, trainees, and summer associates, from offices in New York, London, Dubai, Hong Kong, Madrid, Milan, Moscow, and Paris. Thomson Reuters Corporation helped organize the case digest structure and printed hard copies of the digest and index; these have now been provided to every judge in Liberia. Making such information readily available in a meaningful way should help improve the efficacy and consistency of legal governance in Liberia, although electricity and internet connectivity issues have delayed the longer-term goal of making the digest and index available online.

The work of the Magna Carta is not yet done. But pro bono attorneys and other legal professionals are working to realize its vision in Liberia and elsewhere: a world governed by the rule of law. We will stay tuned!

* denotes a Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®
**denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory
 denotes a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project
New York office only participating in Challenge

January 23, 2015

Upcoming Webinar: An Inside Look at In-House Pro Bono Partnerships

JoinPartnership us on February 3rd at 12:30 p.m. ET for “An Inside Look at In-House Pro Bono Partnerships,” a one-hour program hosted in conjunction with WestLegalEdcenter that will feature an in-depth look at the partnership between American International Group, Inc.’s** Global Legal, Compliance, Regulatory, and Government Affairs department (GLCR), and the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) to provide pro bono legal services to Afghan refugees whose lives are in danger due to their work with the U.S. government.

On November 6 at the PBI Annual Dinner in New York City, AIG and IRAP were presented with the 2014 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award for their pioneering, collaborative effort to serve the legal needs of refugees in the Middle East. The effectiveness of the partnership between AIG and IRAP has been proven repeatedly, from a client who successfully obtained a visa and began a new life in the U.S. to contributions to three major policy/legislative victories. The first victory in October 2013 was the extension of the Iraqi SIV program, followed by landmark legislation that made improvements to the SIV application process including giving SIV applicants access to counsel in overseas proceedings and the right to appeal SIV rejections, and finally the addition of 1,000 visas to the Afghan SIV program.

The following panelists will discuss the substance of their work as well as provide insight into the development and maintenance of their strong partnership:

  • Erica Blau, Associate Counsel, American International Group, Inc.
  • Ariele Cohen, Associate General Counsel, American International Group, Inc.
  • Kristen Gudewicz, Associate General Counsel, American International Group, Inc.
  • Becca Heller, Director and Co-founder, IRAP
  • Stephen Poellot, Legal Director, IRAP

CLE credit is available in many states. Interested in-house counsel should contact CPBO Project Assistant Josh Lefebvre for registration information or to submit questions in advance of the program. Registration is free for Law Firm Pro Bono Project Member Law Firms. Law firm participants should contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson for registration information.

Schedule conflict? Don’t worry – the program will also be available on-demand shortly after the original broadcast date.

** denotes Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

September 9, 2014

A Mighty Few Seek to Protect Native American Art

Indian Art

Photo Copyright: AFSC

While only a small group, volunteers from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Northwest Justice Project, and Foster Pepper are aiming to have a big impact on a serious problem for Native American and Alaska Native artisans: counterfeiters.

Many Native American and Alaska native artists, whose income relies on creating and selling traditional arts and crafts, are unable to compete with counterfeiters who saturate the market with mass produced knock-offs. Beginning in 2010, the lean team of four attorneys and eight non-lawyers (including the AFSC volunteer committee) has attacked this issue using multiple legal and non-legal avenues by educating Native artisans about their rights, developing methods to identify authentic Native American Art, and using intellectual property and nonprofit law.

A number of years ago, in response to the prevalence of counterfeit products, AFSC formed the Indian Arts and Crafts Volunteer Committee. The Committee seeks to help Native artists threatened by products deceptively marketed as Native-made by informing them about their intellectual property rights. Specifically, Native artists are protected by the Federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA). The legislation, enacted in 1990 and amended in 2010, aims to prevent counterfeit goods from being falsely advertised and sold as authentic native artwork. Unfortunately, there is not an effective enforceable mechanism against violators, so in practice the law only protects consumers.

In response to the inadequacy of the law, AFSC partnered with lawyers from Foster Pepper and Northwest Justice Project with the aim to create a mechanism for stronger enforcement and an authentication process. The team is forming a nonprofit that will administer licensing and enforcement of a certification mark that will tell consumers which goods are authentically Native-made. Ultimately, this new and innovative approach aims to protect Native artisans from counterfeit producers and provide them with economic stability.

This unique partnership, consisting of only a few attorneys, plays a big role in strengthening the native communities and preserving traditional arts and crafts. The partnership reflects the wide-scope of available pro bono projects and showcases how a few committee volunteers and attorneys can create a lasting impact. The PBEye congratulates this mighty effort!

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