After working on her very first pro bono asylum case as a law firm associate, Sarah Nolan, pro bono counsel, Brooklyn Defender Services, knew that she wanted to do more pro bono and dedicate her career to immigration work.
Many lawyers agree that doing pro bono “feels good.” This week, we hear from Michael Bergmann, executive director, Public Interest Law Initiative, as he explains how doing pro bono can be a rewarding experience for lawyers.
Chief legal officers have been at the forefront of the incredible growth of in-house pro bono. Many have publicly emphasized the importance of engaging in pro bono not just for their own legal departments but for every lawyer.
At the 2014 PBI Annual Dinner, Randy Milch, former general counsel and current executive vice president and strategic policy advisor, Verizon Communications Inc.**, shared why pro bono service is important and spoke about the tremendous need for attorneys to volunteer and become evangelists for pro legal services. In his remarks, Milch, acknowledging that more than 80 percent of the legal needs of low-income individuals go unmet, stated, “We have to become beacons, each one of us, about the importance of providing legal assistance to the poor in our country.” He continued, “There are no issues … that should prevent you from participating and prevent you from encouraging all of those around you from participating.”
For Bruce Kuhlik, former executive vice president and general counsel at Merck & Co., Inc.**, there are many reasons to do pro bono, including fulfilling one’s professional responsibility, but it boils down to “it’s just the right thing to do.” Indeed, for many attorneys, general counsel included, the key motivations for providing pro bono services are their desire to use their unique skills as an attorney to help those who need them the most.
At the 2015 PBI Annual Conference, Bill Casazza, executive vice president and general counsel, Law & Regulatory Affairs, Aetna, Inc.** (recipient of the 2015 Laurie D. Zelon Award), shared his perspective on how his legal department’s pro bono program has maintained its commitment to pro bono for more than 30 years. Casazza cites three reasons. One, the foundation of Aetna’s success is that it receives substantial support from the top, including from the general counsel and CEO. Aetna’s program also is not just limited to litigation; it leverages the unique skills of a wide variety of the lawyers and other professionals in its department to offer opportunities involving, among other things, transactional work and legal advice clinics. In addition, the department not just allows, but encourages its lawyers and staff to take the time to engage in pro bono matters and also ensures that these pro bono matters are treated the same as any other matter undertaken on behalf of the corporation. As a result, Casazza states that pro bono is “part of the expectation and part of the fabric of the Aetna law department.”
For more information about in-house pro bono, please contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon.
**denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory
Michael Howson, assistant general counsel, AOL Inc.**, explains how pro bono work creates a sense of balance between his day-to-day corporate responsibilities and his desire to make an immediate impact in his community.
** denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory
Do you remember what inspired you to become an attorney? This week, we hear from Larry Bennett, patent attorney, Intel Corporation**, as he describes how using various practice skills on pro bono cases remind him of why he decided to practice law.
** denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory
We at The PBEye are always excited to hear why our friends are doing pro bono. This week, we hear from Patricia Mugavero, vice president and assistant general counsel, JPMorgan Chase & Co., as she shares her reasons for doing pro bono.
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.
The 2015 PBI Annual Conference (March 4-6) is the premier pro bono event of the year, connecting law firm and in-house leaders as well as public interest and legal services pro bono professionals, to learn and share the best and latest information on pro bono! Take a listen as some of the top leaders in legal pro bono explain why they come to the Conference.
We hope to see you there!
We at The PBEye bid farewell to longtime Chair and Managing Partner of Latham & Watkins*† Bob Dell who has retired from the firm. Bob led the firm for two decades before officially retiring December 31.
As a member of PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project Advisory Committee, Bob has been a great supporter of pro bono over the years and a dear friend to PBI. We wanted to share with you this touching video from Latham & Watkins that highlights Bob’s stellar career and includes comments from his colleagues on his commitment to pro bono.
We wish Bob well in his future endeavors!
* denotes a Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®
† denotes a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project
Are you looking for ways to give back to your community? Pro bono is a great start. This week, we hear from Regina Hopkins, assistant director for community economic development, DC Bar, as she explains why pro bono plays an important role in enhancing our communities.