The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
April 25, 2017

Support Your Chapter in the CPBO Chapter Challenge!

CPBO is excited to announce the CPBO Chapter Challenge for 2017!  CPBO invites ACC chapters to encourage their members to demonstrate their commitment to pro bono legal services by signing or encouraging their CLOs to sign the CPBO Challenge® statement. The ACC chapter with the most new signatories to the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® initiative on September 30 will be recognized at the 2017 ACC Annual Meeting in Washington DC.

It’s only been a month, and already two front runners have emerged! Currently, the Arizona and National Capital Region ACC Chapters are in the lead, both bringing new signatories to the CPBO Challenge® initiative.

In 2016, the inaugural year of the CPBO Chapter Challenge, competing chapters collectively encouraged 10 legal departments to declare their commitment to pro bono and sign the CPBO Challenge® statement. CPBO honored ACC Chicago for encouraging the most CLOs to join the challenge.  For more information, please contact CPBO at cpbo@probonoinst.org.

 

April 24, 2017

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday

Need something to hold you over between Stanley Cup playoff games? Tune in to the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour, and learn about exciting and meaningful developments in the world of law firm pro bono and access to justice.

Don’t miss our latest episode featuring Hilarie Atkisson of Fenwick & West*†. Hilarie talks to us about her career, the intersection of pro bono and corporate social responsibility (CSR), the Justice Bus, the access to justice culture in the San Francisco Bay Area, and more

Subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour in iTunes. Have you rated us on iTunes yet? Would you consider doing it now? We’d appreciate feedback and it would help make it easier for others to find the show and 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.

Want to learn more about the world of in-house pro bono? Check out Corporate Pro Bono’s podcast, the CLO & Pro Bono Series, which features Chief Legal Officers discussing the importance of pro bono and access to justice.

April 20, 2017

Pro Bono and Pop Culture

What are you doing on Saturday night? Check out the premiere of HBO’s adaption of the best-selling novel, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The film, starring Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne, tells the story of an impoverished black woman whose cancer cells were used to aid in lucrative medical discoveries after she died in 1950.  Meanwhile Lacks’ surviving relatives were left poor and unable to afford health insurance.

Lowenstein Sandler*† provided pro bono legal assistance both to set up the Henrietta Lacks Foundation and secure it tax-exempt status.

The Foundation aims to provide financial assistance to eligible individuals who have contributed to scientific research without personally benefiting, particularly in the absence of informed consent, and their families.   To date, more than 50 grants have been awarded to Lacks’ immediate family members for health expenses and education.  Other recipients are the family members of survivors of the Tuskegee Institute study from the 1930s-1970s, which left black men untreated for syphilis without their knowledge or consent, and Guatemalan men infected with syphilis in a U.S. government experiment in the 1940s.

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

April 18, 2017

CLO Letter in Support of Funding LSC Reaches 195 Signatories

In response to The White House Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) recommendation to eliminate federal funding for the Legal Services Corp. (LSC) for FY18, 195 chief legal officers and general counsel from across the U.S. have signed their names to a letter in support of funding LSC at $450 million for the next fiscal year. The National Law Journal pointed out that the signatories represent numerous industries and some of the country’s biggest companies.

Why are so many general counsel committed to supporting LSC? As the largest funder of civil legal services in the U.S., LSC funds the legal aid organizations that serve almost two million Americans every year and play a vital role in helping ensure access to justice. LSC-funded organizations offer a wide range of necessary services, including representation of domestic violence survivors, families in danger of losing their homes, and veterans and seniors deprived of public benefits to name a few. In addition, these organizations are essential in connecting those in need to pro bono legal services offered by legal departments and law firms.

In-house counsel aren’t the only ones in support of funding LSC. More than 150 law firm leaders signed a similar letter sent to OMB in early March which noted, “Eliminating the Legal Services Corporation will not only imperil the ability of civil legal aid organizations to serve Americans in need, it will also vastly diminish the private bar’s capacity to help these individuals.”

PBI stands with LSC and those who believe it should be fully funded.

To learn more or add your name to the letter, which will be updated and re-submitted at various stages of the budget approval process, please contact CPBO.

April 17, 2017

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday

Need listening material for the NBA playoffs? Tune in to the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour, and learn about exciting and meaningful developments in the world of law firm pro bono and access to justice.

Don’t miss our latest episode featuring Hayes Hunt of Cozen O’Connor*†. Hayes talks to us about his career, the firm’s pro bono program, meaningful pro bono matters, the pro bono culture in Philadelphia, and more.

Subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour in iTunes. Have you rated us on iTunes yet? Would you consider doing it now? We’d appreciate feedback and it would help make it easier for others to find the show and 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.

Want to learn more about the world of in-house pro bono? Check out Corporate Pro Bono’s podcast, the CLO & Pro Bono Series, which features Chief Legal Officers discussing the importance of pro bono and access to justice.

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

April 13, 2017

Heating Up with Pro Bono

The National Law Journal recently released its annual Pro Bono Hot List, which showcases significant and noteworthy pro bono efforts at major law firms.

This year’s issue recognized 11 Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® signatories and/or Law Firm Pro Bono project member firms for their inspiring pro bono initiatives: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld*† (settling a claim on behalf of a hearing disabled inmate); Jenner & Block*† (successfully arguing six cases before the U.S. Supreme Court); Latham & Watkins*† ( procuring citizenship for immigrant veterans); Mayer Brown* (supporting a task force that is working to restore relationships between Chicago police and communities of color); McDermott Will & Emery*†  (representing a group of Sikh soldiers against the United States Army, which resulted in a policy change); Morrison & Foerster*† (winning a U.S. Supreme Court case regarding the best interests of a woman’s health in Texas and the “undue burden” standard); Munger, Tolles & Olson*† (directing legal elements of a panel investigating police reform in San Francisco); Robins Kaplan*† (suing the government on behalf of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe to maintain the emergency room on their Reservation); Ropes & Gray*† (working with the Innocence Project to gain release for a wrongfully convicted client); Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom*† (handling 200 Clemency Project cases and earning 25 clemency grants); and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr*†  (obtaining a U.S. Supreme Court ruling invalidating Florida’s capital sentencing scheme as a violation of the Sixth Amendment).

These large-scale pro bono efforts are deserving of attention and praise for making an impact, being strategic, and tackling underlying legal issues to mitigate systemic problems and effect meaningful change. It is especially notable and encouraging to see law firms making significant commitments of time and resources to undertake major pro bono matters.

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

April 10, 2017

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday

Staying indoors to avoid the April showers? Tune in to the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour, and learn about exciting and meaningful developments in the world of law firm pro bono and access to justice.

Can’t wait until next week for a new episode? Check out our guest appearance on The Librarian Is In, The New York Public Library’s podcast about books, culture, and what to read next. Intrigued, but not yet ready to commit? Our podcast teaser is available on iTunes and YouTube.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour in iTunes. Have you rated us on iTunes yet? Would you consider doing it now? We’d appreciate feedback and it would help make it easier for others to find the show and 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.

Want to learn more about the world of in-house pro bono? Check out Corporate Pro Bono’s podcast, the CLO & Pro Bono Series, which features Chief Legal Officers discussing the importance of pro bono and access to justice.

 

 

April 6, 2017

Welcome Ropes & Gray to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®

The Law Firm Pro Bono Project is pleased to announce a new signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® initiative. We are excited to welcome Ropes & Gray*†, whose attorneys and staff have shown a strong dedication to pro bono work by providing a range of meaningful legal services to those in need.

Since 1993, the Challenge, an initiative of PBI’s Law Firm Project, has served as a guidepost to assist major law firms in increasing their commitment to pro bono legal services. The Challenge principles are designed to offer institutional support and maximize the efficacy of law firm pro bono programs. The Challenge definition of pro bono has become an industry standard, utilized not only by major law firms but by the legal media in reporting the pro bono contributions of large law firms.

We encourage firms to use their status as signatories as a rallying cry and a point of pride and distinction. Publicize your participation and your pledge of pro bono service inside and outside the firm, to your clients, and to the public interest groups with whom you work. Making a public commitment to the Challenge heightens awareness of pro bono at the firm, increases attorney participation, engages firm leadership, and sets clear and shared goals for success. We also invite firms to renew their Challenge commitments at any time: whether you are undergoing a merger or other structural changes; whether you would like to increase your Challenge goal from 3 to 5 percent of billable hours; or whether you’d like to gain the momentum of publicly re-affirming your institutional commitment to pro bono.

For firms that have not yet joined because of a concern that they cannot meet the Challenge goals, we encourage you to enroll and use this proven tool to advance pro bono at your firm. There is no downside as we do not publish disaggregated statistics, nor do we in any way identify individual firms as having met or not met their Challenge goal. Rather, we work closely with Challenge Signatories to provide individual consultative services and support to help them improve their pro bono performance.

By joining the Challenge, your firm can institutionalize its firm-wide commitment to providing pro bono legal services to low-income and disadvantaged individuals and the organizations that serve them. To learn how your firm can become a leader in law firm pro bono, please contact us.

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

April 3, 2017

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday

Need listening material for Opening Day and tonight’s Men’s Basketball National Championship Game? Tune in to the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour, and learn about exciting and meaningful developments in the world of law firm pro bono and access to justice.

Don’t miss our latest episode featuring Stephanie Schlatter of Buckley Sandler *†. Stephanie talks to us about her career, the firm’s emerging pro bono program, March Madness, and more.

Subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour in iTunes. Have you rated us on iTunes yet? Would you consider doing it now? We’d appreciate feedback and it would help make it easier for others to find the show and 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.

Want to learn more about the world of in-house pro bono? Check out Corporate Pro Bono’s podcast, the CLO & Pro Bono Series, which features Chief Legal Officers discussing the importance of pro bono and access to justice.

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

March 30, 2017

March Mindfulness

“Spring Cleaning” has meaning for law firm pro bono programs, just as it does for our homes and wardrobes. The season’s themes of renewal and growth make it the perfect time to reflect on your pro bono program’s mission, structure, and goals. For assistance with this effort, check out our Law Firm Pro Bono Self-Assessment Guide, which is designed to help large law firms assess the strengths and weaknesses of their programs and engage in goal-setting and long-term strategic planning.

In order to be effective and successful, pro bono programs should be compatible with the firm’s environment, culture, and history. There are a range of ever-evolving factors that shape a firm’s program, such as firm size, geographic location, the nature of the firm’s practice, and its economic health. We’ve identified certain common elements that are essential for establishing and maintaining a strong pro bono program and this guide allows firms to determine the status of these critical elements within the context of their own past history and future planning.

We encourage firms to share the results of their self-assessment (in whole or part) with us. The Law Firm Pro Bono Project is available to offer analysis of the firm’s program and provide confidential assistance to firms in restructuring and revamping their program. If you have any questions or need assistance please contact us.