The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
June 27, 2017

Clorox Honored as 2017 Best Legal Department

In early June, Corporate Counsel announced CPBO Challenge® signatory, The Clorox Company**, as one of four 2017 Best Legal Departments. The awardees were selected based on success stories indicating the department has been integral in leading innovation and change.

According to Corporate Counsel’s write-up on Clorox’s award, Cleaning up with Clorox’s Legal Team, the department received the award in part because of its knack for successfully collaborating with the company’s business side. “Our hallmark is partnering with business,” says Laura Stein, Clorox’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel and CPBO’s Advisory Board Co-Chair, “The global legal implications of doing business today gives us a seat at the table.” Members of Stein’s legal department co-lead Clorox programs on topics such as global privacy, cybersecurity, and enterprise management.

In addition to significant collaboration, the department was commended for its commitment to driving positive change in the legal profession through pro bono work and efforts to increase diversity. Under  American Bar Association standards, the Clorox legal team is 75 percent diverse, and Stein herself chairs the national Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, an organization of more than 265 corporate legal officers and law firm managing partners dedicated to creating a diverse legal profession.

In addition to diversity in the legal profession, the Clorox legal team works to improve the legal profession through pro bono work. In 2016, Clorox attorneys provided pro bono services through a number of projects. Volunteers partnered with the East Bay Community Law Center to expunge criminal records and provided guidance on copyright and trademark issues for clients of California Lawyers for the Arts.

In giving the award, Corporate Counsel also mentioned Mark Danis, Gillian Thackray, and Angela Hilt, leaders of Clorox’s legal team, for such notable work as winning a case that could have affected many producers of consumer goods, working closely with a business unit on critical patent protections, and broadening Clorox’s reach into the health care industry through the acquisition of RenewLife.

The PBEye congratulates Clorox for its award along with First Data, IBM, and PETA Foundation, and commends the legal department for its continued commitment to pro bono and driving diversity in the legal profession.

** denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

June 26, 2017

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday

Need a side of listening material with your Seattle coffee? Don’t miss the latest episode of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour, featuring Leah Medway of Perkins Coie*†. Leah talks to us about her career, the firm’s pro bono program, the access to justice culture in Seattle, the documentary “The Chance for a New Life — The Sara Kruzan Story,” 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

June 22, 2017

Measuring the Justice Gap

Last week, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) released a report, The Justice Gap: Measuring the Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Americans,”  which is the result of a survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago of 2,000 Americans living at or below 125% of the Federal Poverty Level.  The report takes a detailed look at documents the extent of the “the justice gap,” which  LSC defines “as the difference between the civil legal needs of low-income Americans and the resources available to meet those needs.”

Key findings include:

  • Seventy-one percent of low-income households experienced at least one civil legal problem during the past year in areas such as healthcare, housing conditions, disability access, veterans’ benefits, education, and domestic violence.
  • In 2016, 86 percent of the civil legal problems reported by low-income Americans received inadequate or no legal help.
  • Low-income Americans seek legal help for only 20 percent of their civil legal problems.
  • In 2017, it is estimated that low-income individuals will contact LSC-funded legal aid organizations for support with 1.7 million problems. However, they will receive limited or no legal help for more than half (1.1 million of these problems due to inadequate resources).

University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh was among the speakers at a launch event for the report. “I may be a football coach,” he said, “but I am an American first and foremost, and all Americans should care about equal access to justice.” He continued, noting that it’s “about fundamental fairness…if you have money, you have access to justice. If you don’t have money, you have less access to our justice system, and that’s not the way it should work.”

To learn more about LSC and its current challenges and opportunities, check out our recent interview with Ronald Flagg on the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s Podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour. The episode is available on Apple Podcasts and YouTube.

June 20, 2017

CPBO at the 2017 ACC Annual Meeting

The PBEye is happy to announce that the CPBO team will be staying put in D.C. for the 2017 ACC Annual Meeting. At the meeting, held October 15 – 18, you can get your recommended dose of in-house pro bono at the following events:

Clinic in a Box® Program Training  Sunday, October 15, 3:00 – 4:30 pm
Is your ACC chapter or legal department interested in co-hosting a Clinic in a Box® program? Join CPBO and be trained to co-host a Clinic in a Box® program, a half-day clinic that provides in-house counsel the opportunity to advise nonprofit organizations or small businesses while earning CLE credit.  (Note that registration is required and there is a separate fee to participate in this program.)

Clinic in a Box® Program  Monday, October 16, 8:30 am – 1:15 pm
Earn CLE credit while providing pro bono services to nonprofit organizations that are in great need of legal assistance. In the first half of the clinic, law firm experts train participants, who during the second half meet in teams with representatives of D.C. area nonprofits to provide legal advice. Training materials and information about the nonprofit clients are provided to participants in advance. (Note that pre-registration is required to participate.)

Session: Ethics of In-house Pro Bono  Tuesday, October 17, 2:30 – 4:00 pm
Are you concerned about pro bono practice and ethics rules, and/or interested in learning how you and your legal department can engage in providing pro bono legal services? This session will provide an overview of the ethical issues in-house attorneys face when representing clients in pro bono matters in the US, as well as address practical issues related to in-house pro bono. Topics will include administering a pro bono program, managing conflicts (both legal and business), and securing malpractice insurance.

Meet with CPBO  Sunday, October 15 – Wednesday, October 18 
CPBO looks forward to meeting with attendees when they have free time between programs. If you are interested in sitting down with CPBO for a few minutes to discuss options and initiatives for yourself, your legal department, or your chapter, please contact CPBO to set up a time that is convenient for you. Or, stop by the CPBO booth in the exhibit hall to see new resources and chat with the CPBO team.

To find out more about the events listed above, please contact CPBO, and for the complete ACC Annual Meeting schedule, click here. We look forward to seeing you in D.C.!

June 19, 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 Ronald Flagg of the Legal Services Corporation. Ron talks to us about his career, his transition to LSC from private practice, his experience leading a law firm pro bono program while he was at Sidley Austin*†, LSC’s current challenges and opportunities, 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

June 15, 2017

The State of Law Firm Pro Bono

One hundred thirty-five law firms collectively reported increases in total pro bono hours, pro bono hours for those of limited means, attorney participation rates, and charitable giving to legal services organizations, according to PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s recently released Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Report.  This annual report examines the pro bono activities of signatories to the Challenge, a unique, aspirational standard. More good news? Lives are being improved, rights are being protected, and access to justice is being advanced every day.

Among the many takeaways from this year’s Report:  firms are surpassing their challenge goals. Fifty-six percent of firms either performed the same amount or increased their pro bono hours over 2015. Twenty percent of firms reported significant expansion (in excess of 20% over 2015), demonstrating that major growth is possible. As always, we are grateful to our signatories for their dedication to improving access to justice and leading the way in pro bono service.

Check out the complete Challenge Report including analysis of the data, additional information regarding firm size and pro bono, detailed graphs, and more. Stay tuned to The PBEye for more highlights from this year’s Challenge Report, and the Law Firm Project’s discussion of the Report on our podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour.

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

June 13, 2017

Verizon Hosts a Clinic in a Box® Program in DC

On June 2, Verizon Communications Inc.** co-hosted a Clinic in a Box program with the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center, DLA Piper*, and Corporate Pro Bono at the Verizon offices in Washington, D.C. This was the 13th Clinic in a Box program Verizon has co-hosted with CPBO. The focus of this clinic was to help nonprofit clients set up their organization’s bylaws – a grey area for many nonprofits but also an essential foundation for their long-term success.

DLA Piper Partner Eric Geppert leads a presentation on nonprofit bylaws.

Verizon invited other legal departments to join its team of in-house volunteers, many of whom were returning participants. A total of 23 volunteers from Verizon, Bank of America Corporation**, Barclays Bank PLC**, Freddie Mac**, UnitedHealth Group Incorporated**, and new Verizon company XO Communications participated. DLA Piper Partner Eric Geppert kicked off the clinic with a volunteer training session on crafting and correcting bylaws for nonprofit organizations in accordance with D.C. law. Following the 90-minute presentation, the group put their training into action, meeting with eight local nonprofit organizations to review and update their bylaws. The clinic’s nonprofit clients engage in a wide variety of work serving vulnerable groups and individuals, including providing care and after-school support for young children, finding affordable and supportive housing for women with mental disabilities, and offering aid to pregnant women and parents. After gathering information about their client’s organization and its structure, the volunteers, working in teams, collaborated to update the bylaws and send revisions and notes to the clients.

The volunteers’ legal assistance at the clinic helped their clients avoid future roadblocks that might prevent the organizations from fulfilling their mission. Many of the volunteers appreciated the opportunity to assist nonprofit organizations, with one participant indicating that the clinic was a “great event and very fulfilling”. The clients echoed similar sentiments, commenting that “the team was very knowledgeable about nonprofit bylaws and their best practices”.

CPBO Director Tammy Sun and CPBO Assistant Director Shannon Graving check in volunteers and clients.

The PBEye thanks all of the co-hosts and volunteers for making this clinic a great success.

ACC chapters and legal departments interested in hosting a similar clinic, can learn more on the Clinic in a Box program webpage and read about previous clinics here. To discuss in-house pro bono, please contact CPBO.

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

Hat tip to PBI Intern Sahil Shah for his help with this story.

June 12, 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 Julie Orr of Davis Wright Tremaine*†. Julie talks to us about the firm’s pro bono program, pro bono valentines and heart of justice award, medical-legal partnerships, supporting survivors of domestic violence, and more.

Subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour in iTunes. Be sure to rate us on iTunes! 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

June 8, 2017

Act Now!

It’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project membership season. Complete and return the 2017-2018 membership enrollment form now to publicly demonstrate your firm’s support for pro bono. Submit your form before September 1 to receive a 10 percent discount.

Why wait? Renew or join today so you don’t lose the many valuable benefits available exclusively to Law Firm Project members, such as free publications, webinars, and the members-only section in the Project’s Resource Clearinghouse.

As a member firm, you will have access to a variety of additional services and resources designed to help you create and maintain a successful pro bono program, such as expert consultative services and discounted registration to the PBI Annual Conference. Please contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Elysse DeRita, if you have any questions.

Special thanks to our first member firms for 2017-2018: Akerman†; Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld*†; Baker Botts*†; Blake, Cassels & Graydon†; Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck*†; Bryan Cave*†; Cozen O’Connor*†; DLA Piper*†; Drinker Biddle & Reath*†; Holland & Knight*†; Hunton & Williams*†; Kasowitz Benson Torres†, Katten Muchin Rosenman†; McDermott Will & Emery*†; Morgan, Lewis & Bockius*†; Seyfarth Shaw*†; and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom*†.

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

June 5, 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 Bill Belitsky of Paul Hastings*†. Bill talks to us about why pro bono isn’t just for litigators, his career, the firm’s pro bono program, and more.

Subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour in iTunes. Be sure to rate us on iTunes! 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