The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
August 24, 2017

Why Does Dewey Bozella “Stand Tall”?

Looking for a good read for the last long weekend of the summer? Check out Stand Tall: Fighting for My Life, Inside and Outside the Ring by Dewey Bozella, who was wrongfully imprisoned for 26 years until he was freed with the help of pro bono counsel from Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr*† and the Innocence Project.

From 1983 until 2009, Bozella was incarcerated in Sing Sing Correctional Facility for the murder of a 92 year-old woman in upstate New York. His memoir, Stand Tall, details his path to freedom through his perseverance, dedication, and resilience.  Bozella’s story from his childhood to his love of boxing takes the reader on an uplifting tale of an underdog’s journey to prove his innocence and take back the life he thought he had lost. In 2011, he was honored by ESPN with the Arthur Ashe Award for his courage to never stop fighting.

If you would like to learn more about Bozella’s story, listen to his speech at the 2011 PBI Annual Dinner. We are grateful for his inspiring presence and an unforgettable evening. Interested in attending the 2017 PBI Annual Dinner next month? The dinner will be held on Thursday, September 28th at Gotham Hall in New York City. Please contact Kelly Simon for more information.

* denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Signatory

† denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Project® Member

August 23, 2017

Spotlight: Arizona ACC Chapter Transforms State’s In-House Pro Bono Activities

In 2016, the Arizona ACC Chapter launched the In-House Counsel Pro Bono Commission (IHCPBC) with the vision of creating a statewide structure to facilitate pro bono activities for in-house counsel by addressing impediments and providing organized opportunities. While the commission has only existed for a short time, it has already begun to transform the way in-house counsel pro bono activities operate in Arizona and have a positive impact on communities across the state.

  Goals of the IHCPBC:

  • “Specifically, tailor efforts to in-house counsel, enabling counsel to select the activity that will personally resonate and encourage engagement
  • Improve efficiencies, enabling the sharing of resources which will help to eliminate redundancies and administrative burdens
  • Facilitate making connections, between in-house counsel and partners helping to deliver the pro bono activities
  • Provide a forum for sharing, exploring, and supporting ideas that build upon each other
  • Provide a platform to grow awareness to have broader reach and impact
  • Shine a light on current efforts, enabling others to partner/follow and provide match making like connections”

The IHCPBC was the brainchild of the board of the Arizona ACC Chapter, which began working in 2015 to:

  • build the structure of the commission;
  • invite leaders from legal departments, organizations such as the Arizona Bar Foundation and Volunteer Lawyers Program, the Arizona Judiciary’s Access to Justice Commission, local law schools, and law firms to join the IHCPBC;
  • eliminate obstacles to in-house counsel fully engaging in pro bono legal service; and
  • create key working groups that pair an in-house counsel with a third-party leader to help drive each working group’s strategy.

Addressing Impediments to In-House Pro Bono

From its inception, the IHCPBC has engaged in a wide variety of work to encourage and streamline in-house counsel pro bono activities. The commission has worked to eliminate challenges that previously deterred in-house counsel, such as a lack of malpractice insurance, time restrictions, and a mismatch of skills.  With regard to insurance, the IHCPBC worked with the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services to offer malpractice insurance for in-house counsel who provide pro bono within the umbrella of the IHCPBC.  In addition, it has coordinated partnerships with agencies and law firms to provide any necessary training. Furthermore, the IHCPBC has worked to clarify and spread awareness of limited scope representation and licensing rules that apply to pro bono activities.

Pro Bono Assistance

By setting the framework for a significant amount of strategic collaboration among in-house counsel, agencies, key community leaders, and law firms, the IHCPBC has strengthened pro bono opportunities across Arizona. The commission is currently supporting a number of pro bono efforts to engage in-house volunteers to (i) assist veteran-based entrepreneurs in their startup businesses, (ii) provide free, essential legal documents to first responders and military personnel, (iii) staff a variety of clinics, and (iv) serve as mediators for selected small business litigants in the Arizona Commercial Court.

Access to Justice Initiatives

In addition to supporting in-house pro bono activities, the IHCPBC is focused on improving access to justice and increasing diversity in the legal profession, including arranging classroom visits with attorneys, hosting panels at libraries to provide the community with basic legal information, and developing online resources.

Successes So Far

Since its launch last year, the commission has:

  • increased in-house pro bono participation by partnering with numerous organizations and law firms to engage in-house counsel to provide pro bono legal assistance to dozens of low income individuals, refugees, startups, and first responders;
  • assisted hundreds of refugees in partnership with key service providers on a wide-range of matters, including legal documentation, landlord-tenant issues, education matters, basic legal issues, general assistance, and advising non-profits that help refugees;
  • piloted and launched a mediation program with the Arizona Commercial Court, which entailed developing the program, testing it out, successfully resolving two cases, and fully rolling out the program to benefit litigants;
  • hosted two CLE programs, one on implicit bias and the other on assisting refugees through the immigration process;
  • advocated for amending AZ’s practice rules to empower in-house pro bono by eliminating the double certification requirement for in-house counsel licensed outside of Arizona and working in the state to provide greatly needed pro bono legal services;
  • strongly supported the Arizona Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission;
  • published a menu of pro bono activities suitable for in-house counsel, which acts as a guide for volunteers to engage in a way that personally resonates and benefits those in need; and
  • engaged with the community by hosting multiple library panels for the public and fireside chats with veterans starting their own businesses, and visiting numerous classrooms.

CPBO congratulates the Arizona ACC Chapter, the IHCPBC, and all of their partners for their tremendous work and dedication to pro bono activities. For information on the how CPBO can help your chapter start or grow its pro bono program, click here.

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 8, 2017

Join CPBO to Learn About the Ethics of In-House Pro Bono

The 2017 ACC Annual Meeting may feel like a ways away, but it’s never too early to start deciding which sessions to check out! There will be a number of in-house pro bono-related events, including the session “Ethics of In-house Pro Bono” (Tuesday, October 12, 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm). The session will provide an overview of the ethical issues in-house attorneys face when representing clients in pro bono matters in the U.S. and around the globe, 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. CPBO is excited to announce the following speakers will be presenting at the session:

In addition, don’t forget to register for the Clinic in a Box® program (Monday, October 16, 8:30 am – 1:15 pm) to assist local nonprofits and earn CLE. Contact CPBO Project Assistant, Virginia Lyon.

To find out more about in-house pro bono or CPBO at the ACC Annual Meeting contact CPBO at cpbo@probonoinst.org. We look forward to seeing you in DC!

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

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

August 1, 2017

On Wachtel’s Watch, 90% of Discover Financial’s Legal Team Provides Pro Bono

On July 17, The Chicago Bar Association and The Chicago Bar Foundation presented Gary Wachtel, Senior Director in the law department of Discover Financial Services** and chair of Discover’s Pro Bono Committee, with the Exelon Outstanding Corporate Counsel Award. Endowed by Exelon Corporation**, the award recognizes “the generally unsung pro bono contributions of outstanding attorneys in the corporate sector.” It is a well-deserved recognition. In addition to personally dedicating numerous hours to pro bono, in his role as committee chair, Wachtel has expanded Discover’s pro bono engagement and encouraged colleagues to participate. Under his leadership as committee chair, more than 90% of Discover’s legal team has undertaken pro bono or volunteer projects in their communities, totaling nearly 1,500 hours of pro bono service.  Wachtel has also collaborated with other legal departments to increase access to justice and build the culture of in-house pro bono in the area.

One of Wachtel’s biggest accomplishments to date is leading Discover’s partnership with the non-profits, Between Friends and LAF (Legal Assistance Foundation), to establish a free help desk for survivors of domestic violence at the Cook County Courthouse in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. Volunteer attorneys from Allstate Insurance Company**, Discover, DLA Piper*, and Illinois Tool Works Inc. receive training from LAF regarding domestic violence law and strategies to properly interact with survivors. Following their training, the attorneys staff the help desk with support from LAF to help survivors navigating the difficult and emotional legal process. Access to legal representation is vital for survivors, providing them with critical information that they might not otherwise receive and increasing their chances of quickly and successfully obtaining protection orders.

In addition to the Rolling Meadows Help Desk, Wachtel and Discover have become a strong partner with DLA Piper and LAF at their monthly legal services clinic in the Woodlawn neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois.  Discover joined the Woodlawn Legal Clinic team in 2013 and since then dozens of Discover volunteers have contributed hundreds of pro bono hours.

CPBO congratulates Wachtel for his deep commitment to pro bono work and public service in his community. For more information on the Rolling Meadows Domestic Violence Help Desk, click here and here. For more information on the Woodlawn Legal Clinic, check out Wachtel’s 2016 guest blog here.

† 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

Hat tip to PBI intern Sahil Shah for his help on this post.