The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
July 31, 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 Theodore Howard of Wiley Rein*†. Ted talks to us about serving as the firm’s first full-time Pro Bono Partner, his pro bono work on behalf of inmates and prison reform efforts, the firm’s pro bono program, 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

July 28, 2017

CPBO in the Windy City

On July 12, CPBO made its yearly trip _ to Chicago to meet with in-house pro bono leaders from the metro area as well as co-host the 7th annual ACC Chicago Clinic in a Box® program with the ACC Chicago Chapter, the Community Law Project, and DLA Piper*†.

Upon arriving in Chicago, CPBO met with local in-house pro bono leaders to discuss ways to build and improve in-house pro bono programs and to share recent developments in in-house pro bono. Hosted by Discover Financial Services**, attendees discussed various pro bono initiatives, legal services organization partnerships, and ideas for deepening pro bono engagement in legal departments. The meeting was well attended with representatives from large and small legal departments throughout the Chicago metro area.

Early the next day, at the new offices of DLA Piper, CPBO welcomed 47 attorneys and professional staff from legal departments throughout Chicagoland, ready to assist 14 local nonprofits. Due to the success of last year’s select topic clinic, the partnering organizations opted to work on another specific area of concern to nonprofits: sick leave policies and separation agreements. Volunteers began the day with an hour and a half training session led by attorneys from DLA Piper. Volunteers then met with representatives of a nonprofit organization to draft or revise the organization’s leave policies and a form separation agreement, providing the organization with documents to take at the end of the clinic.

By providing legal assistance to these nonprofits, the volunteers helped ensure that these organizations can sustain the services they offer to the community, ranging from eradicating racism through theater arts to creating opportunities for refugees fleeing war. One client expressed appreciation for the clinic, “This was great, well organized, and the volunteers were exceptional – so knowledgeable, so friendly, so helpful.” CPBO would like to thank the organizers and volunteers for their time and effort in making this clinic a success.

For more information about in-house pro bono training opportunities, including past CPBO Clinic in a Box® programs, click here and here. To learn more about hosting a Clinic in a Box® program or about in-house pro bono, please contact CPBO at cpbo@probonoinst.org.

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

**denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

July 27, 2017

The Essence of Pro Bono

PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project released its annual Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge Report®, which examines the pro bono activities of Challenge signatories.

We’ve previously shared highlights and written about attorney pro bono participation rates and law firm charitable giving. Another takeaway from 2016 is the percentage of total pro bono time devoted to those of limited means and the organizations that serve them. The Challenge asks firms to devote “a majority” of their pro bono time  “to persons of limited means or to charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental, and educational organizations in matters which are designed primarily to address the needs of persons limited means” (Principal 3). In 2016, 69.1 percent of all pro bono time was devoted to those of limited means and the organizations that serve them. Again this year, we are pleased that this important Challenge goal is being met. Furthermore, this data helps expose as myth any perception that large law firms are not adequately supporting legal aid programs and that they should do more before additional resources and other funding streams, particularly public ones, are tapped.

Check out the complete Challenge Report, including analysis of the data, detailed graphs, and more. And, tune in to the Law Firm Project’s discussion of the Report in Pro Bono: Beyond the Numbers , a recent episode of 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.

July 24, 2017

Happy 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 Katie Cronin of Stinson Leonard Street*†. Katie talks to us about her career, the firm’s pro bono program, the access to justice culture in Kansas City, and how pro bono work “feeds her soul.” Want to learn more about the firm’s pro bono program? Search our archives for the episode featuring Theresa Hughes, Katie’s colleague and pro bono role model.

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

July 20, 2017

Instagram for Justice

Did you know social media can be good business? It can! A study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation found that neutral feelings towards a company can be shifted to positive by increasing the promotion of CSR using social media.  By expanding their social media presence to include emerging applications like Instagram, law firms and their pro bono programs can not only increase engagement but connect visually with clients, partners, the community, and others while promoting pro bono and access to justice.

Previously, we have discussed the impact of cultivating a law firms’ social media presence to promote their pro bono work. Many law firms have established themselves on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. For example, Instagram, a social networking app made for sharing photos and videos, similar to the photo sharing functions found on Twitter and Facebook, is becoming popular with law firms.  Launched in 2010, Instagram now has over 400 million daily users and has seen adult use double since 2012. Firms like DLA Piper*† and Fenwick & West*† can be found on Instagram as well as nonprofit and legal services organizations such as The Florida Bar Foundation and law school programs like the Pro Bono Program at The Catholic University of America School of Law.

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

July 18, 2017

Transgender Name Changes and Pro Bono

As of 2016,approximately 1.4 million people in the United States identify as transgender. An important milestone in many of their transitions is legally changing their name and gender marker. However, the process can be overwhelming due to confusing regulations, high costs, and government bureaucracy. Transgender people are four times more likely to live under the poverty line, and many cannot afford the financial and time commitment necessary to obtain a legal change in name and gender designation. Fortunately, a number of organizations across the country have dedicated time and resources to provide such services through pro bono volunteers.

For example, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), a nonprofit committed to ending discrimination and achieving equality for transgender people, launched The Name Change Project in 2007 to help transgender individuals legally change their name and gender marker. Over the past ten years, many law firms and legal departments have volunteered with the Name Change Project to provide pro bono legal services, including The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation**, The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.**, and  Viacom, Inc.** Currently, the Name Change Project serves individuals in Chicago, IL (Cook County), Milwaukee, WI (Milwaukee County), New York City, NY (all five boroughs/counties), Philadelphia, PA (Philadelphia County), and Pittsburgh, PA (Allegheny County). Pro bono attorneys meet with their clients to discuss the process, prepare and file the necessary documents for a name change petition, schedule and attend hearings, and assist with any other state requirements. With the help of an attorney, the name change process typically takes an average of four months to complete, and an average of 20 attorney hours.

Five years ago in Washington, D.C., Trans Legal Advocates of Washington (TransLAW) and Whitman-Walker Health worked together to begin offering free clinics to provide legal assistance with the name and gender marker change process. These walk-in clinics are now hosted monthly.  Trained volunteers help transgender people obtain court orders and change drivers’ licenses, passports, birth certificates, and other identity documents and public records.

Transgender people can face many legal obstacles and pro bono attorneys can make a significant impact in overcoming those obstacles. The National Center for Transgender Equality maintains the Trans Legal Services Network Directory, a list of national, regional, and local organizations that provide legal help.

** denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

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

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.

July 13, 2017

Partners Versus Associates

We’ve previously shared highlights from the 2016 Report on the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®, such as information about law firm charitable giving. Challenge signatories visibly acknowledge their institutional, firm-wide commitment to provide pro bono legal services. They agree that they “will use [their] best efforts to ensure that a majority of both partners and associates in the firm participate annually in pro bono activities.” Participation rates in 2016 remained steady for both partners and associates: 65.5% of partners and 84.4% of associates participated in pro bono, with an overall attorney participation rate of 74.9%.

Many law firms struggle with how to involve more partners in pro bono work. The PBEye believes that it is critical to attain meaningful participation by partners — it broadens a firm’s pro bono capacity and helps ensure the long-term vitality of pro bono by sending a clear message that pro bono is an important and lasting firm value. If you are looking for suggestions to increase partner participation, we’ve prepared several helpful hints and best approaches for doing so. Or, contact us for individualized, confidential assistance.

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.

July 10, 2017

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday

Celebrate our “diamond” program with us! Don’t miss the 75th episode of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour, featuring Susan Hoffman of Crowell & Moring*. Susie talks to us about her career, the firm’s pro bono program and foundation, the “loaned lawyer” program, 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

July 6, 2017

Membership Has Its Privileges

More than 40 firms have already 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, and we are grateful for their support.

As a member firm, you will have access to a variety of services and resources designed to help you create and maintain a successful pro bono program, such as expert consultative services, discounted registration to the PBI Annual Conference, free publications, webinars, and the members-only section of the Project’s Resource Clearinghouse. 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!