The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It


March 1, 2017

Looking Back at “A Conversation with Tim Mayopoulos”

PBI welcomed friends and supporters in Washington, DC on Wednesday, January 25, for the second program in the Esther F. Lardent Leadership in Pro Bono Series, launched in 2016. Hosted by Microsoft, dozens of pro bono advocates gathered for a candid discussion featuring Tim Mayopoulos, President and CEO of Fannie Mae, and long-time champion of pro bono. Mayopoulos was joined by Stasia Kelly, Co-Managing Partner (Americas), DLA Piper, and Marc Fleischaker, Counsel and Chair Emeritus, Arent Fox, who moderated the discussion with robust audience participation.

Mayopoulos opened by sharing the profound ripple effect a simple act – signing the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® statement (while General Counsel at Bank of America) – had on Bank of America’s legal department, their law firm counterparts, and even other companies. He also talked about the lessons he learned from that simple act, including the importance of prioritizing values, like service to community, and how those values shaped his career and his perspectives on leadership.  Mayopoulos noted that corporate leaders can play a unique role on important social justice issues by engaging those around them, including lawmakers and other decision makers.

Noting the highly-charged political climate, Fleischaker and Kelly discussed big law’s efforts around current access to justice issues. Kelly stated that there is a lot of energy which mobilizes people, but that a values alignment with stakeholders remains important. Audience members advised following the lead of legal services providers and cautioned taking reflexive action without adequate information. The panelists agreed that while some individual issues may be partisan, other areas like ensuring access to courts and protecting rule of law are not only broadly supported, but imperative to a well-functioning society.

On the topic of building coalitions, the panelists agreed that, working in concert, the legal community can influence important access to justice issues.  PBI’s President and CEO Eve Runyon and Association of Corporate Counsel’s CEO Veta Richardson described a successful effort in partnership with local ACC chapters, bar associations, and other stakeholders to expand the ability of in-house counsel to engage in pro bono across jurisdictions. ACC and PBI drafted letters of support which hundreds of general counsels signed resulting in rules changes in more than 13 jurisdictions. A similar effort may be recommended if the new administration proposes shifts in important initiatives and resources.

PBI thanks event sponsors: Fannie Mae, Arent Fox, and Tom Gottschalk of Kirkland & Ellis for their support.

June 30, 2011

Coming Soon: Law Firm Project Membership

The time is quickly approaching when your firm will be able to sign up or renew as a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project for 2011-2012.  Be sure to check your inbox next week for a membership form.

Forms received before September 1, 2011 will receive a 10 percent discount.   And new and exciting benefits will be available to Members this year, such as deeper discounts for registration to the 2012 Seminar/Forum, access to new regional leadership convocations, and all PBI publications free of charge!

Special congratulations to our first renewing Member firm of 2011-2012: Troutman Sanders LLP.  We look forward to welcoming new Member firms in the coming weeks.

March 25, 2011

The Wire: News You Can Use

In case you missed it, this month’s Wire e-newsletter is out, and it’s chock-full of goodies!  There’s a Letter From Esther on the power of pro bono summits (something we’ve discussed here before), call for nominations for the CPBO Partner Award, a recap of our Seminar/Forum Reception (with pictures!)and a reminder about Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® reporting.  But the pièce de résistance is the video from the Seminar/Forum of Esther Lardent’s State of Pro Bono address.  And you’re in luck, because we’ve got the video for you, below (in two parts). Check it out:

March 24, 2011

Thank Up

We received a suggestion from one of our 2011 Seminar/Forum attendees on how legal services providers can better publicize their appreciation for pro bono assistance within a law firm or corporation with which they partnered:

“Make sure that, in addition to thanking the individual attorneys, legal service providers also ‘thank up’ the chain to show value, then the thank yous will funnel down.”

Making leadership aware of the efforts of their pro bono lawyers can spread institution-wide awareness and may inspire more lawyers to participate in future projects and partnerships

And while we’re talking about thanks, we’d like to thank YOU — our 2011 Seminar/Forum attendees for filling out evaluations so that we can better plan for upcoming publications, webinars, and the 2012 Seminar/Forum.  We value your views and suggestions — keep ’em coming!

March 17, 2011

Interested in a House Call?

Do you need help taking the ideas you learned at the 2011 Seminar/Forum and putting them into practice?  Are you taking full advantage of your Law Firm Pro Bono Project Member Benefits?  Why not invite the Law Firm Project for a visit!

The Law Firm Project provides a technical assistance program for Member law firms called House Calls, where Project Director Tammy Taylor and Assistant Director Reena Glazer visit law firms in a community, meet with pro bono committees, firm and office leaders, partners, and pro bono coordinators to discuss national trends in pro bono and to learn about innovative pro bono projects under way at their firms and in their communities.  Since 2007, we’ve had successful house call trips around the country, and as far as the U.K. and Australia.

If you are interested in a house call visit to your community, please contact Tammy Taylor.  The details and agenda of the meeting can be tailored to meet your needs, and focus on issues of concern and interest to you and your firm.  Please note that it may not be possible to fill all requests this year.  If your travels bring you to Washington, D.C., let us know – we’d be delighted to meet with you at your convenience.  This benefit is provided free of charge to Member law firms.

March 10, 2011

Roll Out the Red Carpet

It was a pro bono-star-studded night last Friday at the Pro Bono Institute’s Seminar/Forum Reception, and The PBEye was on hand to catch the proceedings.  Awards were presented to both Intel Corporation and Judge Robert A. Katzmann for their outstanding commitment to pro bono.

Intel Corporation received the 2011 Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award, in recognition of their pro bono work, which focuses on issues including guardianship for minor children, special education advocacy, domestic violence counseling and support, and small business clinical work. Intel attorneys and staff also provide support for low-income entrepreneur counseling and representation, housing clinics, and bankruptcy and debt counseling.

Intel's Suzan Miller and Doug Melamed, with Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky

Judge Robert A. Katzmann, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, received the Chesterfield Smith Award in recognition of his dedication to pro bono, in particular in the area of immigration.  Judge Katzmann’s professional perspective as an academic, think-tank fellow, and federal judge has given him incredible insight into pro bono. His long-time commitment to seeing that those most in need are given fair access to the judicial system has drawn the attention of his peers on the bench, high-powered attorneys, government officials, and academics alike, and has resulted in greater attention being focused on the plight of immigrants.  Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg presented Katzmann with the award.  You can check out a great interview with Judge Katzmann about the award in The National Law Journal, here.

The Honorable Robert A. Katzmann receives the Chesterfield Smith Award from Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The PBEye congratulates all of our award winners and commends them for their contributions to the pro bono community!  You weren’t there?  No problem — you can listen to the audio of the awards presentation using the player below.

March 9, 2011

Sorry We Missed You

If weren’t able to attend the PBI 2011 Annual Seminar and Forum on In-House Pro Bono, you missed our best program yet.  But don’t feel too bad because The PBEye was on hand to fill you in on the best three days of pro bono in 2011.

We had an excellent turnout with more than 300 attendees.  Our speakers and participants were remarkable, and as always we were happy to learn as much as we could from them about pro bono.  Below are some nuggets on the best of what the Seminar/Forum had to offer.

Law Firm Pro Bono 101
So much information, so little time! Extra special this year was the diversity of the attendees: geographic diversity (California, New Jersey, Minneapolis, Australia, Canada, Britain and beyond) and position diversity (non-attorney coordinators to firm/office managing partners).  We also had a great mix of experienced and relative newcomers sharing ideas and learning from each other.  It was a great start to the Seminar/Forum.

And just as a reminder, you don’t have to wait until next year’s Seminar/Forum for help getting your pro bono program off the ground.  PBI offers consulting services if you are starting or looking to start a pro bono program at your law firm or corporate legal department.

Master Class
This year’s class brought together some of the greatest minds in pro bono to share ideas on how to keep blazing the trail.  Attendees discussed striking the fine balance between promoting the social good and finding the business value of pro bono.  It requires careful examination of legal services needs, the firm’s capacity, and strategic planning for the program to align with the firm’s goals. But it also requires a certain realism about how practicing pro bono can help the firm’s business while working toward the larger goal of contributing to the public good. Read more…

March 1, 2011

Get the Corporate Perspective

Our friends at CPBO have provided technical assistance and support to hundreds of legal departments, large and small. At this year’s Seminar and Forum on In-House Pro Bono, the session “Corporate Client Perspective” will offer an overview of in-house pro bono and will address the growth of pro bono within legal departments.  The discussion will focus on the concrete and practical implications of pro bono milestones and developments—such as CPBO’s Corporate Pro Bono ChallengeSM 100—and will consider how these developments impact law firms and public interest organizations.

General counsel and in-house pro bono leaders will share their predictions about future changes in expectations and practice in in-house pro bono and will address the following questions based on their personal experiences:

  • What does it mean for a legal department to be committed to pro bono?
  • What are some of the obstacles to sustaining a formal in-house pro bono program?
  • In what direction is in-house pro bono moving?
  • What role can law firms and public interest organizations play in in-house pro bono?

To learn more about the corporate client perspective, register for the Seminar/Forum today and attend this session Friday, March 4 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.  And to learn more about other exciting sessions, look at the session descriptions now online.   If you have questions or would like to register for the Seminar/Forum, please send an email to or call 202.973.8720. 

February 28, 2011

Pro Bono Publicity? Yes, Please!

It’s just days to go until the 2011 Seminar and Forum on In-House Pro Bono, and The PBEye is starting to get excited!  We’ve been going over the session descriptions for things that stand out, and one session that looks particularly interesting is the Pro Bono Public Relations Primer on Friday, March 4, from 2:45 to 3:45 p.m.

If you’re interested in blowing your proverbial pro bono horn, here’s where you’ll learn just how to do it!  This introductory session will explore how to effectively publicize your pro bono efforts and successes to create buzz around your program, both externally and internally. How can you utilize the available expertise and resources, along with mainstream and social media, to attract new pro bono volunteers, enhance your pro bono program’s reputation, increase visibility for your institution and pro bono program, and secure new pro bono opportunities, including high-profile representations?

This roundtable session promises tips and tricks for how you can shine the light on your pro bono efforts.  And with experts like APCO Worldwide’s Kent Jarrell and The National Law Journal‘s Tony Mauro, this session will not disappoint!

February 24, 2011

Project Management – A New Addition to Your Pro Bono Toolkit

As corporate clients demand more value for their dollar from their outside counsel, law firms are grappling with the question of how to deliver predictable pricing and high-quality services on time and on budget. Law firms are challenged to meet these demands while maintaining profitability and lawyer satisfaction.

One potentially valuable tool that has been used for years in other areas of business, such as construction, marketing, manufacturing, and sales, is project management, an established method for planning work, tracking progress, and reporting status and changes. As a result, many firms are taking a page from the corporate world and turning to the discipline of project management — in which they look to unbundle the various stages and tasks associated with a matter so that each piece of the work can be assessed and improved, waste is eliminated, and the best personnel for each stage can be deployed.

To explore this cutting-edge trend, we will offer an exciting program exclusively for law firm attendees as part of the 2011 Annual Seminar and Forum on In-House Pro Bono: Project Management Tools for Pro Bono (Thursday, March 3, 1:45 to 2:45 p.m.). This new session will include a primer on law firm project management and how project management tools and best practices can be applied to pro bono practice to increase operational efficiency and improve outcomes. What does the adoption of project management mean for law firm pro bono? How can you apply prudent and robust management practices to pro bono projects to increase efficiencies and improve outcomes? How might you integrate pro bono and project management to increase partner engagement in pro bono?

Whether your law firm is already applying the principles and methodologies of project management to meet client expectations and achieve its own strategic business objectives or still considering implementation, this session is certain to be thought-provoking. We are delighted that Carla Landry, a senior director of Hildebrand Baker Robbins and a senior consultant in the company’s Law Firm Strategy and Structure Group will be sharing her expertise and joining PBI’s Esther Lardent as facilitators for this intriguing program.

If you have questions or still need to register for the Seminar/Forum, please send an email to or call 202.973.8720. Looking forward to seeing you soon!

    Older Posts >