The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It

Law Firm Pro Bono

March 1, 2018

Schedule Your Summer Associate Programming Today!

We’re hearing more and more about summer associates’ interest in pro bono from our law firm leader stakeholders. Pro bono has grown in significance as part of the summer associate experience and is now a crucial differentiator as talented law students make decisions about their futures. As benefit for our members, each year, Law Firm Pro Bono Project staff members participate in a number of informational programs, during which we, along with firm partners, directors, managers, coordinators, associates, and pro bono committee members, make presentations on and discuss an array of pro bono-related topics, such as:

  • the relationship of pro bono to professional and skill development;
  • national trends in pro bono;
  • “hot” and emerging areas in pro bono;
  • developments in in-house pro bono;
  • pro bono and access to justice current events; and
  • the particular operations of the firm’s pro bono program and new initiatives.

We aim to inspire and engage. These events are important representations of a firm’s commitment to pro bono and are useful tools for orienting and engaging your newest recruits. Put our consulting services to work for your firm. We are happy to tailor our participation and the program design to your firm’s specific needs.

If your member law firm is interested in scheduling and designing a meeting (which may be conducted in person or by video) as part of your summer associate program, please contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Elysse DeRita. Please note that it may not be possible to fill all requests this year, so schedule your event soon.

February 19, 2018

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday: A Conversation with Michelle Movahed

This week we talk with Michelle Movahed of McCarter & English* on the Pro Bono Happy Hour podcast. She shares her schooling and career journey from participating in housing rights clinics at Fordham Law School to helping families recover from natural disasters in Brooklyn and expanding women’s rights to healthcare at public interest organizations to taking her talents to Big Law at McCarter & English.

Her biggest takeaway from her transition from working as a social justice lawyer to working for a well-resourced law firm? “Nobody has said ‘no’ to me.” “People not only say ‘yes,’ but they come and provide services and it’s been really amazing.” Michelle takes us inside the firm’s diverse pro bono projects including assisting asylum-seekers in partnership with Brooklyn Defender Services, offering traditional poverty law services at all of their office locations, and providing services to veterans.

Michelle is inspired by the firm’s management’s active pro bono participation which speaks volumes to others within the firm. “The thing that incentivizes and motivates people is seeing the firm management not only saying ‘You should be doing pro bono’, but doing it themselves… Our executive committee – almost completely – has participated in pro bono in the last year.”

Take 25 minutes to hear from Michelle about how she became “hooked on public service” and her dedication to providing asylum-seekers, especially unaccompanied minors, with thoughtful and excellent pro bono services.

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 make it easier for other listeners to find the show. The podcast is also available on YouTube. Links to all of our episodes can be found here.

Listen 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

February 15, 2018

Snack and Socialize at the 2018 Pro Bono EXPO and Happy Hour (Part Four)

The PBEye recently provided a preview of the public interest organizations that will be featured during the Pro Bono EXPO and Happy Hour (February 22, 3:45 to 5:00 p.m.) at the 2018 PBI Annual Conference.

Table hosts will share emerging issues, strategies, and innovations; answer questions; and provide information about cutting-edge pro bono opportunities available to your law firm or legal department. This is a unique time to mingle, forge productive relationships and partnerships with public interest organizations from across the U.S. and around the world, and develop new pro bono initiatives.  We are excited to conclude our preview with these additional hosts:

Click here for a current list of all host organizations. We hope to see you next week!

If you have any questions about the Conference or need assistance with registration, please email events@probonoinst.org or call 202.370.6770.

February 12, 2018

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday: A Conversation with Scott Hunt

This week on the Pro Bono Happy Hour podcast, we talk with Scott Hunt of Armstrong Teasdale*† about his career, the firm’s pro bono program, inspiring the next generation, food deserts, and more. As a tax lawyer, Scott shares how non-litigators can actively participate in pro bono work and serve people in need.

Scott serves on an amazing nine nonprofit boards and his areas of interest are diverse. One of the organizations he supports is The Link Market, an innovative model of modular grocery stores that are located along St. Louis’ light rail system to offer high-quality and affordable food. This work is vital inasmuch as there are 15 recognized “food deserts,” or areas where residents lack access to nutritious food, in St. Louis. The Link Market also supports a network of local farmers and community gardens by buying their produce to resell at the markets. Looking to learn more about food deserts and how pro bono lawyers can be of help? Check out the Law Fir Pro Bono Project’s publication “Food for Thought: Improving Access to Nutrition.”

Scott also works with Pianos for People. Building on research that demonstrates powerful benefits to children from having a piano in their home, this nonprofit fields donations of acoustic pianos and then places them in the homes of at-risk children and other community members in need. They also offer music lessons and public concerts.

Armstrong Teasdale has long been a pro bono pioneer. The firm was a founding member of PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project and, more recently, the firm embarked on an innovative partnership with in-house legal departments and Legal Services of Eastern Missouri.

Why does Scott maintain such an active pro bono practice? “It gives you the opportunity to meet truly fascinating people who devote their professional lives to helping others with no real opportunity of financial gain, I’ve met some truly amazing people.” Take 30 minutes to learn from Scott about Armstrong Teasdale’s inspiring pro bono program and come cool things happening in St. Louis.

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 make it easier for other listeners to find the show. The podcast is also available on YouTube. Links to all of our episodes can be found here.

Listen 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

 

February 8, 2018

Conference Sneak Peek: First Do No Harm: Emerging Ethics Issues in Immigration Pro Bono

The 2018 PBI Annual Conference is less than two weeks away. Join us on February 22, from 9:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m., for First Do No Harm: Emerging Ethics Issues in Immigration Pro Bono. The increase in enforcement activity and use of detention pose new ethical concerns for practitioners. How do you evaluate whether the risks of applying for a particular benefit, even before United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), outweigh the possible gain? When is it better to leave well enough alone? What if the only choices are between two risky options? How do you handle the duty of confidentiality when some of the risks are to non-client family members? How to answer the “what if” questions if the answers mean your client may not appear for a hearing or interview?  Who makes the decision about how to proceed, especially if your client is a child? Can any pro bono volunteer satisfy the duty of competence in this climate?

We are grateful to our panel of experts who will be sharing their experiences and expertise:

Interested in learning more?  Check out episodes of the Pro Bono Happy Hour, the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast; including Karen Grisez’s recent episode and our episode featuring KIND. Subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour in Apple Podcasts and check out links to recent episodes here.

Curious about KIND and the American Immigration Council? Visit their tables at our Pro Bono EXPO and Happy Hour later in the day from 3:45 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

If you have any questions about the Conference or need assistance with registration, please email events@probonoinst.org or call 202.370.6770.

February 5, 2018

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday: A Conversation with Mary Benton

Mary Benton of Alston & Bird* joins us this week the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour, to discuss the firm’s proud pro bono history and exciting current projects. One of the firm’s founders – Phillip Alston – was a signatory to the resolution that created the Atlanta Legal Aid Society. Mary shared tips on how she boosts participation by recognizing and publicly acknowledging attorneys for their pro bono work. She and her team actively look for ways to thank people, including nominating them for awards presented by legal services organizations and other volunteer recognition programs. The firm itself has also been honored with numerous awards for outstanding pro bono achievement, including the Pro Bono Institute’s John H. Pickering Award in 2013.

Mary describes herself as “passionate about children and education,” and has been involved with the Truancy Invention   (TIP) for more than 20 years. TIP “provides resources and intervention services to children who are chronically absent from school and, as a result, either become involved with the local juvenile court or are referred for early intervention at the school level.”

We also discussed the firm’s involvement with the Appleseed Network and Georgia Appleseed. Mary admires that Appleseed “advocate[s] on a systemic level so we don’t keep coming up on the same problems over and over.” She also shares an inspiring story about the firm’s work on an Innocence Project case involving a client who was held in prison without an appeal for 19 years. Take 55 minutes to listen to Mary’s episode and get fired up about improving access to the legal system.

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 make it easier for other listeners to find the show. The podcast is also available on YouTube. Links to all of our episodes can be found here.

Listen 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

February 1, 2018

Snack and Socialize at the 2018 Pro Bono EXPO and Happy Hour (Part Three)

Have you heard? Our 2018 Annual Conference is right around the corner! The PBEye recently provided a preview of the public interest organizations that will be hosting tables and ready to mix and mingle with attendees during the Pro Bono EXPO and Happy Hour (February 22, 3:45 to 5:00 p.m.).

Table hosts will share emerging issues, strategies, and innovations; answer questions; and provide valuable insights into cutting-edge pro bono opportunities available to your law firm or legal department. This is a unique time to make connections, forge productive relationships and partnerships with public interest organizations from across the U.S. and around the world, and develop impactful new pro bono initiatives.  We are excited to continue our preview of this year’s EXPO hosts. Meet and connect with these table hosts:

Make sure to check The PBEye in the coming weeks for more table hosts!

Don’t miss your last chance to save hundreds of dollars on regular registration rates before they increase tomorrow. Register today! If you have any questions about the Conference or need assistance with registration, please email events@probonoinst.org or call 202.370.6770.

January 29, 2018

It’s Pro Bono Podcast Monday: A Conversation with Karen Grisez

Karen Grisez of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson*† is our guest this week on the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast, the Pro Bono Happy Hour. Karen, a pro bono legend, shares her career journey from legal secretary to paralegal to lawyer. She joined Fried Frank because of its staff diversity and support for pro bono matters. The firm has long been invested in making pro bono part of the firm culture – it was the third firm in Washington, DC to create a full-time Public Service Counsel position. Karen accepted that role in 1996, and still holds it today. Her advancement at the firm grew out of her willingness to do as much pro bono work as she could.

One of her most meaningful pro bono cases was one she handled as a first-year associate at the start of her career.  She helped restore monthly benefits for a WWII veteran just weeks before his and his wife’s 50th wedding anniversary. The couple were so appreciative, they bought her a ticket to attend their anniversary party because without her support, there would have been no party. For many years, Karen kept in touch with the couple, saying: “some cases transcend the attorney/client relationship and lead to true, long lasting friendships.” Pro bono can be just as rewarding for legal professionals as it is for clients.  Karen wrote about her emotional experience in a moving article, Pro Bono From the Heart.  Give it a read and keep the Kleenex nearby.

Karen also discusses her strategies for inspiring legal professionals at the firm to do pro bono.  They don’t take a “one size fits all approach.” Instead, she and her team get to know the person, what skills they would like to learn, what issues matter most to them, and what obstacles might stand in their way of doing pro bono. Take 35 minutes to listen to our wide-ranging and inspiring conversation with Karen.

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 make it easier for other listeners to find the show. The podcast is also available on YouTube. Links to all of our episodes can be found here.

Listen 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

January 25, 2018

Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Reporting Is Now Open

Reporting season for the 20177 calendar year is now open. We have emailed unique survey links to all Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® signatories, so be sure to check your spam filter if you did not receive yours. The deadline for reporting is March 22.

Each year, Challenge Signatories provide a brief, electronic report to the Law Firm Pro Bono Project on their progress in meeting the Challenge. The individual firm data is kept confidential, but each submission provides the basis for critically important aggregate statistics about trends in law firm pro bono.

In 2016, Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® signatories contributed:

  • Approximately 4.7 million hours of pro bono service.
  • Sixty-two pro bono hours per attorney.
  • And average of $503,875 in charitable donations to legal services organizations per firm.

Wondering how 2017’s data matches up? Please assist us in communicating the good news about the pro bono work of law firms to our colleagues in the legal profession and to the public with your prompt submission of the electronic reporting form. Let us know about your firm’s accomplishments and news.

Since 1993, the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®, administered by PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono 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.

Interested in joining your peer firms and becoming a Challenge Signatory? Firms with 50 or more lawyers are welcome to join the Challenge at any point in the year and are given a grace period before the reporting requirement kicks in. Please contact Law Firm Project Assistant Elysse DeRita for more information on becoming a Signatory and a leader in law firm pro bono.

January 11, 2018

Conference Sneak Peek: Pro Bono in the UK

The 2018 PBI Annual Conference is next month and one of this year’s highlights is a session about pro bono and legal needs in the United Kingdom.

Pro Bono in the UK is designed for law firm attendees who are interested in how to get their UK lawyers involved in pro bono. Join us on February 21, from 2:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m., to discuss pro bono opportunities in the United Kingdom. Curious about Brexit?  Vaguely familiar with the Collaborative Plan?  Concerned about legal aid funding in the UK and what that means for unmet legal needs and priorities? This session will explore these questions and more! We are grateful to our panel of experts who will be sharing their experiences and expertise:

Interested in learning more?  Check out episodes of the Pro Bono Happy Hour, the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s podcast; featuring guests from across the pond:  Rebecca Naylor of Reed Smith*† and Nic Patrick of DLA Piper*†. You can subscribe to the Pro Bono Happy Hour in Apple Podcasts and links to all of the episodes can be found here.

If you have any questions about the Conference or need assistance with registration, please email events@probonoinst.org or call 202.370.6770.

* denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® signatory

† denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Project® member