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2012 Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award

Jane Sherburne and BNY Mellon

The Pro Bono Institute’s annual Laurie D. Zelon Award honors Judge Zelon’s pro bono leadership and her singular contributions to improving justice. The 2012 Laurie D. Zelon Award is given to Jane Sherburne and the Legal Department of BNY Mellon, a global leader in investment management and investment services, in recognition of their outstanding commitment to community and pro bono services.

Senior Executive Vice President and BNY Mellon General Counsel Jane Sherburne has been a driving force in support of pro bono service throughout her legal career. Sherburne has lent support to the efforts of numerous public interest organizations, serving on the boards of the National Women’s Law Center, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, and The Legal Aid Society. From 1994 to 1997, Sherburne served as Special Counsel to President Clinton. She was also appointed by President Obama to serve on the 10-member Advisory Council of the Administrative Conference of the United States, a non-partisan panel devoted to improving government agency procedures and operations.

In 2010, Sherburne tasked BNY Mellon’s Legal Department with formalizing its pro bono efforts in line with the company’s global footprint and commitment to service in the communities in which its employees live and work. With Sherburne’s strong support and leadership, BNY Mellon launched a global pro bono legal program that unites the efforts of its Legal Department in four U.S. cities, as well as Hong Kong and London. As Sherburne has said, “Pro bono opens up a world of opportunity for our employees to get involved in new challenges, helps our lawyers fulfill their professional obligations, and affects the lives of people in our communities in meaningful and lasting ways.” Sherburne felt strongly that the global pro bono program not be limited to one location or issue. In addition, BNY Mellon’s global pro bono program is designed to provide a legal component to the company’s key strategic philanthropic and community outreach priorities: helping to provide urgent basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and disaster relief, and promoting long-term workforce development through training, education, mentoring, and skills development programs that can lead to better jobs and self-sufficiency. Within those two broad and important Community Partnership categories, the Legal Department supports a variety of pro bono projects assisting people in need around the world. Those projects include providing legal services to micro-entrepreneurs starting new businesses in New York, assisting foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong with employment and immigration matters, working with U.S. veterans with combat-related disabilities to secure benefits, helping 9/11 victims navigate the Victims Compensation Fund, helping the disabled retain Medicaid and Medicare benefits and participating in national election monitoring programs in the U.S.

With guidance and assistance from Corporate Pro Bono, BNY Mellon has dedicated the time and resources needed to construct a strong structure to enable the entire Legal Department to participate effectively and efficiently in the program. BNY Mellon’s program is led by 19 attorney and non-attorney staff members who serve on committees and/or as regional and national coordinators. The pro bono team selected themes and projects; and consulted with potential legal service organizations and law firm partners; as well as created project notification processes and tracking mechanisms. BNY Mellon has also created an internal microsite that houses forms and documents, and serves as a communications hub for the program.