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2015 Partner Award Winner – Small Law

About the Best Buy and VLN Partnership

Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO), the global pro bono partnership project of Pro Bono Institute (PBI) and the Association of Corporate Council (ACC), is proud to present the 2015 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award – Small Law category to Best Buy Co., Inc. (Best Buy) in partnership with the Volunteer Lawyers Network, Ltd. (VLN) for their decade-long collaboration to assist low-income, unrepresented clients in critical court cases. As a result of their sustained commitment and honed expertise, these projects aid hundreds who cannot afford legal assistance each year with high-caliber assistance.

Best Buy, a signatory to the CPBO Challenge® initiative, first established its department-wide pro bono program in 2004 in response to the Minnesota State Bar Association’s “Call to Honor” which encouraged the state’s legal community to increase their pro bono commitment. When developing the pro bono program, Best Buy sought to partner with a well-established legal services organization that offered onsite training, insurance, and a dependable infrastructure for its volunteers.

Research and careful consideration led Best Buy to VLN, which has provided civil legal services to low-income people through volunteer attorneys since 1966. Since January 2004, Best Buy volunteers have assisted low-income individuals in criminal expungement, unemployment, housing, family law, and other matters. Roughly a third of Best Buy’s 38 attorneys have volunteered with VLN on a variety of project, including its Housing Court Project and Conciliation Court Clinic, assisting more than 1,200 clients.

The Housing Court Project is a walk-in clinic that provides legal advice to low-income tenants by preparing them to present their defenses and explain their situation in housing court. The Conciliation Court Clinic, also known as small claims court, provides legal advice to low-income persons on civil cases involving money claims of $15,000 or less. Twelve Best Buy attorneys participate in either project and spend hundreds of hours annually. These volunteers have built up a substantial knowledge base over the years. This expertise allows VLN to refer some of their most difficult cases, in addition to ones with language or disability barriers, to clinics where Best Buy lawyers will be present to ensure the highest level of services offered to those who need it.

This partnership has resulted in hundreds of indigent clients receiving the high level assistance that is strengthened by the more than decade-long relationship between Best Buy and VLN. Their cooperation making both the Conciliation Court Clinic and Housing Court Project more effective clinics than could previously be offered. CPBO congratulates Best Buy and the Volunteer Lawyers Network for their longstanding partnership and life-changing service.