About the 2016 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award
Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO), the global partnership project of Pro Bono Institute and the Association of Corporate Counsel, is proud to present the 2016 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award to Entergy Corporation, in partnership with the Louisiana Civil Justice Center (LCJC) and the Orleans Parish Civil District Court, for their collaborative development of the Self Help Resource Center (SHRC). The SHRC is a help desk that assists thousands of unrepresented low-income and vulnerable domestic court litigants in the Greater New Orleans area. Launched by the Civil District Court with significant help from Entergy’s legal department, the initiative exemplifies the value and influence of leadership by in-house legal departments in the area of pro bono service.
A signatory to the CPBO Challenge® initiative, Entergy began expanding its pro bono efforts in 2012, seeking to boost its legal department’s commitment to assisting vulnerable individuals in communities that Entergy serves. Since then, the 75-member department provided more than 6,000 hours of pro bono services through the end of 2015, which includes time spent by attorneys working at the SHRC. In addition to its work on the SHRC, the department’s pro bono projects include staffing local clinics, representing low income individuals, and providing legal work for nonprofit organizations and charter school districts.
New Orleans is one of the poorest major cities in the U.S. and the local family court judges estimate that more than half of the litigants are unrepresented. In 2013, Entergy partnered with the Court to more fully implement and support the SHRC, and LCJC joined the partnership in mid-2014, ensuring dedicated staffing and administration. Each week at the SHRC, volunteer attorneys assist self-represented litigants with domestic legal issues by completing court forms, filing pleadings, and conducting legal research on a case-by-case basis. Through Entergy’s leadership, the SHRC has become the first stop for unrepresented individuals struggling with domestic issues in Orleans Parish with an average of 25 visitors a day. Since 2013, SHRC has served nearly 8,000 individuals with domestic legal issues. More than 95 percent of those visitors have resolved their issues as a result of their visit. The SHRC helps unclog the Court’s dockets, reduces the burden on the judges’ staff, and promotes the principle that the courts are open and fair to all, creating a widespread and lasting impact on the target community.
As a leader in the legal community, Entergy has consistently challenged itself to create new and efficient models of delivering legal services to those in need. Entergy attorneys partnered with the Court to establish uniform pleadings for the SHRC and the legal department developed its own scheduling system for shifts at the help desk and created an innovative onsite training model for new volunteers as well as an online system to track and recruit outside volunteers from across the region. Additionally, Entergy strongly encouraged its in-house attorneys, its summer law clerks, as well as attorneys from other departments and local law firms, to volunteer their time at the desk.
This delivery model was so successful within Orleans Parish that Entergy was asked to assist with creating a second help desk at the 24th Judicial District Court in neighboring Jefferson Parish. While smaller in scale, the help desk has also been extremely impactful, having assisted more than 2,800 clients in less than two years.
Fifty-three percent of all of Entergy’s in-house attorneys, including more than 60 percent of those in New Orleans, have participated in the pro bono initiative. Entergy has also taken tangible steps toward sustaining the partnership, providing regular volunteers and awarding financial grants to LCJC that ensure consistent administration of the program.
Entergy’s commitment to pro bono is exemplified through its well-crafted delivery model and sustained partnership with LCJC and the Court. This partnership demonstrates Entergy’s record of leading by example in promoting in-house pro bono nationwide. Working together, the partners’ efforts have served more than 10,000 vulnerable people struggling with domestic issues. CPBO congratulates Entergy, LCJC, and the Civil District Court for their continued collaboration and invaluable impact.
Executive Vice President and General Counsel
Marcus V. Brown is executive vice president and general counsel of Entergy Corporation. Headquartered in New Orleans, Entergy is an integrated energy company that owns and operates regulated and merchant power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of generating capacity. The company’s utility business serves nearly three million customers in four states in the U.S. Gulf South; its merchant portfolio, among the strongest in the country, comprises nuclear plants that primarily serve the country’s northeastern states, including the New York metropolitan area.
As general counsel, Brown is responsible for all legal, ethics and compliance matters affecting Entergy and its subsidiaries, including providing counsel to the chairman and CEO, board of directors and senior management. Brown leads the federal policy, regulatory and governmental affairs, and corporate communications groups and also leads the company’s approximately 75 attorneys in 10 jurisdictional offices and six practice groups, handling major transactions, regulatory proceedings, nuclear matters, ethics and compliance, litigation, environmental and employment issues.
Brown served as senior vice president and general counsel from January 2012 through August 2013; prior to that, he was vice president and deputy general counsel, where he was responsible for commercial and general litigation, affiliate rules compliance, bankruptcy, casualty litigation, consumer law, right of way, and records management.
Following hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike, Brown led the company’s effort to recover more than $500 million in insurance proceeds, which were critical to rebuilding the damaged electric and gas infrastructure of Entergy’s utility system. He was an instrumental member of the team that helped Entergy New Orleans successfully emerge from bankruptcy. Recently, he led the successful challenge to several Vermont statutes impacting the future operations of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.
Prior to joining Entergy in 1995, Brown practiced with the New Orleans-based Stone Pigman law firm.
Under Brown’s leadership, and in honor of its effective diversity and inclusion efforts, the Minority Corporate Counsel Association selected the Entergy Legal Department as its 2013 Employer of Choice-South Region. Following Brown’s 2012 initiative to increase the company’s commitment to provide legal assistance to some of its most vulnerable customers, the New Orleans Pro Bono Project named Entergy its 2013 Pro Bono Law Firm of the year. Entergy’s Legal Department was also a finalist in Corporate Counsel Magazine’s 2014 Best Corporate Legal Departments in America competition.
Brown received his B.A. from Southern University A&M College and a Juris Doctor from the Southern University Law Center, where he was a member of the Law Review. He received his MBA from the Tulane University A.B. Freeman School of Business in 2002.
Brown was honored with the SULC’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2010 and was named to the SULC Alumni Hall of Fame in 2011. He is also a CareerFOCUS Magazine 2012 Eagle Award Recipient.
Brown serves on the Board of Trustees for the Norman Francis Leadership Institute and the Advisory Council for the Louisiana State University Laborde Energy Law Center. He is a frequent lecturer and publisher on topics impacting the utility industry and the legal profession.