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.
About the CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award
In recognition of the unique role partnerships between and among in-house legal departments, law firms, and public interest groups play in the provision of pro bono legal services, Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO), the global partnership project of Pro Bono Institute and the Association of Corporate Counsel, created the CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award.
The award honors legal departments and the organizations with which they partner in the provision of legal services to those in need. The awardees are departments, law firms, and public interest organizations that have demonstrated an impact on their community through their partnership project, shown substantial involvement in the project by in-house lawyers, made tangible steps toward sustaining the relationship among the partners, developed innovative substantive or structural approaches in support of the partnership’s effort, and addressed a critical legal need or assisted a particularly vulnerable community or target group.
Over the years, the impact and innovation of the projects supported by the awardees have been tremendously important both in the projects’ ability to address the legal needs of the communities being served and in the role the partnerships have played in supporting and furthering pro bono work, especially within the corporate community. Through these partnerships, legal departments, law firms, and public interest organizations have devised programs that contribute to the legal profession’s efforts to close the justice gap and that create strong legacies of effective pro bono service.