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Corporate Pro Bono Applauds Virginia’s Revised In-House Pro Bono Rule

April 19, 2011

Contact: Christina Gordon
Phone: 202.729.6696
E-mail: cgordon@probonoinst.org

Washington, D.C. — April 19 — Corporate Pro Bono applauds the Virginia Supreme Court for amending its rules to remove restrictions on certified in-house attorneys providing pro bono work in the state.  Certified in-house counsel are those attorneys employed by corporations who, while licensed to practice in good standing in at least one jurisdiction, are not admitted to practice in Virginia.  State rules permit these lawyers to practice for their in-state employer, but had placed major hurdles on providing pro bono services to needy clients.  This change empowers the more than 800 in-house attorneys in Virginia who are certified to work in-house to directly provide desperately needed assistance to low-income individuals and organizations.  The rule change addresses the growing gap between the need for legal assistance and the need for pro bono.

Last year, at a summit on pro bono coordinated by the Virginia Bar, Randal Milch, executive vice president and general counsel of Verizon Communications Inc., spoke about the importance of pro bono work. He cited the obstacles for in-house counsel who wished to do pro bono, and urged the court and bar to change its rules.

“Verizon commends the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Virginia State Bar, and the Virginia Bar Association for so quickly changing the rules that limited the opportunities for in-house counsel to provide pro bono service to Commonwealth’s neediest residents,” Milch said. “Virginia now stands as a leader in the cause of freeing the needlessly restricted capabilities of in-house counsel to provide pro bono service. Virginia’s new rule is an ideal model for other jurisdictions to follow. Verizon’s attorneys in the Commonwealth look forward to expanding their pro bono work under this outstanding new regime.”

“During the past decade we’ve seen an increase in the number of in-house lawyers committed to pro bono,” said Pro Bono Institute President and CEO Esther F. Lardent. “This rule recognizes the growing interest and levels of participation among in-house counsel and takes full advantage of that increased momentum.  By simplifying the process, the rule now permits in-house counsel to provide pro bono assistance while broadening the opportunities in which those lawyers are able to participate.”

Frederick J. Krebs, president of the Association of Corporate Counsel said, “I commend the Virginia Supreme Court for this rule that will increase the number of attorneys who are able to provide pro bono service to those in desperate need of assistance.”

About Corporate Pro Bono
Corporate Pro Bono, a partnership project of the Pro Bono Institute and the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), is designed to substantially increase the amount of pro bono work performed by in-house counsel and to enhance the pro bono culture of in-house legal departments through technical assistance to the in-house community, targeted research and publications, online information and services, and outreach and educational programming. Corporate Pro Bono also works closely with ACC chapters to focus their resources and agendas on pro bono service.