Home » Newsroom » Press Releases » Corporate Pro Bono Honors the Ford Motor Company, Dykema Gossett PLLC, Legal Aid and Defender Association, Inc., and Michigan Community Resources for Innovative Community Partnership

Corporate Pro Bono Honors the Ford Motor Company, Dykema Gossett PLLC, Legal Aid and Defender Association, Inc., and Michigan Community Resources for Innovative Community Partnership

November 7, 2012

Contact: David C. Lipscomb
Phone: 202.729.6985
E-mail: dlipscomb@probonoinst.org

Washington, D.C. – November 7 – Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO) announced today that it has selected the Ford Motor Company Office of the General Counsel, Dykema Gossett PLLC,Legal Aid and Defender Association, Inc. (LAD), and Michigan Community Resources (MCR) to receive the CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award for their innovative partnerships to serve the legal needs of individuals and families and local nonprofits. The award, given by CPBO, the global partnership project of the Pro Bono Institute (PBI) and the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), will be presented at the 2012 PBI Annual Dinner on November 15 in New York.

Looking to revamp its pro bono program in 2009, Ford partnered with its fellow awardees to create two new pro bono projects to directly serve community needs and that align its pro bono program with Ford’s corporate social responsibility initiatives: the Food Stamp Clinic and the Nonprofit Survival Series Clinics. “These unique partnerships epitomize using pro bono to help close the justice gap at the local level,” PBI President and CEO Esther F. Lardent said. “We commend these organizations for working together to better serve communities that are in need.”

The Food Stamp Clinic, developed with LAD, was designed to identify individuals and families that are either eligible to receive food stamps and don’t or are not receiving the amount to which they are entitled. In Detroit, more than one-third of the population lives in poverty, making it one of the poorest large cities in America, yet its citizens were underutilizing the food stamp program. With Ford’s help, the partnership has helped hundreds of clinic participants and has identified tens of thousands of dollars in benefits.

The successes of the clinics are due to the dedication of the partners and the Food Stamp Clinic’s inventive practices. For instance, clinics are held at schools to make them easily accessible to the community, and the Michigan Department of Human Services sends representatives to help participants secure benefits. Ford and LAD have also brought in Spanish-speaking volunteers from the Ford Hispanic Network and Wayne State Law School to serve the large Spanish-speaking population. Ford also works with the Ford Fund to offer hot breakfast and other incentives to encourage members of the community to participate.

To address another pressing need, Ford, Dykema, and MCR developed the Nonprofit Survival Series Clinics to help ensure local nonprofits can continue to serve their constituents. At the clinics, Ford attorneys consult with community-based nonprofit organizations to identify legal issues that threaten their viability and ability to operate. At the beginning of each clinic, Dykema attorneys provide training to Ford volunteers on common issues that nonprofits face, particularly recession-related financial pressures and declining resources. More than 40 percent of the attorneys in Ford’s Office of the General Counsel have participated since the first clinic in 2009, and the program continues to expand in response to community need with the launch of a Contract Review Clinic.

“At Ford, we have a strategic goal to provide opportunities for our attorneys to perform meaningful pro bono service,” said David Leitch, general counsel and group vice president of Ford Motor Company. “It’s important to support the communities in which we build and sell vehicles. This award recognizes the hard work of our Ford team and builds the momentum for our pro bono work for 2013.”

Peter Kellett, Dykema chairman and CEO, noted, “Through this innovative program, Dykema was able to provide invaluable assistance to Michigan nonprofits—organizations serving those most in need, who themselves were profoundly affected by the economic downturn. By offering legal strategies and business counsel, Dykema attorneys not only helped strengthen the financial wellbeing of these nonprofits, but fulfilled our longstanding belief that pro bono service is a privilege not just a responsibility.”

The CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award recognizes the unique role partnerships between and among in-house legal departments, law firms, and public interest groups play in increasing access to justice.

“The fact that more than 40 percent of the lawyers in the Ford Motor Company’s Office of General Counsel participated in the clinic just one year after the program commenced speaks volumes to Ford’s dedication and level of commitment,” stated Veta T. Richardson, president and CEO of the Association of Corporate Counsel. “Ford’s leadership and service to the community sets a high standard for all organizations. Most importantly, Ford’s program demonstrates that good corporate citizenship is possible even during times of economic downturns.”

For more information about the award winners, visit the 2012 PBI Annual Dinner webpage.

About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 172,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit http://corporate.ford.com.

About Dykema
Dykema serves business entities worldwide on a wide range of complex legal issues. Dykema lawyers and other professionals in 11 U.S. offices work in close partnership with clients – from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies – to deliver outstanding results, unparalleled service and exceptional value in every engagement. To learn more, visit www.dykema.com and follow Dykema on Twitter http://twitter.com/Dykema.

About Legal Aid and Defender Association, Inc.
LAD is the largest provider of free civil legal services to low-income residents of Michigan. It serves metropolitan Detroit through its offices in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties. It also represents criminal defendants in Wayne County and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Including brief consultations and comprehensive legal services, the public law firm handles some 15,000 legal matters yearly.

“We work with clients in a comprehensive manner, so that as we solve their legal problems, we help solve other problems as well,” Deierdre L. Weir, president and CEO of LAD, said. “We help people rebuild their lives and help families stay together.”

Anyone seeking legal services can call (877) 964-4700 or visit www.ladadetroit.org.

About Michigan Community Resources
Michigan Community Resources supports and empowers Michigan nonprofit community organizations serving low-income communities by providing pro bono legal, educational, technical and community outreach services. The result is stronger organizations and revitalized low-income communities. Key programs include the pro bono referral program, SAFE mini-grants, Vacant Property Education Series, and more. Since 1998, it has served over 750 nonprofit community organizations, leveraged over $12 million in pro bono legal assistance through its pro bono referral program, and provided vacant property related technical assistance on over 200 matters.

About Corporate Pro Bono
Corporate Pro Bono, the global 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.

About the Pro Bono Institute
Established in 1996, PBI is a global nonprofit organization with a mandate to explore and identify new approaches to the poor and disadvantaged unable to secure legal assistance to address critical problems. PBI identifies and develops innovative programs and undertakes rigorous evaluations to ensure that these new approaches are workable and effective.

About the Association of Corporate Counsel
The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is a global bar association that promotes the common professional and business interests of in-house counsel who work for corporations, associations and other private-sector organizations through information, education, networking opportunities and advocacy initiatives. The association, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, has more than 30,000 members in more than 75 countries, employed by over 10,000 organizations, ACC connects its members to the people and resources necessary for both personal and professional growth. By in-house counsel, for in-house counsel.® For more information, visit www.acc.com and follow ACC on Twitter http://twitter.com/ACCinhouse