Advocating for the Right to Practice Pro Bono
Many states and the District of Columbia have rules that permit in-house attorneys, in good standing with the bar in another jurisdiction, to work for their employer without being locally licensed. But this exception does not always extend to providing pro bono services. Even states that do permit non-locally licensed in-house attorneys to provide pro bono services often have unnecessary and burdensome restrictions that limit and discourage in-house attorneys’ pro bono participation. Over the years, Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO) has worked with partners to advocate for legal practice rules that permit non-locally licensed in-house attorneys to do pro bono in the jurisdiction where they work for their employer.
As of 2012, most states did not permit non-locally licensed in-house counsel to engage in pro bono work. To help address this problem, the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) adopted Resolution 11: In Support of Practice Rules Enabling In-House Counsel to Provide Pro Bono Legal Services on July 25, 2012. CCJ — a membership organization consisting of the highest judicial officer of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands — makes recommendations to those jurisdictions about the administration of justice, judicial procedures, and the organization and operation of state courts and judicial systems. CCJ’s purview includes the rules governing who can deliver pro bono legal services.
Resolution 11 encourages jurisdictions to amend their practice rules to permit non-locally licensed in-house counsel to engage in pro bono. CCJ recognized that representation of indigent individuals is essential to the efficient operation of state courts; that the available civil legal assistance resources are inadequate to meet the legal needs of such indigent individuals; and that all members of the legal community (including in-house counsel) have an obligation to participate in increasing access to justice. Resolution 11 also took note of the growth of in-house pro bono, recognizing that dozens of legal departments have formalized their pro bono programs and joined the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® initiative — a simple, voluntary statement of commitment to pro bono service by legal departments, their lawyers and staff. CCJ sought to broaden the rules to permit these in-house lawyers to deliver pro bono legal services with fewer restrictions.
Since Resolution 11, many jurisdictions have reevaluated and reformed their rules to expand non-locally licensed in-house counsels’ eligibility to do pro bono. As it has in previous years, CPBO submitted a letter in January to the Professionalism and Competence of the Bar Committee of CCJ to provide an update on the pro bono practice rules that impact in-house attorneys. CPBO reported that since 2012, more than 15 jurisdictions have amended their rules to permit non-locally licensed in-house counsel to provide pro bono services, and in some cases, without restriction.
CPBO has been working recently to reform pro bono practice rules in California. Currently, California has one of the most restrictive pro bono practice rules for non-locally licensed in-house counsel. CPBO worked with the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) to organize more than 30 chief legal officers and general counsel with legal staff in California to support proposed revisions to permit non-locally licensed in-house counsel registered to work for their employer to also provide pro bono legal services with fewer restrictions than under the current rules. These proposed rules are currently being considered by the California Supreme Court. In its letter to CCJ, CPBO also noted its participation in supporting successful reform in Kansas in 2018, which did not previously have a rule governing non-locally licensed in-house pro bono practice. Additionally, CPBO advocated for reforms in the District of Columbia, which recently streamlined its rules and affirmed D.C.’s authorization for in-house counsel pro bono.
In the coming year, CPBO looks forward to continuing to work with CCJ, in-house legal departments, and the access to justice community to eliminate unnecessary restrictions on in-house pro bono.
For more information about Corporate Pro Bono’s Multijurisdictional Practice Initiative, click here. To learn more about how in-house attorneys and legal departments can join the effort to reform rules that limit pro bono participation, contact CPBO at email@example.com.
Conference Coming Attractions
PBI’s 2019 Annual Conference is right around the corner! This year’s dynamic and engaging sessions will address topics ranging from pro bono challenges faced by local communities to global issues and geopolitical realities. Here are just a few of the many informative sessions being offered this year:
- When Helping Hurts: Supporting Pro Bono Volunteers will cover the mental health effects of high stress representation.
- Top 10 Pro Bono Policies for Access to Justice will discuss how jurisdictions across the United States adopted laws, rules, and policies that promote pro bono participation – and how your jurisdiction can too.
- Building a Second Ring of Legal Aid: Triage Pro Bono will explore a collaborative undertaking of law firms and legal departments together with legal aid organizations to mobilize pro bono volunteers to help in the most critical areas of legal need.
- Practicing Mindful Communication in Your Pro Bono Practice, will provide tips for developing mindfulness in everyday speech and constructive listening that can enhance your pro bono practice.
With an unparalleled mix of law firm, in-house, and public interest leaders – and numerous opportunities for formal and informal networking – the PBI Annual Conference also offers a compelling discussion of emerging areas of public interest law and potential projects.
The conference will be held in a new location this year: The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. Located at D.C.’s National Harbor, it is a unique destination conveniently located on the Potomac River and only a 15-minute drive from Reagan National Airport and downtown Washington, D.C.
See photos from the 2018 Annual Conference
We are delighted to provide you with additional opportunities to expand your pro bono connections and knowledge. Click here to learn more about the Annual Conference and register today.
Transforming Transactional Pro Bono
The “Dream Team” of the Association of Corporate Counsel Northeast Chapter, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo*†, and The Lawyers Clearinghouse, in partnership with Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO), co-hosted the eighth annual Clinic in a Box® program, a partnership transforming transactional pro bono for in-house counsel in the Boston area and easing some challenges of engaging in-house lawyers in pro bono. Check out our blog to learn more!
PBI’s 2019 Sponsorship Opportunities
PBI is the source for all things pro bono, respected worldwide for its unparalleled depth of knowledge, research, training, resources, and expertise. PBI’s generous sponsors provide support critical for PBI to offer important programming that mobilizes lawyers to provide pro bono service by transforming the pro bono landscape at law firms and legal departments. PBI’s sponsors are recognized for their dedication to pro bono and as leaders in helping to reduce barriers to justice for the most vulnerable in our communities.
Click here to download PBI’s 2019 sponsorship prospectus for the Annual Conference (March 27–29) and the Annual Dinner (October 10). It’s never too early to pledge your support. Sponsors that pledge support for both the 2019 Annual Conference and 2019 Annual Dinner with a minimum combined sponsorship of $25,000 by March 15, 2019, qualify for the Pro Bono Leaders Circle and receive additional recognition throughout the year.
Many thanks to PBI’s 2019 Pro Bono Leaders Circle sponsors (as of 1/16/19):
Capital One Financial Corporation**
Latham & Watkins*†
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company**
For more information or to confirm your 2019 sponsorship and add your organization to this prestigious list, please contact Danny Reed, Director of Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.729.6691.
PBI is happy to announce that Reena Glazer has been promoted to Director, Law Firm Pro Bono Project. PBI also welcomes our new Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant, Nicolette Moore!
Reena has been with PBI since October 2006 and has been serving as Acting Director since August 2018. Throughout her tenure, Reena has made countless significant contributions to the Law Firm Project and to PBI as a whole. Reena’s substantive participation in so many of PBI’s initiatives has enabled PBI to remain at the forefront of pro bono issues in the law firm community. We look forward to her continued leadership and efforts to expand and enhance access to justice for all of our stakeholders.
Nicolette joins PBI after her time as a Fulbright Binational Business Fellow in Mexico City. While in Mexico, she worked as a legal assistant at the law firm Sámano Abogados. In this role, she supported the legal team in implementing anti-corruption and data privacy regulations and carrying out litigation in commercial tribunals. Additionally, she did MBA coursework at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México. Nicolette graduated from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service where she studied International Politics and Latin American Studies.
Congratulations, Reena and welcome, Nicolette!