When Starbucks became a Charter Signatory to the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge®, it publicly affirmed its staunch commitment to support and participate in pro bono service. Included in its mission statement, Starbucks Law & Corporate Affairs (L&CA) proudly declares that in providing expert legal advice, its members will “serve as a role model in diversity and community service.”
Based on this philosophy, Starbucks developed a multi-faceted approach to encourage and facilitate pro bono service by its legal department members. With the support of its general counsel, Paula Boggs, the Committee’s executive sponsor, Deputy General Counsel Lucy Helm, and L&CA’s entire senior leadership team, the Starbucks Pro Bono Committee organizes lunch-and-learns to introduce L&CA members to different pro bono opportunities. The Committee also sponsors on- and off-site department-wide clinics and offers a menu of local area programs for individual participation. Finally, the Committee partners with outside counsel to take advantage of pre-screened and tested projects.
This approach has resulted in participation in pro bono activities by nearly 66 percent of Starbucks attorneys, paralegals and staff, including 70 percent of participating attorneys providing 14 or more hours of pro bono per year.
Starbucks recently hosted its fourth annual First Responder Will Clinic in conjunction with the Young Lawyers Division of the Washington State Bar Association. Starbucks attorneys, paralegals and staff devoted the day to assisting Seattle area police officers, firefighters and other first responders with preparing and executing estate plan documents. Although first responders are exposed to great risk on a daily basis, many have never taken care of their own estate planning. Through these clinics Starbucks volunteers have helped hundreds of first responders receive estate planning services at no cost.
The Starbucks Pro Bono Committee also partnered with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington to support its Voters Rights Restoration Project. Until passage of a new law effective in 2010, Washington citizens who had served the terms of their felony convictions did not have their right to vote automatically reinstated. The ACLU of Washington had a backlog of cases of citizens seeking to restore their voting rights. After receiving training from the ACLU, Starbucks volunteers represented individuals through the legal process to have their voting rights restored.
Finally, recognizing its global responsibility, Starbucks also encourages its field members to participate in both local and international pro bono efforts. When the Public International Law and Policy Group (PILPG) approached Starbucks’s European legal team (EMEA Team) about a project in The Republic of Uganda, the team offered immediate assistance. In conjunction with attorneys at Baker & McKenzie, the EMEA Team, including attorney Axel Vianene and paralegal Vanessa Mueller, researched international best practices and drafted comprehensive memorandum on the means different states use to ensure independent truth and reconciliation mechanisms.