The United Parcel Service, Inc. founder, Jim Casey, “believed one measure of success is the degree to which we build up others. While building up others, we build up ourselves.” Teri P. McClure, UPS Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary.
The UPS Legal Department, under the leadership of General Counsel Teri P. McClure, recognizes its responsibility to those in the community by providing pro bono legal assistance to those who would not otherwise have access to legal services. “Volunteerism is an important aspect of the UPS culture,” said McClure. Pro bono involvement “is an excellent way for members of the legal department to work on meaningful projects within the community and sustain our culture.”
Each member of the UPS legal department, lawyer and non-lawyer, is encouraged to participate in its pro bono program which is managed by the UPS Pro Bono Committee. The committee is responsible for identifying pro bono opportunities, screening and approving pro bono projects, coordinating training, and tracking participation. Many of UPS’s pro bono engagements are done in partnership with local legal service organizations and/or law firms.
Last year, UPS, a Charter Signatory to the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge℠, hosted a pro bono fair and conducted a panel discussion on the benefits of pro bono. As a result of the fair, UPS partnered with the Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta and the law firms of DLA Piper (US) LLP and King & Spalding, to provide pro bono services to 15 clients. Twenty-five UPS lawyers and paralegals contributed approximately 100 hours.
In 2007, UPS worked with the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, and dedicated to that organization a member of the UPS legal department to become a full-time attorney for four months. While not uncommon practice for law firms, this was an extraordinary commitment to pro bono by a corporate legal department. UPS lawyer Ryan Swift spent four months working in the Cobb County Office of Atlanta Legal Aid as a full-time staff attorney, helping those in need in the metro-Atlanta area. Since the conclusion of this rotation, Swift has continued to volunteer with the Atlanta Legal Aid Society.
UPS has also collaborated with the Truancy Intervention Project (TIP), a child advocacy organization that serves children who are chronically absent from school and, as a result, are at risk of becoming involved with the juvenile justice system. Attorneys from the UPS legal department volunteer their time to serve in the role of guardian ad litem. Through TIP’s Early Intervention Program, UPS volunteers work with school social workers, teachers, and the child’s parents to address the child’s absenteeism. Together, the team develops a comprehensive plan to ensure the child remains in school and to prevent court intervention. In some instances, UPS attorneys also serve as guardians ad litem at educational neglect hearings held in juvenile court. In these hearings, the volunteers further advocate on behalf of the child to ensure compulsory school attendance requirements are met.
The UPS Legal Department has recently become involved with the Georgia Justice Project (GJP). GJP is an unlikely mix of lawyers, social workers, and a landscaping company. Founded in 1986, GJP’s holistic approach—which combines legal representation, social service support, and employment opportunities—seeks to remove legal barriers while simultaneously offering its clients opportunities to re-engage in the communities as neighbors and employees. GJP accomplishes this mission by providing free high quality legal services, ongoing access to social services to clients and their families, and employment opportunities through their company, New Horizon Landscaping.
UPS has also partnered with Alston & Bird and the Atlanta Legal Aid Society to obtain adult guardianships for individuals who are at the end stages of life. UPS and Alston & Bird represented relatives in probate court to get temporary or permanent custody guardianship orders for individuals who were no longer competent to make decisions about their care and other matters. To date, UPS has been 100 percent successful in obtaining guardianship orders on behalf of clients. The collaboration between UPS and Alston & Bird has also allowed Atlanta Legal Aid’s Health Law Unit to expand the scope of services available to the client population to include caregivers affected by the life-threatening illness of a loved one.