Upon establishing a pro bono program in 2008, UnitedHealth Group Incorporated** set out to create formal legal services partnerships. The Children’s Law Center of Minnesota (CLC) proved to be the perfect fit. CLC’s mission to give a voice and assist children in foster care, many of whom are children of color or have mental disabilities, matches UnitedHealth Group’s values. Plus, CLC provides a strong program in which UnitedHealth Group volunteers can easily work as a part of a team to dramatically impact a child’s life.
In the resulting Child Law Project, each volunteer attorney receives training. Then, he or she meets with the client in a comfortable, child-friendly setting before the first hearing. The volunteer attorney may coordinate with a social worker, guardian ad litem, adoption worker, or their attorneys. The same team works with the child client, which allows the child to develop trusting relationships and allows the attorney to better represent his or her client’s interests. Having their voice heard and recognized results not only in potentially better legal outcomes for the children, but in significant emotional benefits.
Partnering with CLC provides UnitedHealth Group attorneys and legal staff with a unique opportunity to develop long-lasting relationships with the children they represent. Volunteers assist clients with a variety of legal matters, including adoption, transfer of legal custody to relatives, and obtaining mental health counseling. Due to the nature of these enduring relationships, many UnitedHealth Group attorneys also provide the children with advice on non-legal matters, such as college planning.
What does this mean for a child? At UnitedHealth Group’s 2011 annual pro bono program, one of the clients assisted in the Child Law Project credited his volunteer attorney with changing his life and referred to her as his “very best friend.”
As if the gratitude of a child was not enough, CLC recognized the efforts of UnitedHealth Group in 2010 with its Distinguished Service Award. “UHG has been a phenomenal partner with CLC in providing legal representation to Minnesota’s most vulnerable people, children in foster care,” said Linda Foreman, Esq., executive director of CLC.
Is your legal department interested in working with children? If so, CPBO knows of myriad opportunities across the country. Just ask us!
**denotes Signatory to the Corporate Pro Bono ChallengeSM