Guest Blog: BNY Mellon’s Pro Bono Program

The Bank of New York Mellon recently launched its pro bono program.  Learn more about it below.

Why Global Pro Bono at BNY Mellon?
When Jane Sherburne, BNY Mellon’s general counsel, asked me to chair a new Global Pro Bono Program 10 months ago, I didn’t hesitate.  Jane has been a significant supporter of pro bono service, noting that it reflects BNY Mellon’s commitment to making our communities better places to live and work, and is fundamental to our team-oriented business culture and core values: trust, teamwork, client focus and outperformance.

For perspective, in 2010, BNY Mellon and its employees around the globe donated nearly $35 million to causes they care about most, plus another 43,000 hours of volunteer service.  Adding professional legal services to the mix of our powerful and uplifting community commitment was simply irresistible.  The Global Pro Bono Program directly supports our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), philanthropy and employee engagement and volunteering initiatives.

Fostering Camaraderie
I asked Jane about her personal philosophy and while most pro bono players may start small, she felt that as a global organization, we couldn’t just target one place, country, or theme.  Jane also recognized the esprit de corps and camaraderie that would result from the opportunity to bring our legal teams together in this manner.

“Pro bono opens up a world of opportunity for our people to get involved in new challenges, helps our lawyers fulfill their professional obligations, and affects the lives of people in meaningful and lasting ways,” Jane said. 

With her full support, we launched BNY Mellon’s Global Pro Bono Program this month in six cities and three countries: New York, Jersey City, Pittsburgh, Boston, London, and Hong Kong.

The BNY Mellon Pro Bono Team

Careful Project Structuring, Online Resources Building Blocks for Team Success
Currently, we have 19 attorneys and non-attorneys on the pro bono team.  With sage counsel from Corporate Pro Bono and Eve Runyon,  we have plunged simultaneously into several tracks, establishing  subcommittees, themes and projects; interviewing and selecting legal service organizations and law firm partnerships; creating timelines, project notification processes and tracking mechanisms; and researching licensing and insurance.  Among the most important shared resources and tools for this dynamic team is a dedicated intranet microsite.  Our pro bono intranet site and Wiki pages contain policies, procedures, FAQs, matter opening and closing forms, instruction pages and chat pages.  Everything is online and in one easily accessible spot.  We’ve established regional coordinators and national theme coordinators who will also notify our attorneys and non attorneys of upcoming projects.   

Expanding BNY Mellon’s Volunteering Footprint, Earning a Charitable Gift Match
By adopting BNY Mellon’s CSR and philanthropy theme, “Community Partnership,” we’re expanding our company’s volunteering footprint, while also receiving “dollars for do-ers” or matching donations wherever possible.  Our efforts are focused on something we call “Powering Potential.”  These projects address urgent basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and disaster relief.  A second area of support within the Powering Potential framework addresses workforce development to help troubled youths, veterans, women, minorities and small businesses. 

Pro Bono Program Welcomes External Partners, Communities Benefit
We have gathered close to 12 different legal service organizations and law firm partners to join the initiative.  Together, we will work in clinics.  We’ll help disabled veterans and focus on financial literacy for low-income women and children.  We’re also looking at the pro bono support our volunteers can direct to microfinance, or to help low income families navigate through the school systems, and more.

Members of the community have already obtained free legal service following our first successful pilot clinic, held pre-launch.  And, we’re already approaching 30 pro bono volunteers!  This momentum proves that getting involved in Community Partnership is a great way of continuing to do what’s right.

Deborah H. Kaye is Managing Director and Senior Managing Counsel at The Bank of New York Mellon.