We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

Formal in-house pro bono programs have undergone a vast transformation, evolving from a mere handful of programs 15 years ago into the hundreds of programs that define the field today. In fact, these programs have advanced so much that there are now cross-department acknowledgements of accomplishment.

Barrington Lopez, VP & GC – Midwest Area at Verizon Wireless, and Steven Fus

While it was not long ago that such a notion would have seemed impossible given the landscape of in-house pro bono, on July 17 the Chicago Bar Foundation and the Chicago Bar Association presented Steven S. Fus, assistant general counsel of alliances & legal administration for United Air Lines, Inc., a subsidiary of United Continental Holdings, Inc.**, with the Exelon Outstanding Corporate Counsel Award.  Endowed by Exelon Corporation**, the award officially recognizes “the generally unsung pro bono contributions of outstanding attorneys in the corporate sector.”

Fus was selected because of his personal dedication to pro bono, as well as his leadership of United’s pro bono program.  He has been a committed volunteer with Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA), helping more than 350 clients.  Additionally, Fus leads the charge in expanding United’s pro bono program, working with General Counsel Brett Hart to engage all attorneys and other professional staff at United in impactful pro bono work. Recently they welcomed other in-house pro bono leaders at United for a CPBO meeting on in-house pro bono for legal departments in the Chicago area.

Exelon’s recognition of Fus’s commitment to pro bono work serves as a sterling example of just how far in-house pro bono programs have come in the past 15 years.  This cross department recognition is reflective of the development of widespread in-house pro bono, and a sign that such programs will continue to flourish and push the boundaries in improving communities.

Have you heard of other exceptional pro bono efforts by in-house counsel?  If so, leave a comment and tell us all about it!

*denotes a Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®
**denotes a Signatory to the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge

Hat tip to PBI intern Ben Gloger for his help on this post.