The National Law Journal (NLJ) recently shone a spotlight on leading legal departments based in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region and there is at least one thing many of them have in common— commitment to pro bono. In fact, the department that NLJ highlighted as excelling in all categories, Best Buy Co., Inc.** has made pro bono a priority for more than a decade, when the department formalized its program in 2004. Since then, Best Buy’s attorneys have worked on a number of pro bono projects, including staffing expungement and housing clinics and providing assistance in unemployment and family law cases. In addition, the pro bono program has benefited from strong support from the department’s leadership, with several vice presidents having participated in the department’s pro bono ventures, displaying prominent and constant support of the department’s efforts.
NLJ also highlighted the pro bono programs at UnitedHealth Group Incorporated** and Ecolab Inc. UnitedHealth was noted for their “expansive program” which includes a wills clinic for both the elderly and for veterans, a birth certificate project to assist the homeless in obtaining birth certificates, and work with the Children’s Law Center of Minnesota on divorce/custody, adoption, education, and foster care placement. Like Best Buy, UnitedHealth’s legal department also experiences strong support from the top. For example, the company’s Chief Legal Officer has established awards for pro bono and community service.
Congratulations to all and keep up the inspiring work! For information on how to develop your own in-house pro bono program, please contact CPBO Director Eve Runyon.
** denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory