CLOs on the Intersection of Pro Bono and CSR at the 2016 ACC Annual Meeting

A highlight of the in-house pro bono programming offered at the ACC Annual Meeting was a session featuring Susan Lees, executive vice president and general counsel for Allstate Insurance Company**, and Amy Weaver, executive vice president and general counsel for Salesforce**. The session, moderated by Eve Runyon, president and CEO of PBI, opened with Lees and Weaver discussing their experiences in starting and growing pro bono programs, as well as providing tips for how in-house departments could start, expand, or rejuvenate their pro bono programs. The speakers offered advice to the audience such as:

  • partner with ACC chapters, law firms, or other legal departments that have well-established pro bono programs,
  • offer bite-sized volunteer opportunities,
  • consider practical logistics,
  • secure training and support,
  • conduct a survey to find out what issues interest potential volunteers, and
  • attend the PBI Annual Conference for information and networking.

With regard to pro bono programs, audience members posed questions ranging from whether to compensate for pro bono hours to how to identify volunteer opportunities.

The session then turned to the various ways corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts and pro bono legal services can be integrated, including the company foundation funding pro bono programs and contributing to partner legal aid organizations, legal support to the beneficiaries of the company’s CSR efforts, and thematic alignment. Both Lees and Weaver discussed the challenges of maintaining momentum with regard to integration, finding the right projects, knowing when to sunset those that are no longer effective, and the constant competing demands on time. The benefits, they noted, make it well-worth the effort, including the impact on clients and the draw for recruiting strong talent, particularly among millennials.

Runyon ended the session by asking where the panelists would like to see in-house pro bono go in the future. Weaver said that she expects that it will become engrained in the culture at all departments. Lees replied that she hoped technology would be developed and utilized to increase access to and the efficiency of pro bono legal services and that CSR departments would think of their legal department colleagues whenever planning new initiatives, because as Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Sad you missed out on the session? Don’t worry, CPBO has resources for you! Check out the recently published infographic “Integrating In-House Pro Bono with CSR” which outlines the various ways to align the two and spotlights the activities at several companies, including Allstate and . To learn more, contact CPBO at

** denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory