Financial Institutions Unite for Pro Bono

PBI is gearing up for the first-ever Financial Institution Pro Bono Day, Thursday, May 2, 2019. Financial institutions from across the U.S. are working together for a day of volunteering to provide a diverse range of pro bono legal services to vulnerable communities. Organized by Corporate Pro Bono, PBI’s project to support in-house pro bono, Financial Institution Pro Bono Day will spotlight the severe gap in legal services for underserved individuals in the U.S. and promote in-house pro bono engagement and collaboration.

This guest blog, written by Mark Gittelman, Managing Chief Counsel – Bankruptcy and Business Reorganization for PNC Bank, tells the story of how Financial Institution Pro Bono Day came to be.

It’s always a great feeling to help others in need. It’s an even better feeling when teaming up with friends to help many in need.

Last October, at the Pro Bono Institute Annual Dinner, I spent some time reconnecting with friends in the pro bono world who are fellow bank lawyers. Among those in the crowd were David Brooks from Bank of America and Arunas Gudaitis from BNY Mellon, both of whom I only really see at this event and at the PBI Annual Conference in Washington. As an in-house bank lawyer, I rarely get to work with fellow bank lawyers outside of my specialty area during the year. We started chatting about constructing a way to work with each other and other fellow bank lawyers, do good things for our communities, and support Corporate Pro Bono. And with that, Financial Institution Pro Bono Day was born!

Greg Jordan, PNC’s general counsel, and Eve Runyon, PBI’s CEO, were both extremely supportive of the concept. PBI provided contact information for colleagues at other institutions and hosted an initial call to roll out the initiative and set a date. The project was underway!

The amazingly positive reaction among the bank lawyer community has been overwhelming! So far, lawyers and legal department staff from financial institutions across the United States have scheduled over 40 events in 19 cities with hundreds of volunteers set to participate in pro bono opportunities on May 2. It is totally gratifying to see so many motivated colleagues and friends wanting to help others! And who said that bank lawyers can be boring?

The collaboration among bank teams has also opened up opportunities to share experiences with our bank lawyer colleagues. PNC will be proud to welcome lawyers from Vanguard, Lincoln Financial, TD Bank, JPMorgan Chase and BNY Mellon to a Senior Law Center wills clinic and a Refugee Adjustment of Status clinic in Philadelphia, and a Veterans Benefits clinic in Pittsburgh along with work on Clean Slate documentation to seal criminal records, on May 2.

On behalf of the PNC and its Pro Bono Team, I want to say thank you to the participating financial institutions, PBI and Corporate Pro Bono, and the many law firm and service provider partners for all of the hard work undertaken to put this event together, and for all of the good work that will be done on May 2.