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PBI 2019 Annual Conference

Download 2019 Conference Program

PBI’s 2019 Annual Conference brought together more than 300 attendees from law firms, legal departments, and public interest organizations from around the world on March 27-29 at the Gaylord National Resort at D.C.’s National Harbor. The Gaylord National Resort is a new venue for PBI’s Annual Conference with panoramic views of the nation’s capital and plentiful nearby attractions. Session topics included using diversity, inclusion, and pro bono to train and retain lawyers; what millennial lawyers want; and harnessing the power of behavioral economics for pro bono.

Law firm, in-house, and public interest attendees  began the conference on March 27 with programming dedicated to their specific needs, including a “Law Firm Pro Bono 101” session for new law firm pro bono leaders, an in-house crowdsourcing session for more experienced in-house pro bono leaders, and a hot topics in pro bono session for public interest leaders.

A working lunch followed, where attendees met with their peers from firms, departments, and public interest organizations for Regional Joint Networking Exchanges. Concurrent sessions filled the afternoon, before the day concluded with Peer-to-Peer (P2P) sessions for different types of law firm and in-house counsel roles, and P2P networking and discussion groups for public interest leaders.

On March 28, PBI President and CEO Eve Runyon welcomed guests at the Opening Plenary: From Prison to Oxford, where she moderated a conversation between Brian Ferguson and Tim Hester, Covington & Burling partner and chair. In 2002, Ferguson was wrongfully convicted of a homicide he did not commit. Covington took up Ferguson’s case pro bono and after 10 years of investigation, motions, and oral arguments, secured a new trial. Ultimately, Ferguson’s conviction was vacated, and he was released in 2013. Ferguson and Hester spoke about the hard work and long hours that went into Ferguson’s case and what law firms should be focusing on in the pro bono space. “Pro bono [lawyers] are the saving grace for people who would otherwise not have a chance,” Ferguson said. “You can’t imagine how much of a light you all are and can be as attorneys.” Ferguson, now director of the D.C. Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs (MORCA), described the paralegal fellowship program for previously incarcerated men and women that he has spearheaded with Georgetown University and a cohort of prestigious D.C. law firms, including Covington. Hester explained how his firm management overcame initial resistance and shared how Covington’s paralegal fellow has already become a valuable addition to the firm.

Later this year, Ferguson will pursue a master’s degree in social policy at Oxford University.

Eve Runyon, Brian Ferguson, and Tim Hester at the Opening Plenary.

After the plenary and morning concurrent sessions, attendees gathered for lunch at which PBI presented its 2019 Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award to the Legal Division of Freddie Mac and Ricardo A. Anzaldúa, Freddie Mac’s Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary. Joining the celebration were representatives from Freddie Mac’s pro bono partner organizations, which were featured in a slideshow highlighting Freddie Mac’s Pro Bono Program.

Ricardo Anzaldúa accepts the 2019 Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award on behalf of Freddie Mac’s Legal Division. Others pictured (left to right): Sandy Paik, Luise Welby, Alicia Myara, Sabrina Lozano, and Judy Gayer

Following the afternoon sessions, the Pro Bono EXPO and Happy Hour provided a unique networking opportunity and catalyst for new pro bono relationships and initiatives at which representatives of public interest organizations hosted information tables. This year, in addition to the refreshments and snacks always available during the EXPO at the Conference, attendees took part in EXPO Madness: a bracket-like game! After the EXPO, attendees gathered at Pose Rooftop Lounge to mingle with old friends and meet new pro bono colleagues over drinks and hors d’oeuvres.

Conference attendees mingling at the evening reception at Pose Rooftop Lounge.

On March 29, the Conference concluded with a powerful workshop, Overcoming Poverty with Justice, presented by Dr. Donna Beegle. The session focused on working with people struggling with poverty and challenging assumptions and views. Born into a migrant labor family and married at 15, Dr. Beegle is the only member of her family who has not been incarcerated. By age 26, she earned her GED and then, within 10 years, received her doctorate in educational leadership. She shared with attendees her personal stories and experiences and gave them tools for better understanding and connecting with their clients from impoverished backgrounds: “If you’re judging, you cannot connect. If you cannot connect, you cannot communicate. If you cannot communicate, you cannot represent.”

Dr. Donna Beegle presents Overcoming Poverty with Justice.

Thank you to everyone who attended PBI’s 2019 Annual Conference. Thank you for generously sharing your expertise and your experiences, and for challenging yourself to do more. We hope you made new connections and learned new skills, including how to break down barriers and better communicate with your pro bono clients.

Photos: PBI’s 2019 Annual Conference Photos

Social Media: View Tweets from the Conference

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2019 Annual Conference Sponsors

Pro Bono Champion

Pro Bono Leader

Pro Bono Star


Pro Bono Benefactor

Pro Bono Partner

Freddie Mac

GlaxoSmithKline plc

Goodwin Procter

Jenner & Block

Lowenstein Sandler

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company


Paul Hastings

Reed Smith

United Airlines

Williams & Connolly


Pro Bono Advocate

3M Company

Aetna Inc.

Animal Legal Defense Fund

AT&T Inc.

Deere & Company

Entergy Corporation

Exxon Mobil Corporation

Foley & Lardner

General Electric Company

K&L Gates

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe

Pfizer Inc.

Troutman Sanders

Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr


Pro Bono Supporter

Dorsey & Whitney
Drinker Biddle & Reath
Eversheds Sutherland
Faegre Baker Daniels
Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC
UnitedHealth Group Incorporated
The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program
Vinson & Elkins


2019 Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award Luncheon Sponsors

Pro Bono Leader



Pro Bono Benefactor


Pro Bono Partner

Freddie Mac
Lowenstein Sandler
McKool Smith

Pro Bono Advocate

Holland & Knight
Holwell Shuster & Goldberg
K&L Gates
Landman Corsi Ballaine & Ford
Reiferson Dee

Pro Bono Supporter

Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete
Crowell & Moring
Kutak Rock
Phillips Nizer