2021 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Awardee

Pfizer in partnership with DLA Piper

Pfizer Inc. and DLA Piper have built a dedicated pro bono partnership over the past 15 years. Together they have worked to create long-term, sustainable projects to expand access to justice, and those efforts have remained strong throughout the pandemic, including expansion into new initiatives and pro bono service models.

NYU Cancer Center Legal Health Clinic: In 2009, Pfizer began working with DLA Piper and the New York Legal Assistance Group to develop the NYU Cancer Center Legal Health Clinic to provide pro bono legal services to cancer patients. Pfizer and DLA Piper were the first corporate law department and law firm involved in this project. While the project grew to include other law firms, DLA Piper continued to take the lead. Pro bono lawyers assisted terminally ill patients in preparing simple estate documents, which can provide important peace of mind to clients. From 2009 through the first three months of 2020, a Pfizer lawyer staffed the clinic every month. NYLAG’s Julie Babayeva shared, “With Pfizer and DLA Piper’s leadership, we have been able to assist nearly 2,000 patients with more than 3,400 matters throughout our partnership, vastly improving the health and wellbeing of cancer patients and their families.”

Expanding Access to Justice: Pfizer first worked with the National Center for Access to Justice (NCAJ), Deloitte, and leading law firms in 2012 to create NCAJ’s groundbreaking Justice Index – a public ranking of the states based on their adoption of best policies for access to justice.  In 2019, Pfizer, DLA Piper, and Deloitte led NCAJ’s national Civil Legal Aid Attorney Count – a key part of the Justice Index offering the most complete look at the number of civil legal aid lawyers in the country. The Count, and the other expanded and updated Justice Index findings, are a critical resource used by advocates to strengthen civil legal aid and to secure better policies for access to justice across the country.

Training the Next Generation of Lawyers in Zambia: In 2018, Pfizer began working with New Perimeter, DLA Piper’s nonprofit affiliate, to provide a week-long legal writing program to over 100 students at the University of Zambia Law School (UNZA). Due to severe resource shortages, UNZA is not able to provide the small group intensive legal writing and analysis training that is so critical to new lawyers. The program fills a training gap in a country where there is approximately one lawyer to serve every 13,000 Zambians. Because of the pandemic, New Perimeter and Pfizer transitioned to a remote model in 2020, training 70 LLM students in legal writing and analysis. Because the training went well, UNZA has engaged Pfizer and New Perimeter to provide the training to a new cohort of students in August 2021.

Representing Immigrant Children: In 2019, Pfizer, DLA Piper, and Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) organized a legal clinic to assist immigrant children, many of whom crossed the U.S.-Mexico border alone in search of safety and a chance for a better life. DLA Piper and Pfizer took on full representation of several children eligible to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a form of immigration relief that provides a pathway to U.S. citizenship. Pfizer and DLA Piper lawyers displayed flexibility and innovation during the pandemic, tailoring client communications and virtual meetings while remaining current on the constantly changing court and agency rules related to filings and appearances.

In addition, Pfizer and DLA Piper have worked on other pro bono initiatives, such as Pfizer’s Strategic Legal Thinking Seminars for Nonprofit Executives, a series of over 50 lectures geared toward supporting and empowering thousands of nonprofit leaders. Pfizer and DLA Piper also joined forces for three years to staff a monthly consultation clinic that assisted several hundred unrepresented petitioners in family court. And, in early 2021, volunteers from Pfizer and DLA Piper teamed with Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts to provide legal assistance to young artists at a virtual legal clinic.

PBI congratulates Pfizer and DLA Piper on their impactful, sustained pro bono partnership.

About Pfizer: Breakthroughs That Change Patients’ Lives

Pfizer applies science and global resources to bring therapies to people that extend and significantly improve their lives.  Consistent with our responsibility as one of the world’s premier innovative biopharmaceutical companies, we collaborate with healthcare providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable healthcare globally.  For more than 170 years, we have worked to make a difference for everyone who relies on us.

Pfizer’s Legal Division is committed to pursuing equity and access to justice through our Pro Bono Program, which is built on strategic partnerships with key law firms and non-profit partners.  The program currently focuses on three key areas – racial justice, healthcare, and COVID assistance – and has historically supported a broad range of programs to help people in need of legal assistance.  For over 20 years, we have sponsored public interest fellowships to address unmet needs in communities across the U.S.  Visit Pfizer’s website to learn more about how we are advancing health equity and social justice through community investments.

About DLA Piper Pro Bono: Courage | Compassion | Commitment

DLA Piper Pro Bono’s mission is to pursue justice in our communities and around the world by advancing gender and racial equity, advocating for children and combating hunger. We support expanding access to justice in the communities in which we work. Our aim is to be innovative and collaborative in our efforts so we can provide the best possible service to our pro bono clients.

As a global law firm, with lawyers located in more than 40 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific, we understand our responsibility goes beyond the cities and countries where we work. In 2005, DLA Piper established a ground-breaking international pro bono initiative, New Perimeter. A nonprofit affiliate of DLA Piper, New Perimeter provides long-term pro bono legal assistance in under-served regions around the world to support access to justice, social and economic development, and sound legal institutions, with women’s advancement as an overarching goal.


About the CPBO Pro Bono Partner AwardCorporate Pro Bono (CPBO), a project of Pro Bono Institute, created the CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award to recognize innovative pro bono collaborations of in-house legal departments with law firms and public interest organizations. Pro bono partnerships that include at least one in-house legal department with one or more law firms and/or public interest organizations are eligible. The CPBO Advisory Board selects the award recipients.

The award honors legal departments and the organizations with which they partner in the provision of legal services to those in need. The award recipients are departments, law firms, and public interest organizations that have demonstrated an impact in their community through their partnership project, shown substantial involvement in the project by in-house lawyers, made tangible steps toward sustaining the relationship among the partners, developed innovative substantive or structural approaches in support of the partnership’s effort, and addressed a critical legal need or assisted a particularly vulnerable community or target population.

Over the years, the impact and innovation of the projects supported by the award recipients have been tremendously important both in the projects’ ability to address the legal needs of the communities being served and in the role the partnerships have played in supporting and furthering pro bono work, especially within the in-house community. Through these partnerships, legal departments, law firms, and public interest organizations have devised programs that contribute to the legal profession’s efforts to close the justice gap and that create strong legacies of effective pro bono service.