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In-house pro bono has grown over the past three decades, with more corporate legal departments creating and implementing formal pro bono programs. The Pro Bono Maturity Model is designed to assist pro bono leaders at departments with robust or longstanding pro bono programs who may wonder how to take their program to the next level. The Maturity Model offers guidance to departments to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their existing pro bono programs and spark ideas for how to evolve their programs to be more successful, impactful, and sustainable. At the same time, this tool can help pro bono leaders at legal departments with fledgling pro bono programs to build a roadmap and goal-set for the future.
The Maturity Model provides a framework for identifying specific opportunities for growth in seven core areas:
Departments can gain a better understanding of how advanced they are by reviewing each of these seven issues and assessing their maturity level. Some departments may find they are fairly advanced in one or two areas and still developing in others. While the tool was designed with larger law departments in mind, smaller law departments may still find instructive recommendations within the Maturity Model. Pro bono leaders at departments of all sizes are encouraged to use the tool to prompt discussion about priorities and setting goals for growth.
We hope this Pro Bono Maturity Model will help in-house pro bono leaders take their programs to the next level. Contact CPBO at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or feedback about the Maturity Model.
PBI held a Members-only virtual convening titled: Current Challenges to Law Firm Pro Bono – An Exploration of Causes and Answers on October 10, 2023.
Pro bono leaders from PBI Law Firm Pro Bono Project® Member firms united to analyze and explore the causes behind recent drops in two key metrics – pro bono hours per attorney and attorney pro bono participation rates.
The event featured an analysis of the metrics and related circumstances by Erik Swenson, Director, Law Firm Pro Bono Project, who also suggested some possible causes and mitigation measures, followed by a lively and insightful group discussion led by Dawn Caldart, Director, Pro Bono, Quarles & Brady*† and Rene Kathawala, Pro Bono Counsel, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe*†.
It was an important gathering that allowed for a transparent sharing of underlying circumstances faced by law firms that led to the drops in lawyer participation in pro bono work. The thoughtful group identified some common themes and critically examined proactive steps that may help put laws firms back on an upward track in supporting access to justice. Project staff has created a list of key takeaways from the discussion.
PBI intends to hold future convenings involving deeper dives into the themes, and meaning hidden in the underlying metrics, appearing in its Report on the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Initiative (issued annually). In the meantime, anyone interested in past reports can view them here. Project member firms, as an exclusive benefit, can obtain the comprehensive list of takeaways from the October convening by emailing their requests to: email@example.com.
Systematic racism is an issue that protrudes into each and every crevice of society, and climate is no exception. Keeping that in mind, discourse about climate change is mostly about rising temperature or increasing carbon emissions. What is left out of many conversations is who exactly is being affected by such climate trends.
Although climate change may seem like an abstract trouble for some; for others, particularly in minority and low-income communities, it is a very real issue that is impacting their livelihoods right now. There is no doubt that climate change impacts us all, regardless of where you live, how much money you make, or who you are.
Each year, the signatories to the PBI Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® and Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® initiatives provide important pro bono services to underserved, disadvantaged, and other individuals or groups unable to secure the legal assistance needed to address critical problems. The PBI Signatory Showcase spotlights some of the exceptional work signatories have done to serve those in need.
In late 2021, Pfizer launched the Pfizer Refugee Leadership Initiative, with a commitment to hire 100 refugees in 2022. In 2023, the goal was expanded to hiring 500 refugees over the next three years. To provide support, the Legal Division launched an initiative to aid their colleagues’ asylum applications. This effort included working with outside law firms (PLA firms) to provide mutually rewarding pro bono services that empowered Pfizer’s colleagues by informing them of their rights, providing them with the tools to advocate for themselves, and helping them ultimately to secure a legal status in their new country. Pfizer’s Legal Division, specifically the Pro Bono Steering Committee, also worked with PLA firms to set up the screening process for their Afghan colleagues, and many Legal Division colleagues volunteered to conduct intake interviews.
To jumpstart their work, Pfizer joined the Tent Coalition for Afghan Refugees and later expanded the program to refugees from Ukraine and other refugees in need. READ MORE IN OUR LATEST BLOG.
The PBI 2023 Annual Dinner at Gotham Hall proved to be another extraordinary evening of celebration, networking, and inspiration. Expertly led by Co-Chairs Christa D’Alimonte, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Paramount Global**, and Greg Jordan, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer, The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.**, the exceptional pro bono efforts of our award recipients were highlighted throughout the evening with the stories they shared of their programs, projects, and the individuals they have helped.
2023 John H. Pickering Award
2023 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award
in partnership with
Welcome.US and Welcome Legal Alliance
2023 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award
in partnership with
Committed to enhancing in-house pro bono, CPBO presented a session at the 2023 Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas last week: Chief Legal Officer’s Point of View: Doing Well and Doing Good. Eve Runyon, President and CEO, PBI, moderated an engaging discussion with Marcus Brown, Executive Vice President & General Counsel, Entergy Corporation**, and Hossein Nowbar, Chief Legal Officer, Microsoft Corporation**. Entergy and Microsoft both have robust, longstanding pro bono programs. They are signatories to the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® initiative, committing to the aspirational goal of engaging at least 50 percent of their legal staff in pro bono. Both legal departments have a fulltime pro bono counsel to lead their pro bono programs, which is rare among in-house legal teams. And both legal departments have leaders who champion pro bono, and who align pro bono with corporate initiatives like social impact and DEI programs.
The panelists discussed the increasing importance of the legal department’s pro bono work to the company overall. For each, their department’s in-house pro bono program evolved from doing good for good’s sake, to being critical components of the company’s social impact portfolio or the “S” of the company’s ESG (environmental, social, and governance) strategy.
Find out more about what these two pro bono champions had to say in our recent blog. READ MORE
In honor of Pro Bono Week, PBI hosted a webinar on Building Up In-House Pro Bono Partnerships and Opportunities on October 26. The panelists discussed how legal departments engage in pro bono, what types of pro bono opportunities are effective for in-house attorneys and staff, and how to partner successfully with legal services organizations and law firms. Many thanks to the excellent panelists, which included:
If you are interested in viewing the on-demand session, please contact the CPBO project at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PBI and its CPBO project, in partnership with the legal department of Entergy Corporation** and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), are hosting the second annual EmPOWERing Pro Bono Day on Thursday, November 16, 2023. This event brings together volunteer attorneys and legal staff from electric and gas companies to provide pro bono legal assistance to address critical legal needs of underserved communities. At the 2022 EmPOWERing Pro Bono Day, more than 150 in-house volunteers from eight legal departments participated in pro bono service projects. Many legal services organizations and law firms partnered with the in-house attorneys and staff to address critical needs through pro bono legal services. For more information, contact CPBO at email@example.com
Watch your email for more details–coming soon!
* denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® signatory
** denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory
† denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Project® member
Pro Bono Institute®, PBI®, Law Firm Pro Bono Project®, and CPBO are registered trademarks of Pro Bono Institute