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February 2023

PBI 2023 Annual Conference Power Plenaries

Back by popular demand…

The Supreme Court: Reflections on the Current Term

The work of the Supreme Court of the United States continues to be ripe for discussion and debate. This panel will cover the Court’s current dynamics and discuss high-profile cases with potentially far-reaching ramifications in the areas of affirmative action, free speech, LGBTQ rights, administrative law, social media companies’ immunity from suit under Section 230, and voting rights. You do not want to miss this!

Featuring our panel of esteemed litigators: (L to R) Beth S. Brinkmann, Sarah M. Harris, Carter G. Phillips, and Andrew J. Pincus

Professional Development for Pro Bono Leaders…
Executive Presence: What Matters & What Gets in the Way
Featuring: Jill Lynch Cruz, Ph.D., PCC, GCDF, SPHR

This program will help you understand how enhancing your executive presence can counteract bias, whether conscious or unconscious, as a barrier to leadership advancement and effectiveness. You’ll learn the characteristics and behaviors that matter most in conveying confidence and power with others and what gets in the way.  

A Conversation with Access to Justice Leaders…

Innovations in Access to Justice
Featuring: The Honorable Bridget McCormack
and James J. Sandman

The need for impactful projects to support, implement, and assess sustainable innovations to improve access to justice is great. During this session, these renown leaders in access to justice will discuss important work that is being done or could be done to better serve low-income and underserved communities.

Noteworthy Networking Events

PBI 2023 Annual Conference Welcome Reception
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Hosted at Alston & Bird’s office
950 F Street, NW | Washington, D.C.
Sponsored and hosted by Alston & Bird*

Pro Bono EXPO Happy Hour
5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Don’t miss this annual catalyst for new partnerships, relationships, and pro bono initiatives. 

ABA Death Penalty Representation Project

ABA Free Legal Answers

American Constitution Society

Animal Legal Defense Fund

Center for Reproductive Rights

Immigration Justice Campaign (American Immigration Council)


Lawyers for Good Government

Legal Aid Society

National Veterans Legal Services Program

Public Interest Law Initiative

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Unchained at Last

Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts


2023 Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award Reception
6:15 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.

PBI will present its 2023 Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award to Capital One Financial Corporation**. This annual award recognizes an individual’s or organization’s exceptional commitment to pro bono as demonstrated by exemplary engagement in pro bono legal services.

PRO BONO SPOTLIGHT: Capital One Financial Corporation

Capital One’s Legal Department joined PBI’s Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® initiative in 2012. Since its pro bono committee was formed in 2011, Capital One’s roughly 375 legal professionals have donated more than 25,000 hours of pro bono service in local communities from offices in the Washington, D.C., Richmond, New York, and Dallas metropolitan areas, in addition to a growing virtual pro bono presence.

Examples of the legal department’s current pro bono initiatives include:

  • Pro Bono Clinics: Capital One attorneys and legal professionals regularly donate their time to staff a number of pro bono clinics throughout the company’s footprint. Capital One’s Legal Department has also partnered with PBI’s Corporate Pro Bono team to hold four Clinic in a Box® programs, most recently in May 2019.

  • Pro Bono Appellate Work: Over the past several years, members of Capital One’s Legal Department in Richmond and McLean, VA have drafted briefs and argued pro bono cases in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on behalf of prisoners contesting conditions of confinement and undocumented immigrants contesting transfers to out-of-state detention centers, in partnership with the Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC) and, more recently, McGuireWoods.

  • Asylum & Immigration Work: Capital One attorneys and specialists partner with KIND (Kids In Need of Defense), a national non-profit organization that partners with pro bono attorneys to serve immigrant children who face the possibility of deportation from the United States. Capital One volunteers represent and assist refugee or immigrant children who may be eligible for relief from deportation so that they do not face immigration court alone.

  • Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project: Capital One attorneys read and consider files from prisoners convicted in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia who are seeking assistance from MAIP to determine whether they merit deeper investigation, especially through the use of new evidence, to prove the prisoner is innocent. Because of the virtual nature of the program, Capital One’s participation with MAIP soared during the pandemic and continues to thrive.


Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO®), the global in-house project of PBI, has developed a self-assessment tool for in-house pro bono committees. CPBO developed this resource in response to requests from in-house pro bono leaders who are considering how to take their programs to the next level. As pro bono programs mature past the getting-started stage, periodic self-assessment of the committee’s leadership can help both the committee and the pro bono program grow in effectiveness and participation. The questions in the guide are intended to spark discussion and reflection by committee members as to the committee’s current performance, and to identify areas for growth. There are no right and wrong answers! CPBO staff are available to assist on a confidential basis to help analyze the results of the self-assessment, or facilitate discussion of next steps that result from the self-assessment. To request the guide, please contact CPBO at

The Work Begins Again

In June 2022, the Supreme Court held in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion, overturning longstanding precedent in Roe v. Wade—and mobilizing interest in pro bono opportunities among many lawyers who support reproductive rights. Even before the decision came down, many major law firms anticipated that the right to abortion was in jeopardy, and formed an alliance to work to protect reproductive rights.

As predicted, the overturning of Roe v. Wade allowed many states to enforce laws banning and restricting abortion bans. According to the Brennan Center for Justice and the Center for Reproductive Rights, as of February 1, 2023, litigants have challenged abortion prohibitions and restrictions in three dozen cases across 21 states since Dobbs. Last July, the Justice Department announced a task force to “monitor and evaluate” state and local legislation which seeks to limit abortion, limit use of FDA-approved medications for abortion, or impose harsh penalties on abortion providers through the process of harsh penalties. Additionally, the Biden Administration issued an executive order to protect access to medication abortion and emergency contraception, as well as educate about these options to safeguard reproductive health.


If you are interested in learning more about opportunities to get involved in reproductive rights pro bono, you’re in luck! The Center for Reproductive Rights has organized a session at the PBI 2023 Annual Conference, entitled “Post-Roe: Reproductive Rights & Pro Bono.” At this program attorneys from the Center for Reproductive Rights and pro bono attorneys will speak about pro bono efforts to better protect and provide legal representation in support of reproductive rights. Learn more about the PBI Annual Conference, on February 22-24, in Washington, D.C.

Legal Deserts

Legal deserts are regions in the United States that have no or few attorneys. Georgia, for example, is a case study for legal deserts. Seventy percent of the attorneys in Georgia are located in four counties in the metro Atlanta area, while the other 155 counties have far fewer lawyers – or no lawyers at all. The Georgia State University College of Law’s Center for Access to Justice has been working on solutions to make the legal system accessible to more Georgians, an essential goal as challenges abounded during the pandemic. 

The Georgia Legal Services Program is one organization working to ensure access to the justice system for low-income Georgians. Pro bono is one ingredient in their recipe for successfully increasing access to justice. Pro bono attorneys can receive training and provide legal assistance to low-income clients in rural areas in a variety of civil legal matters. READ MORE IN ONE OF OUR LATEST BLOGS

Come join us to learn about innovative solutions to legal deserts at the PBI 2023 Annual Conference. The session, “A Blueprint for Addressing Legal Deserts,” will focus on a case study highlighting Georgia Legal Services Program’s Wills and Estates Signature Project, which partners with large law firms and corporate legal departments to provide remote legal assistance in rural Georgia counties. 

Take the Challenge

 In January of 2023, PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project sent its 2022 Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® survey to Law Firm Challenge signatories and in February, Corporate Pro Bono sent its 2022 Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® survey to CPBO Challenge signatories. Both surveys request pro bono data from January 1 – December 31, 2022.

If you received your 2022 Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge or CPBO surveys, we ask that you submit them by the following deadlines:

  • Law Firm Challenge signatories: March 1, 2023
  • CPBO Challenge signatories: April 4, 2023

The Importance of the Challenge Data
The 2022 Report on the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Initiative, provided data on law firm pro bono participation by Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge signatories. Signatories of the Challenge have committed to three or five percent of their annual billable hours to pro bono activities. Firms reported performing a total of 4,614,182 hours of pro bono work in 2021, data detailed in the 2022 Law Firm Challenge Report.

Last year’s CPBO Challenge Report, 2022: In-House Pro Bono Report, helps in-house legal departments benchmark their pro bono efforts against their peers. In the U.S., 48 percent of the respondents met or exceeded the CPBO Challenge goal of 50 percent participation by attorneys, and 22 percent of the respondents met or exceed the goal of 50 percent participation by other legal department staff.

If you need your Challenge Survey link resent or have any questions regarding the Challenge Survey, contact Lily Constine, Project Coordinator, at

Calling All Great Partnerships

Corporate Pro Bono is now accepting nominations for the 2023 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award. The award recognizes innovative collaborative approaches to pro bono involving legal departments partnering with law firms and/or public interest organizations. The CPBO Advisory Board will select two partnerships to honor with this award. The awards will be presented at the Pro Bono Institute Annual Dinner on Monday, October 16, in New York City.

Give a Listen

PBI interviews Chris Walters, Senior Pro Bono Counsel at Reed Smith*. Walters describes Reed Smith’s successful appeal in the Ninth Circuit of a lower court’s refusal to grant Reed Smith attorney fees in conjunction with the firm’s pro bono representation of a mistreated prisoner in the California correctional system. Listen and learn about best practices when litigating claims for attorney fees in prisoner pro bono cases and how this precedent affects the pro bono community. LISTEN NOW (While you are there, browse through and listen to our other great podcasts!)

* denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® signatory
** denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory
† denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Project® member