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April 2022

Proud to Say: TODAY Marks the Biggest FIPBD Yet

You might not yet know the acronym FIPBD–but it stands for Financial Institution Pro Bono Day and it is comprised of 65+ events held by financial institutions and their partners from across the U.S. and around the globe that provide a diverse range of pro bono legal services to vulnerable communities. Organized by Corporate Pro Bono® (CPBO®), a Pro Bono Institute® (PBI®) project, FIPBD serves to spotlight the severe gap in legal services for underserved individuals and promote in-house pro bono engagement and collaboration with law firms and legal services organizations.

Today, the third Financial Institution Pro Bono Day, hundreds of volunteers will participate in dozens of events taking place in the U.K., Canada, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and in key metropolitan locations across the U.S., including Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. Many pro bono events will be held virtually. FIPBD was expanded this year to include not only legal departments at financial institutions but also law departments in the insurance industry and at companies that support the financial sector.

Companies organizing today’s events include Accenture**, American International Group (AIG)**, American Express, Ally Bank, Apple Bank**, Bank of America**, Barclays, Barings Bank, Bloomberg**, BMO Financial Group**, BNY Mellon**, Capital One**, Citigroup, Inc.**, Citizens, Credit Suisse, Discover Financial Services**, Fannie Mae**, Freddie Mac**, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Nasdaq, PNC Financial Services Group**, Raymond James, U.S. Bank**, Vanguard**, Wells Fargo, and Zurich North America. Dozens of firms and legal services organizations have partnered with the participating companies’ legal departments to make these events possible.

Pro bono events will address issues such as homelessness; transgender name changes; life planning documents for veterans and seniors; green card assistance for Cuban immigrants; naturalization and asylum applications; DACA renewals; Temporary Protected Status applications for refugees from Ukraine, Haiti, and Venezuela; ending torture of LGBTQ+ youth; uncontested divorce filings for low-income individuals; tax credit applications for senior citizens; expungement of criminal records; driver’s license restoration; children’s rights around the world; obtaining vital identification documents; intake clinics; brief advice hotlines; legal assistance for nonprofits or micro-entrepreneurs; and many more. Financial Institution Pro Bono Day fosters partnerships, expands engagement in pro bono by legal department staff, and—most importantly—provides essential, quality legal assistance to those in need.

Many thanks to all who are participating! We will publish highlights of all the events soon, but if you’d like to see what was done in 2021, learn more!

And for those who are participating…CPBO will host a brief wrap-up and review of FIPBD 2022, followed by a CLE program presented by our partners at Troutman Pepper:

Pro Bono Service and the Community Reinvestment Act for Financial Institutions’ Legal Departments
In-house counsel at financial institutions subject to the requirements of the Community Reinvestment Act (“CRA”) will learn how the provision of pro bono legal services can contribute to their institution’s compliance with the CRA. Specifically, this program will discuss:
  • Pro bono services for CRA credit as an opportunity to build and grow relationships with nonprofits in the low and moderate income (“LMI”) communities where a financial institution operates;
  • What qualifies as community development services to LMI communities for purposes of the CRA;
  • Documentation required to demonstrate compliance with the CRA;
  • The importance of an institution’s “assessment area” when providing pro bono services; and,
  • Ensuring that pro bono service is addressed in an institution’s specific CRA evaluation method.

For more information, contact CPBO.

Wrapping Up Two Conferences in One: Revisiting the PBI 2022 Annual Conference

PBI has been busy this spring! The PBI 2022 Annual Conference kicked off on March 8, 2022, with two full days of in-person conference programming on March 9 and March 10. Held at the Capitol Hilton in Washington, D.C., some say that there was not a dull moment on the conference floor. But don’t take our word for it, take two minutes to watch PBI 2022 Annual Conference: The Movie, created by PBI staff for your viewing pleasure.

In addition to the in-person programming, PBI held a virtual program on April 7 and 8. The contagious energy among both facilitators and attendees continued through this event, which brought another onslaught of opportunities to learn, share, and come together as a pro bono community. Below are just a few takeaways from the PBI 2022 Annual Conference:

A hybrid environment may be here to stay as we move toward a post-pandemic world. As the world is returning to in-person activities, so are some legal offices and pro bono opportunities. However, many lawyers continue to work from home, at least in a part-time capacity.

Many pro bono opportunities are still being held virtually and some pro bono leaders are finding that virtual clinics and other opportunities are a positive addition to their program and allows them a broader reach. Others find that these opportunities are not gaining the same momentum that in-person pro bono events did. Nevertheless, it appears that for the foreseeable future, we will be balancing between an in-person and virtual world, and the pro bono community will continue to work toward the right balance to involve as many pro bono attorneys as possible.

Cultural competency is of major importance in being able to serve pro bono clients. Of course, pro bono attorneys want to do right by their clients and serve them as best they can. We learned during “The Role of Pro Bono Attorneys in the Fight for Systems Change” virtual session that sometimes even with the best intentions, pro bono attorneys fall short of truly understanding what their client is telling them. It is important not to allow your preconceived notions about an organization or individual lead you to make assumptions about how you can best serve them. Let them tell you. Remember, the client’s wants always come first.

An example of a time in which a pro bono attorney will need to keep cultural competency in mind might be when they’re representing an individual with an intellectual disability, mental health disorder, or serious mental illness. During the “FundaMental Advocacy” conference session, we learned some best practices in how to listen to and most effectively serve a client with mental health disabilities.

How to increase volunteer engagement and enthusiasm for pro bono is an ever-present question among in-house legal departments and law firms. Volunteer engagement in pro bono came up in many of the networking sessions during the PBI 2022 Annual Conference. Often a recurring concern, the events of 2020 and 2021 added more obstacles to the battle of increasing engagement among volunteers.

A few of the challenges that were raised included compassion fatigue, lack of pro bono work related to certain areas of interest, and bouncing from one hot-button issue to the next. Pro bono professionals are constantly being asked to adapt and find new ways to engage volunteers.

PBI continues to provide a variety of avenues for connection and engagement among pro bono professionals across the industry. For the first time in PBI history, we offered two options to attend the PBI Annual Conference. The in-person and virtual package and the virtual-only option were both offered so that we could provide as much opportunity as possible for learning, brainstorming, networking, and collaboration among pro bono professionals. As we move forward, PBI will continue to adapt to provide informative content as well as networking opportunities in ways that will be most accessible to the pro bono community.

Did you miss any of the programs from the 2022 PBI Annual Conference? Many sessions can be accessed on demand on West LegalEdcenter. Search for programming by Pro Bono Institute under “Content Provider.” Paid 2022 Annual Conference registrants should contact PBI for more information about how to revisit the Conference programs at no additional charge.

Looking for more takeaways from our conference? Helen Respass from Thomson Reuters published a blog post about the conference and the panel discussion she moderated, entitled “Tips and Takeaways from the Pro Bono Institute Annual Conference.”

Law Firm Pro Bono Project Reviews and Renews Challenge Definition of Pro Bono

Over the course of more than 25 years, the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® initiative, and its definition of pro bono, has become a de facto industry standard, currently guiding approximately 100,000 legal professionals at Challenge signatory law firms (as well as many other organizations). In its role as the Challenge administrator, Pro Bono Institute  initiated a review of the Challenge’s definition of pro bono in 2021. A result of this review has been the revision of the Challenge text to expressly incorporate work that “targets racial injustice and other systemic inequities.” In addition, in August 2021, PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project® initiative convened the Defining Law Firm Pro Bono working group to re-examine PBI’s Challenge guidance documents to ensure that they account for the evolved pro bono landscape, particularly with regard to impact finance and social impact, public rights, global pro bono, and racial justice. The group is expected to complete its work and make recommendations to PBI leadership later in 2022. Read more in this press release containing details regarding these developments and in the revised Challenge Statement.

PBI and CPBO on the Road

Heading to the 2022 ABA/NLADA Equal Justice Conference in Minneapolis?  We hope to see you at these PBI and CPBO-organized sessions!

Collaborative Justice: Improving Reentry Outcomes

The Minnesota Collaborative Justice Project seeks to dramatically improve the experiences and outcomes of formerly incarcerated individuals reentering the community. This case study addresses how diverse stakeholders can work together toward successful reentry, including through a unique pro bono program addressing civil legal needs of Federal Reentry Court participants.

Rocky DeYoung , Montage Reentry Solutions, St. Paul, MN
Shannon Elkins, Office of the Federal Defender for the District of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Eve Runyon, Pro Bono Institute, Washington, DC
Jim Volling, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP, Minneapolis, MN

Building Up In-House Pro Bono Partnerships and Opportunities

In-house pro bono continues to thrive and mature. Come learn how legal departments engage in pro bono, often in partnership with legal services organizations and law firms. Then in small groups we’ll develop strategies for engaging in-house lawyers and legal staff and learn how to work more effectively together.

Alyson Cauchy, U.S. Bank National Association**, Minneapolis, MN
Christy Kane, Entergy Legal Department**, New Orleans, LA
Jeffrey A. Proulx, Target Corporation**, Minneapolis, MN
Alyssa Saunders, Pro Bono Institute, Washington, DC

Commemorating the 75th Birthday of PBI's Founder

April 23 marks what would have been the 75th birthday of PBI’s late founder Esther F. Lardent. Esther established Pro Bono Institute more than 25 years ago and transformed the pro bono landscape. Today, PBI is at the forefront of supporting in-house legal departments and large law firms to enhance pro bono legal services. In addition to advising stakeholders on the nuts and bolts of successful programs, PBI leads collaborative efforts to tackle systemic hurdles hindering pro bono and access to justice.

As we see new crises emerge daily, and economic pressures mount, we know that pro bono professionals and volunteers will remain resilient­—and PBI will always stand with you to reduce barriers to justice for the most vulnerable people in our communities.

Please join us in celebrating Esther’s lifelong work to achieve equal justice for all by making a personal donation to Pro Bono Institute. With your support, we can ensure that the organization that Esther built stays strong and carries on her legacy of transforming the pro bono efforts of law firms, in-house law departments, and public interest organizations in the U.S. and around the world. Please visit the PBI website today to donate.

Our Latest Podcast: Staffing in the Name of Racial Justice Pro Bono

Since 2020, many law firms have incorporated new racial justice efforts into their pro bono programs. Some have hired pro bono professional staff whose primary focus is to expand the firm’s racial justice work. Others have expanded the roles and responsibilities of their pro bono professionals to include racial justice. In our latest podcast, hear from pro bono professional staff focused on racial justice: Diane Lucas, Pro Bono Counsel for Racial Justice Initiative at Davis Polk, Quinncy McNeal, Pro Bono Counsel at Husch Blackwell*†, and Corrine Irish, heading pro bono as a Partner at Squire Patton Boggs. Learn how the establishment of these pro bono professional roles has incorporated racial justice and pro bono to contribute to the firm’s long-term racial justice commitment. Listen here.

Homelessness & Housing Justice

In February when the Super Bowl was held at the SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, a sudden move to shut down a nearby homeless encampment focused the public’s attention on a longstanding issue — homelessness. In the past year, homelessness has become an important topic amongst state and city leaders in Los Angeles, where the population has increased to over 60,000 people in Los Angeles County. This estimate includes people that are unhoused and live amongst the street. However, it could be much larger due to the difficulty in finding and counting homeless people, and multiple delays in the annual point-in-time count due to COVID-19. The homeless population lacks funds for basic necessities, medical care, and legal needs. Of course, Los Angeles is only one example of a city facing a crisis in homelessness in recent months. Read more in this March PBEye blog.

Save the Date PBI 2022 Annual Dinner

Wednesday, November 2, 2022
Gotham Hall | 1356 Broadway (at 36th Street), New York NY

Join PBI for our annual event that brings together law firms, in-house legal departments, and others dedicated to advancing justice to recognize exceptional pro bono achievements and inspire innovations in the delivery of pro bono legal services.

PBI will present the:
2022 John H. Pickering Award
honoring a law firm for its outstanding commitment to pro bono legal services

2022 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award
honoring innovative pro bono collaborations of in-house legal departments with law firms and public interest organizations

For more information or to inquire about sponsorship opportunities, please contact:
Danny Reed, Director of Development | 202.729.6691

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