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July/August 2017

Signatories Surpass Challenge Goals

PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project recently released its annual Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Report. One hundred thirty-five law firms collectively reported increases in total pro bono hours, pro bono hours for those of limited means, attorney participation rates, and charitable giving to legal services organizations for the 2016 calendar year. Lives are being improved, rights are being protected, and access to justice is being advanced every day.

Among the many takeaways from this year’s Report, firms are surpassing their challenge goals. Fifty-six percent of firms either performed the same amount or increased their pro bono hours over 2015. Major growth is possible: twenty percent of firms reported a significant expansion in their hours (in excess of twenty percent over 2015). As always, we are grateful to our signatories for their dedication and leading the way in pro bono.

Want to get an in-depth look at the findings? Check out these resources:

Overall, we are encouraged that Challenge signatories are generally more successful than their peer firms who have not yet enrolled in the Challenge. While we do not claim causality, the correlation is notable. Signatories often confirm that making a public commitment to the Challenge heightens awareness of pro bono internally, increases attorney participation, engages firm leadership, and sets a clear, measurable, and shared focus for success.

For firms who have not yet joined because of a concern that you cannot yet meet the Challenge goals, we encourage you to enroll and use this proven tool to advance pro bono at your firm. There is no downside, as we do not publicize disaggregate statistics, nor do we in any way identify individual firms as having not met the Challenge goals. Firms of 50 or more lawyers are welcome to join the Challenge at any time and are given a grace period before the reporting requirement kicks in. Now is the perfect opportunity to join our efforts to improve access to justice. Please contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Elysse DeRita, for more information on becoming a signatory and a leader in law firm pro bono.

Law Firm Pro Bono Project staff members spend their days talking to public interest leaders and your colleagues at law firms, and we serve as confidential sources of ideas, inspiration, and practical solutions. We can be a sounding board and a source of referrals and materials (so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel), as well as a strategic ally in your efforts to improve pro bono at your firm. To access the wide range of our services and resources, please contact us.

And the Winners Are...

Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO) is proud to announce the recipients of the 2017 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Awards. The 2017 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award – Small Law goes to Alcoa Corporation and Arconic Inc. in partnership with Meyer, Unkovic & Scott for their work on the Landlord Tenant Project. The Large Law Pro Bono Partner Award recognizes the partnership between UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (UHG)** and Connecticut Veterans Legal Center (CVLC) on their project, “Review-A-Rama.”

Pro Bono Partner Award – Small Law

The Landlord Tenant Project (Project) assists low-income individuals facing landlord-tenant and other housing legal issues. These issues are of paramount importance in focusing on a basic need of all people: safe and affordable housing. Through the Project, volunteers represent families and individuals at housing denial hearings and staff a hotline which provides advice and, when appropriate, brief services.

Pro Bono Partner Award – Large Law

Review-A-Rama engages members of the UHG Legal, Compliance & Regulatory Affairs Department (LCRA) to review massive files of medical and military documents and provide detailed summaries to CVLC attorneys who represent veterans in disability benefit claims with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. As a result of Review-A-Rama and UHG’s efforts, CVLC is able to offer full-scope representation to more veterans in need.

2017 Pickering Award: Kirkland & Ellis

PBI, in conjunction with Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr*† and the Pickering family, is proud to present its 2017 John H. Pickering Award to Kirkland & Ellis*† in recognition of its diverse pro bono program that holistically demonstrates an institutionalized approach to strengthening access to justice around the world.

Kirkland & Ellis, a founding member of PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project and a signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® initiative, has been a longtime leader in pro bono. The firm supports and promotes access to justice through meaningful pro bono projects that span a variety of issues.

PBI would like to congratulate these awardees for their commitment to pro bono. These organizations will be honored September 28 at PBI’s 2017 Annual Dinner.

Four Fantastic Interns

We are delighted to report that this summer PBI welcomed our eighth class of Sheehan Scholars. Bob Sheehan, who oversees the pro bono program at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom*†, former Executive Partner (1994-2009) and Co-Chair of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project Advisory Committee (2001-2015), and his family provided the financial support to launch this program in 2010, which has been named in his honor in recognition of his extraordinary pro bono leadership.

From left to right: Madeline Jenks (Harvard Law School), Kelsey Muniz (University of Michigan), Sahil Shah (University of Michigan), and Erin Killeen (Georgetown University Law Center)

Selected from an overwhelming number of applicants, the 2017 Sheehan Scholars are two impressive law students: Madeline Jenks (Harvard Law School) and Erin Killeen (Georgetown University Law Center). We are grateful to the Sheehan family for their generosity and to Madeline and Erin for spending their summers with us. They have been joined by two terrific undergraduates from the University of Michigan: Kelsey Muniz and Sahil Shah. You’ve already seen the fruits of their labors and will continue to do so in the weeks and months ahead. And stay tuned: you’ll be hearing from them about their time at PBI on an upcoming episode of our Pro Bono Happy Hour podcast. 

We are grateful for their diligence and dedication. Thank you, Erin, Kelsey, Madeline, and Sahil for your energy and fresh perspectives! We are also appreciative of the firms and individuals who supported our summer program by inviting our interns and staff to events and donating time to provide additional professional development opportunities.

Bite-Sized Information

It can often seem daunting to many looking to start their own in-house pro bono programs or even expand an existing one. From deciding with whom to partner and how to handle insurance to which projects to undertake, no one pursuing pro bono work has to do it alone. Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO), a partnership project of PBI and the Association of Corporate Counsel, has developed a wide variety of resources for ACC chapters and legal departments of any size to aid in developing and strengthening their in-house pro bono programs. This month, CPBO has new additions to two publication series: Best Practice Profiles and Infographics.  

Although each pro bono program is uniquely designed to fit the needs and interests of the ACC chapter or department and the community it serves, there are successful practices that peer departments and ACC chapters can learn from and replicate. CPBO shares some of these practices in its best practice profiles of ACC chapters and legal departments, which provide examples of methods, tools, and policies to use in developing and expanding pro bono programs. Recently, CPBO has updated and added a comprehensive profile on Ford Motor Company** to a growing pool of over 25.

In addition to best practice profiles and infographics, CPBO’s website contains a variety of materials appropriate for ACC chapters and departments with pro bono programs of any maturity level. For more information about CPBO or in-house pro bono, please contact CPBO at Looking for more bite-sized portions of information? CPBO offers a series of infographics that target important aspects of in-house pro bono. These infographics supplement CPBO’s Benchmarking Reports, which cover topics such as pro bono program administration, policy details, and malpractice insurance, and the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® Reports, which provide insight into participation rates, global pro bono, and demographics. The latest installment in the series covers in-house pro bono insurance options and feature a decision tree to help guide potential volunteers to the method of insurance that will work best for them.

Law Firm Member Discounts

It’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project membership season. Complete and return the 2017-2018 membership enrollment form by mail or online now to publicly demonstrate your firm’s support for pro bono. Submit your form before September 1 to receive a 10 percent discount.

Why wait? Renew or join today so you don’t lose the many valuable benefits available exclusively to Law Firm Project members, such as free publications, webinars, and the members-only section in the Project’s Resource Clearinghouse. If you have not visited the Clearinghouse recently, check it out. 

As a member firm, you will have access to a variety of additional services and resources designed to help you create and maintain a successful pro bono program, such as expert consultative services and discounted registration to the PBI Annual Conference. Please contact Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Elysse DeRita, if you have any questions.