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What an incredible night! Pro Bono Institute hosted its 2019 Annual Dinner, themed “Changing Lives Through Pro Bono,” on October 10 at Gotham Hall in New York. Dinner Co-Chairs Matthew W. Cooper, General Counsel, Capital One Financial Corporation**, and Amy E. Weaver, President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, and General Counsel, Salesforce**, welcomed more than 300 pro bono leaders to celebrate and recognize the tremendous pro bono efforts and accomplishments of law firms, legal departments, and public interest partners.
PBI has begun its search for a new Law Firm Pro Bono Project Director, working with search firm DRi Consulting to find a creative, energetic, and experienced candidate ready to lead the Law Firm Pro Bono Project. Reporting to PBI’s President & CEO, the Director will be instrumental in shaping the strategic direction of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project by identifying key innovations to expand pro bono and improve access to justice.
The Director should be an entrepreneurial visionary who can see the big picture and who is also able to roll up their sleeves and get things done. The Director should be an expert and strategic leader who understands the modern law firm pro bono landscape.
PBI’s 2020 Annual Conference is around the corner. Be sure to save the date for the legal community’s premier pro bono event. The 2020 Conference will offer sessions for seasoned pro bono pros as well as newcomers to the field, unparalleled networking opportunities, and special events with pro bono leaders and visionaries.
Corporate Pro Bono’s 2018 Challenge® Report on The Expansion of In-House Pro Bono, released earlier this year, provides the latest data on in-house pro bono participation by Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatories. The Chief Legal Officers of Corporate Pro Bono Challenge signatories make a voluntary commitment to the aspirational goal of 50% participation by their legal department in pro bono annually. CPBO asks signatories each year to report data on pro bono participation by their departments.
Overall, 74% of the respondents in 2018 met or exceeded the goal of 50 percent participation by attorneys, and 30% of the respondents met or exceeded the goal of 50% participation by other legal department staff. On average, 60% of attorneys and 37% of other legal professionals participated in pro bono in the United States.
An increasing number of respondents are engaging in global pro bono. 45 percent of responding signatories engaged in global pro bono in the prior year. An average of 16% of lawyers based outside of the U.S. participated in pro bono.
Additionally, the report shows that among companies that responded to the survey in two consecutive years, pro bono participation increased from 56% to 61% for lawyers in the U.S. Additionally, the percentage of responding signatories that met or exceeded the goal of 50% participation increased from 63% to 75%.
For more information, please review the report here.
The 2019 Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona featured a CPBO-organized session on October 29 titled “Growing In-House Pro Bono,” which provided an overview of critical issues impacting how legal departments can build and grow a successful pro bono program. Alyssa Saunders, PBI’s Director of Corporate Pro Bono, served as moderator for a panel of professionals with deep in-house pro bono and access to justice experience. The panel consisted of Kevin Groman, Chair of the Arizona ACC In-House Counsel Pro Bono Commission, and Founding Principal, Crown Canyon; Kim Takacs, VP, Global IT & Ops Risk and Governance at Chubb Group; Luise Welby, Senior Associate General Counsel at Freddie Mac; and the Honorable Lawrence Winthrop, Judge, Arizona Court of Appeals and Chair of the Arizona Commission Access to Justice. The audience consisted of in-house counsel from around the world. Some in attendance came from companies that have formal pro bono programs, while others came from companies that do not have a pro bono program at all, or have only dabbled in pro bono.
The session began with an introduction to the Corporate Pro Bono project, as well as information highlighting the growth of in-house pro bono, and the increasing number of legal departments that have engaged in pro bono efforts. The panel covered topics including the ethical obligation to do pro bono, building a culture of pro bono, setting the tone from the top, factors impacting pro bono project selection, the nuances of pro bono partnerships, and tips for increasing participation and recognizing volunteers. The panel engaged in lively, passionate, and thoughtful discussion that inspired audience members to pose their specific concerns and questions to the panelists. CPBO looks forward to continuing the conversation about in-house pro bono after the participants return from Phoenix to their far-flung locations.
CPBO has released two new infographics to help in-house counsel engage in pro bono:
The Why Do Pro Bono infographic reviews how pro bono work adds value for in-house lawyers and legal staff, for legal departments and companies, and for the communities where in-house counsel live and work. Personal benefits include honing skills, improving productivity, and increasing personal job satisfaction. The business case for pro bono includes building morale, creating opportunities for teamwork, enhancing the corporate reputation in the community, and improving employee retention. The community benefits because in-house counsel can focus on delivering a variety of critical legal needs to low-income members of their communities, including education, immigration, housing, and economic development.
The Ethics of In-House Pro Bono infographic is a visual representation of select practice and other ethics rules related to pro bono legal services by lawyers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This infographic highlights issues frequently encountered in pro bono practice, ranging from rules governing whether registered in-house counsel, retired attorneys, and out-of-state attorneys can engage in pro bono, to “Katrina rules” governing pro bono after a disaster, to pro bono reporting, to pro bono and continuing legal education. The infographic provides a helpful overview of the variety of rules and policies impacting pro bono across the United States. (The infographic is not intended to cover all applicable ethics and practice rules. Please consult your local rules for additional guidance.)
The Association of Corporate Counsel New York City Chapter (ACC-NYC), Cooley LLP, and Volunteers of Legal Services (VOLS) joined with Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO) in October to run a Clinic in a Box® program serving New York microenterprises. The clinic provided a transactional pro bono opportunity for in-house counsel in the greater New York area. During the first half of the clinic, in-house volunteers received training from experts at Cooley LLP, who provided them with information needed to counsel new business owners on topics including choice of entity, formation documents, business name selection, and taxes.
During the second half of the clinic, 23 in-house volunteers met with seven entrepreneurs to counsel them through the business formation process, including starting the necessary paperwork and making a plan for what needs to happen next. The small businesses served included cosmetic companies, a laundromat, a yoga company, a social work staffing agency, a spoken word performance troupe, and a vegan cheese company.
The clinic was a success for both the clients and volunteers; one client commented that she felt “overjoyed with the assistance provided today” while a volunteer complimented the program for being both “productive and enjoyable.” CPBO congratulates all of its co-hosts on a successful clinic and looks forward to serving microenterprises and nonprofits at future clinics.
* denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® signatory
** denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory
† denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Project® member