Transactional Pro Bono

Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO) project is excited to highlight the legal department of Advance for this month’s Signatory Showcase. In 2022, Advance partnered with the nonprofit Start Small Think Big (SSTB) to provide transactional legal services to Black and women-owned small business owners in the e-commerce field making less than $50,000 a year. The volunteers applied their commercial lawyering expertise on a variety of issues, ranging from privacy to terms of use for doing business online to intellectual property. SSTB provided support to the volunteers, including template documents that the volunteers could review and customize before they met with the clients.  CPBO spoke

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PBI Organizes Legal Leaders in the Business Community in Support of Legal Aid

By Emily Cardona, PBI Intern For the seventh year in a row, legal department leaders have rallied to support the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the largest funder of civil legal aid in the United States. Pro Bono Institute (PBI) and its global in-house project, Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO), along with the National Legal Aid & Defender Association and the Association of Corporate Counsel, recently circulated a letter inviting the General Counsel and Chief Legal Officers to sign on in support of increasing LSC’s funding for Fiscal Year 2024. The General Counsels and Chief Legal Officers from 208 corporations signed a letter of support for increased funding

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Intellectual Property Rights

by Hitha Bollu, PBI Intern The United States prides itself on being a center for innovation, with much of that innovation coming from smaller enterprises. Small businesses produce over 14 times more patents than large businesses and universities, and employ nearly 40 percent of America’s scientists and engineers. And, of course, even the largest well known innovative firms were once small businesses. Unfortunately, without protection of their intellectual property, small businesses can find it difficult to attract capital because potential investors know more established businesses could copy the ideas, methods and practices of smaller businesses, and use their greater resources to market more

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2023 PBI Annual Conference Takeaways

At the end of February, PBI hosted the 2023 Annual Conference in Washington, DC. For the first time since 2019, the Annual Conference was held entirely in-person in Washington, DC. With over 200 attendees from law firms, in-house departments, and public interest organizations, the 2023 Annual Conference sparked passionate and insightful discussions surrounding many pro bono topics. Here are a few takeaways from the Conference: The number of lawyers doing pro bono in the U.S. is increasing, but so is the number of individuals without access to justice. During their plenary presentation, Jim Sandman, Distinguished Lecturer and Director of the Future of

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Making Voting Rights Meaningful for People with Disabilities

By Nathan Price, PBI Intern, and PBI staff Participating in the election of public officials is a cornerstone of American Democracy and a core process for helping America ensure political freedom. According to recent U.S. Census Bureau statistics, 73 percent of U.S. citizens without disabilities reported being registered to vote and 67.5 percent of U.S. citizens without disabilities reported voting in the 2020 presidential elections, the highest turnout in the current century.[1] In contrast, only 70 percent of U.S. citizens with any disability[2] reported being registered, and just 61.8 percent of citizens with any disability reported voting — amounting to a 4

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Housing Justice

As part of the Challenge Signatory Showcase, Corporate Pro Bono is excited to highlight The Williams Companies**, and their housing justice pro bono project. We chatted with Williams’ Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Lane Wilson, about the project and the impact that it has on tenants who are unable to afford legal representation when faced with eviction. Wilson also discussed with us the importance of having a general counsel who is involved in the department’s pro bono program.   LW: One of the many ways Williams’ employees implement our Responsible Stewards Core Value is to support the communities where we work and live.

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Bringing Legal Resources to Legal Deserts

Legal deserts are regions in the United States that have no or few attorneys. These regions are generally rural communities. In recent years, the legal community has analyzed the characteristics and consequences of legal deserts, and their impact on access to justice. For example, in 2018, a Harvard Law & Policy Review article surveyed parts of California, Georgia, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maine, and South Dakota, called for increased data collection about legal deserts, and recommended creative approaches to provide legal resources to residents in those communities. The study found common challenges across these diverse states with regard to addressing legal deserts. These challenges were exacerbated by the

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Dobbs Decision Galvanizes Reproductive Rights Pro Bono Work

by Hitha Bollu, PBI Intern 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

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Attorney Fee Awards in Pro Bono Cases

By Ciera Cockrell, PBI Intern Pro bono work is essential to help meet the vast civil legal needs of under-resourced populations. While the primary goal of most attorneys engaged in pro bono litigation is certainly not to secure personal monetary gain, fee-shifting statutory provisions allow for monetary remuneration in the form of attorney fee awards. Securing these awards aids in encouraging law firms and other organizations to continue litigating public interest issues. Trends show that many large firms who prevail in their pro bono cases and secure attorney fee awards donate part or all of that award to a non-profit organization involved in impacting

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Government Lawyer Pro Bono 

by Cynthia Montoya On August 16, 2022, the Pro Bono Legal Representation Expansion Amendment Act of 2022 went into effect in Washington, DC, permitting local government lawyers to participate in pro bono subject to certain restrictions. This legal change in our hometown inspired PBEye to do a deeper dive on government lawyer pro bono. Pro bono work is an ethical obligation that should be easily accessible for every legal professional, including those who work in all levels of the government. Yet, participating in pro bono work can be complicated for some government lawyers. Some offices have policies restricting the type of pro

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