Global Spotlight: Elephant Energy

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”  Light, and pro bono service, we’d like to add.  This week, The PBEye spied a pro bono empowered initiative, Elephant Energy, that quite literally drives out darkness from rural villages across Namibia by distributing sustainable energy technologies. Namibia lacks the resources to meet the energy needs of its rural population.  Daily livelihood activities are rendered unsafe, inefficient, or even impossible without electricity.  For example, between 1.3 and 1.6 million women and children die worldwide each year as a result of air pollution caused by smoke inhalation from cooking

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SPENT

Poverty in the United States is often seen as a matter of choice and personal responsibility – we work hard, and they don’t. In reality, the difference between “us” and “them” can often be as random as a layoff, divorce, death in the family, medical emergency, or natural disaster. Nevertheless, the belief that “I’ll never be in that position” runs deep and this mindset, along with issues associated with class culture, and diversity, can pose a range of challenges for even the most well-meaning and sensitive law firm pro bono programs and participating lawyers. Poverty simulation exercises are one fantastic

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Post-Flood Pro Bono in Pakistan

One year after last summer’s devastating and deadly floods, many of Pakistan’s 1,096,000 internally displaced people, along with Pakistan’s 702,000 Afghan refugees, remain hungry, homeless, and vulnerable to an array of grave rights violations.  The PBEye is relieved to report that pro bono is beginning to make an appearance in Pakistan.  According to The Pakistan Observer, the Islamabad-based NGO Struggle for Change (SACH) is harnessing pro bono power to protect victims of torture and other traumatic human rights violations.  SACH supplies survivors with shelter, medical treatment, psychological support, and free legal services. Extensive recent media coverage of events in Pakistan and Afghanistan

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Colbert Report Investigates Voting Rights

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c Voter ID Laws www.colbertnation.com Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive As the country gears up for the 2012 presidential election, an episode on last week’s Colbert Report took aim at state efforts to safeguard against alleged “voter fraud.”  Many states, including Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin have passed or are considering legislation that would require voters to produce government-issued photo IDs at the polls.  These bills create new hurdles to the ballot box that are especially high for low-income, minority, college-age, and elderly voters,

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Global Spotlight: Vitamin Angels

Surely by now you’ve read our article, Pro Bono Food for Thought: Improving Access to Nutrition, in this month’s edition of The Wire, so you’re well aware of the important role pro bono plays in improving access to food and nutrition across America.  As it turns out, nutrition is an equally vital enterprise for firms and legal departments seeking to do global pro bono as well. Nine hundred and twenty-five million – or one out of every seven people in the world – went hungry last year, and one in three people in developing countries suffers vitamin and mineral deficiencies.  According to UNICEF, children are exceptionally vulnerable:

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Collaborating to Serve Consumer Debtors

In response to the economic downturn, a group of legal departments and a law firm are collaborating to support a New Jersey Volunteer Lawyers for Justice project dedicated to tackling issues facing consumer debtors.  Lawyers from Prudential, AT&T**, Merck** and McCarter & English LLP* banded together to form Newark Legal Aid and Resource Clinic for Consumers (NLARCC), which provides legal assistance to an ever-increasing number of self-represented consumer debtors.  Together, the group of lawyers has significantly increased capacity to address the uptick in consumer legal issues. The N.J. court system has been inundated with consumer-related cases, and the work of volunteer

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Ashe Awardee Fights for Justice

Yet again, pro bono is found where one would least expect it.  The PBEye was pleased to hear that  ESPN gave  the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage to Dewey Rader Bozella at its annual ESPY Awards earlier this week.  Bozella, 51, was imprisoned for 26 years following a wrongful conviction in the gruesome murder of a 92-year-old woman in 1977. Our own Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Signatory WilmerHale was the firm behind Bozella’s 2009 release.  But this pro bono miracle came only after many trials and tribulations for this innocent man.  Bozella had a rough childhood, from witnessing his

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More Summer Reading: Harnessing the Power of Feedback Loops

We’ve come across an interesting new article that has intriguing implications for law firm pro bono.  Harnessing the Power of Feedback Loops in the July issue of Wired explores how we can create subtle reminders that encourage us to do better.  The idea of a feedback loop is simple: give people information about their actions in real time, then give them a chance to change those actions, encouraging them to improve their behaviors. A feedback loop involves four stages: 1.  Behavior must be measured, captured, and stored.  As they say, you can’t change what you don’t measure.  This is the

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VIDEO: Legal Services and You

As pro bono has grown and evolved over the years, partnerships among the various stakeholders regarding access to justice issues have become increasingly popular.  Collaborations between law firms, corporate legal departments and legal services organizations have become more common as a way to pool resources and expertise for pro bono legal work.  Now we are seeing even more involvement from government as various jurisdictions look to maximize often scarce resources for the administration of justice. The PBEye recently had a chance to speak with our friend Jim Sandman, president of the Legal Services Corporation, a federally established nonprofit designed to

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Challenge Firms Champion Rights of Refugees

Human Rights First celebrated World Refugee Day 2011 by paying homage to their law firm partners for outstanding pro bono legal service on behalf of indigent refugees.  Refugees are persons who are unable or unwilling to return to their native countries due to a well-founded fear of persecution or because their lives or freedom would be threatened.  The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that, by the end of last year, nearly 44 million people had been forcibly displaced worldwide, 15.4 million of them refugees. Many displaced men, women, and children spend years living in crowded camps, others languish in detention

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