WASHINGTON, D.C. – Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO) announced today that it has selected American International Group, Inc.’s (AIG) Global Legal, Compliance, Regulatory, and Government Affairs department (GLCR), and the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) to receive the 2014 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award for their pioneering, collaborative effort to serve the legal needs of refugees in the Middle East, whose lives are in imminent danger due to their work with the U.S. government. CPBO, the global partnership project of Pro Bono Institute (PBI) and the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), will present the award at the 2014 PBI Annual Dinner on November 6 in New York.
Since the start of the partnership between AIG and IRAP, 36 AIG attorneys and para-professionals in the U.S., working in teams of three and four with the assistance of colleagues in Germany and the United Arab Emirates, have provided more than 650 hours of legal assistance to Afghan nationals who have aided the U.S., often as interpreters, and who are now targets of anti-American violence. Members of the GLCR represent individual clients and assist in the process of gathering information and completing the forms and procedures necessary to navigate the complex bureaucratic system and successfully obtain Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) for at-risk individuals. In addition, AIG has assisted IRAP with the appeal of an SIV rejection, has donated funds for the effort, and offered its government relations expertise.
“Partnering with outside organizations to expand the legal services that can be delivered to those who need it most is a win-win for all entities involved, most importantly for the clients who in this case received help with matters of life and death,” PBI President and CEO Esther F. Lardent said. “Through this partnership, AIG and IRAP are giving many of their clients who are in dire circumstances a fresh start and security that they likely would not have received otherwise.”
The effectiveness of the partnership between AIG and IRAP has been proven repeatedly, from a client who successfully obtained a visa and began a new life in the U.S. to contributions to three major policy/legislative victories. The first victory in October 2013 was the extension of the Iraqi SIV program, followed by landmark legislation that made improvements to the SIV application process including giving SIV applicants access to counsel in overseas proceedings and the right to appeal SIV rejections, and finally the addition of 1,000 visas to the Afghan SIV program.
“When we started our pro bono program in 2012, we approached it with the goal of doing good work for those in need in a way that would have a meaningful impact in their lives as well as the lives of our attorneys and staff. Through our partnership with IRAP, we have been able to do that,” AIG Executive Vice President and General Counsel Thomas Russo said. “It has been a very rewarding experience, and we are truly honored to receive this award from CPBO.”
The CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award recognizes the unique role partnerships, between and among in-house legal departments, law firms, and public interest groups, play in increasing access to justice.
“The partnership between AIG and IRAP to serve refugees whose lives are in danger exemplifies what can be accomplished when organizations come together to make a meaningful impact in the lives of those who need help,” ACC President and CEO Veta T. Richardson said. “This type of collaboration, particularly with its life-saving results, serves as a shining example of the power of pro bono.”
American International Group, Inc. (AIG) is a leading international insurance organization serving customers in more than 130 countries and jurisdictions. AIG companies serve commercial, institutional, and individual customers through one of the most extensive worldwide property-casualty networks of any insurer. In addition, AIG companies are leading providers of life insurance and retirement services in the United States. AIG common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
The Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) organizes law students and lawyers to develop and enforce a system of legal and human rights for refugees through a combination of direct legal aid and systemic advocacy. IRAP has successfully resettled more than 2,000 refugees in life or death situations, including Iraqis and Afghans at risk for their work as interpreters with the U.S. military, children with medical emergencies, women who are survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and survivors of torture. IRAP is currently working on the cases of more than 350 families.
About Corporate Pro Bono
Corporate Pro Bono, the global partnership project of PBI and ACC, is designed to substantially increase the amount of pro bono work performed by in-house counsel and to enhance the pro bono culture of in-house legal departments through consultative services to the in-house community, targeted research and publications, online information and services, and outreach and educational programming. CPBO also works closely with ACC Chapters to focus their resources and agendas on pro bono service. For more information, visit www.cpbo.org.
About Pro Bono Institute
Established in 1996, Pro Bono Institute (PBI) is a nonprofit organization with a mandate to explore and identify new approaches to the poor and disadvantaged unable to secure legal assistance to address critical problems. In doing so, PBI identifies and develops innovative programs and undertakes rigorous evaluations to ensure that these new approaches are workable and effective. PBI administers a number of projects designed to enhance access to justice, including the Law Firm Pro Bono Project®, Corporate Pro Bono®, Second Acts®, Global Pro Bono, and the Public Interest Project.
About the Association of Corporate Counsel
ACC is a global bar association that promotes the common professional and business interests of in-house counsel who work for corporations, associations, and other private-sector organizations through information, education, networking opportunities and advocacy initiatives. The association has more than 30,000 members in more than 75 countries, employed by over 10,000 organizations, ACC connects its members to the people and resources necessary for both personal and professional growth. By in-house counsel, for in-house counsel.®