Media Release


PBI Honors Bruce Kuhlik and Merck for Committment to Pro Bono

Washington, D.C. – The Pro Bono Institute (PBI) has selected Bruce Kuhlik and the legal department of Merck & Co., Inc. as the winner of the 2013 Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award for their outstanding commitment to pro bono service. The award will be presented at the PBI Annual Conference Reception on March 15.

Under Kuhlik’s leadership, Merck’s legal department has seen tremendous growth in its pro bono efforts and has forged partnerships with organizations and companies that share Merck’s mission of enhancing their neighbors’ well-being. Merck’s pro bono program currently includes more than 175 attorneys, paralegals, and administrative associates from offices around the world.

“Bruce and the legal department at Merck have done an excellent job with their pro bono program in taking on such impactful projects and forging strong partnerships,” PBI President and CEO Esther F. Lardent said. “Merck’s pro bono program serves as an exemplary model for other legal departments working to enhance their pro bono efforts.”

For nearly 20 years, Merck’s pro bono program has provided thousands of hours of support and helped hundreds of individuals and organizations in need of legal assistance. The program was founded by General Counsel Mary McDonald in 1994 and grew substantially under the leadership of Ken Frazier, Merck’s current CEO, during his years as General Counsel.  Merck’s projects include assisting low-income consumer debtors file for bankruptcy, providing life-stabilizing legal services to displaced or transitional veterans, and working with Accenture plc, Caterpillar Inc., Baker & McKenzie and PILnet to empower women in Nepal with the goal of reducing socioeconomic and sexual exploitation. Merck also has worked to help Holocaust survivors applying for reparations, pensions and other benefits.

With guidance and assistance from PBI and pro bono consultants at Deloitte Financial Advisory Services, Merck is testing new metrics tools to better assess the impact and effectiveness of its pro bono efforts. Once the tools have been tested, implemented and analyzed, Merck plans to share its pioneering efforts with other corporate legal departments and law firms to revolutionize and enhance their pro bono efforts.

“At Merck, we believe that with corporate success comes social responsibility, and we strive to make a difference in our local, national and international communities,” Kuhlik said. “We are honored that the Pro Bono Institute has chosen to recognize our work in helping those without access to legal advice get equal justice under the law.”

About Merck
Today’s Merck is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer care and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visit and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

About the Pro Bono Institute
Established in 1996, 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 BonoSM, Second Acts®, Global Pro Bono, and Public Interest Pro Bono.