WASHINGTON, D.C. – Pro Bono Institute (PBI) has selected Gregory B. Jordan and the Legal Department of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (PNC) as the recipient of the 2018 Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award for its pro bono efforts and leadership within the legal community to increase pro bono legal services and improve access to justice. The award will be presented at a lunch reception at the 2018 PBI Annual Conference at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C., on February 22.
PNC’s commitment to “helping to build strong communities and create financial opportunities for individuals, families and businesses” shines through in its dedication to pro bono. PNC has engaged its legal staff in pro bono across every legal department office: Chicago, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C.
Under Jordan’s leadership, PNC began developing its pro bono program in December 2013. One of the department’s first steps was to form a pro bono committee, chaired by Mark Gittelman, Chief Practice Counsel for Asset Recovery at PNC. Gittelman and his colleagues spent months researching pro bono opportunities, drafting policies, and addressing common concerns, like malpractice insurance and matter management. The committee created an infrastructure, including a website to manage the program and forms to streamline volunteer engagement. With 30 engagements in the second half of 2014 and more than 70 in 2015, the project far surpassed its goals. Those numbers also show the program is achieving its goal of ingraining pro bono work in the culture of the company’s legal employees.
“Greg and his team have built a strong culture of pro bono. Every member is encouraged and empowered to engage in it,” said Eve Runyon, PBI President and CEO. “Creating a culture that embraces and sustains pro bono engagement does not happen overnight. We’re proud to recognize PNC’s efforts, time, and dedication through this award.”
PNC’s lawyers are engaged in a range of pro bono projects, including: helping aspiring small-business owners with the legal aspects of forming their business, and creating wills and living wills for senior citizens. Staff are involved with initiatives like The Name Change Project, which helps transgender people navigate the legal aspects of changing their names to match their identities, and the Special Immigrant Juvenile Project, which assists guardians obtain legal custody of refugee children.
PNC lawyers are also providing legal services to Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs to assist disabled veterans, and to youths in the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia foster care system, making sure that, while other lawyers are looking out for their parents’ interests, someone is advocating for them. The program also recently added a Pittsburgh location to the work PNC’s lawyers in Philadelphia have been doing with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. PNC’s pro bono program has also added legal service clinics in more cities across the company’s footprint, and begun coordinating efforts between SeniorLAW Center locations in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to protect the rights of older Pennsylvanians.
“We are honored by this recognition from Pro Bono Institute, a leader in the provision of pro bono by law firms and legal departments,” Jordan said. “PNC strongly advocates for the physical, financial and personal well-being of our communities. Providing pro bono legal services to the most vulnerable among us is one important way we can deliver on this value.”
About PBI’s Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award
The award is given each year to an individual or organization that has provided exemplary pro bono service. It honors the leadership of Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal Laurie D. Zelon, who was one of the originators of the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®. Past recipients include chief legal officers from Aetna, Inc., BNY Mellon, Exelon Corporation, General Electric Company, Microsoft Corporation, Merck & Co., Inc., Intel Corporation, and among others.
About Pro Bono Institute
Founded in 1996, Pro Bono Institute (PBI) is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization. With an unparalleled depth of knowledge, resources and expertise, PBI is the respected resource for all things pro bono. Through PBI’s work with law firms, in-house legal departments, and public interest organizations, PBI is the global thought leader in exploring, identifying, evaluating, catalyzing, and taking to scale new approaches to and resources for the provision of legal services to the poor, disadvantaged, and other individuals or groups unable to secure legal assistance to address critical problems. For more information, visit www.probonoinst.org.
About The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.
Operating primarily in 19 states and the District of Columbia, PNC provides retail and business banking, including a full range of lending products; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management and asset management.