in partnership with the
Hampden County Bar Association Legal Clinic
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO) has selected Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) to receive the 2018 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award – Large Law. The Award recognizes the partnership between MassMutual and the Hampden County Bar Association (HCBA) Legal Clinic for their strategic collaboration to expand pro bono programs that improve access to justice for the underserved residents of Hampden County, Massachusetts.
CPBO is the global partnership project of Pro Bono Institute (PBI) and the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC). PBI will present the award at its 2018 Annual Dinner on October 4 in New York.
A recent study by the Boston Bar Association found that civil legal aid programs in Massachusetts turn away 64 percent of eligible low-income residents due to a lack of legal resources. Hampden County, the most populous county in western Massachusetts, with the second highest poverty rate in the state (17.7 percent), has a critical need to both increase the participation of local lawyers in pro bono service and expand opportunities for pro bono in the area. The partnership between MassMutual and the HCBA Legal Clinic is designed to fill this justice gap.
MassMutual and the HCBA Legal Clinic began partnering on pro bono in 2007 (the year that MassMutual founded its pro bono program) and developed their current program in 2011, with MassMutual providing the HCBA Legal Clinic both grant funding and volunteer participation in the HCBA Legal Clinic’s pro bono programs. Since then, MassMutual has undertaken complete financial sponsorship of the HCBA Legal Clinic and continued its support through the present day. In 2017, nearly 90 percent of the attorneys in MassMutual’s Corporate Law Department, along with almost 50 percent of its administrative and paralegal staff, participated in pro bono services. Together they donated more than 1,000 hours of service. With the funding and support from MassMutual, the HCBA Legal Clinic has become a leading center for pro bono service in western Massachusetts.
The HCBA Legal Clinic currently oversees or is associated with programs in the Springfield District Court, Western Division Housing Court, and Hampden Probate and Family Court through several initiatives. These initiatives include programs that guide consumers with forms, match volunteer lawyers with litigants in eviction cases, provide legal advice, prepare financial statements, and much more. Through this partnership, MassMutual has provided a wealth of resources beyond funding and volunteers that would not otherwise be available to the HCBA Legal Clinic. These resources include logistical support and hardware, expertise of MassMutual’s data scientists to provide technological and data capabilities to the HCBA Legal Clinic, and in-house training for the program’s volunteers who wish to develop competencies to support their pro bono efforts.
The partnership has been tremendously successful in promoting pro bono service through the many programs the HCBA Legal Clinic operates and has created pro bono opportunities for attorneys outside of the partnership. In 2017, the District Court Lawyer for the Day program had 77 volunteer placements, resulting in 308 pro bono hours, serving 431 individuals. Additionally, the Housing Lawyer for a Day Program included 87 volunteer placements resulting in 322 pro bono hours, serving 348 individuals. This model of collaboration has been successful in expanding pro bono participation by the private bar in greater Springfield.
“This partnership has played a critical role in ensuring that pro bono assistance is available to vulnerable members of the public,” said PBI President and CEO Eve Runyon. “This decade-long partnership is a shining example of a sustainable model that addresses a critical need. MassMutual has gone above and beyond to engage with its pro bono partners to close the access to justice gap in Hampden County and elevate the scope and number of pro bono opportunities for their employees as well as legal professionals throughout their community.”
“We thank PBI and CPBO for recognizing our partnership with MassMutual,” said Noreen Nardi, the HCBA’s executive director. “To have a partner in MassMutual that shares our belief in improving access to justice is tremendous. We will continue together to work to address the unmet need for civil legal assistance in our community.”
“Hampden County has been home to MassMutual since our founding more than 167 years ago, and we believe it is critical to invest our time, talent, and resources to ensure that all members of this great community have access to the legal services they deserve,” said Michael O’Connor, MassMutual’s General Counsel. “We look forward to both continuing this relationship with the HCBA Legal Clinic and seeing even more attorneys throughout the area give back through the Clinic’s programs.”
About the CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award
The award honors legal departments and the organizations with which they partner in the provision of legal services to those in need. The awardees are departments, law firms, and public interest organizations that have demonstrated an impact in their community through their partnership project, shown substantial involvement in the project by in-house lawyers, made tangible steps toward sustaining the relationship among the partners, developed innovative substantive or structural approaches in support of the partnership’s effort, and addressed a critical legal need or assisted a particularly vulnerable community or target group.
About Corporate Pro Bono
Founded in 2000, Corporate Pro Bono is a global partnership project of Pro Bono Institute (PBI) and the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC). CPBO’s mission is to explore and identify 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. CPBO does so by supporting, enhancing, and transforming the pro bono efforts of in-house legal departments in the U.S. and around the world. Since its inception, CPBO has worked with hundreds of legal departments and ACC chapters.
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 our work with law firms, in-house corporate 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.
MassMutual is a leading mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policy owners. MassMutual offers a wide range of financial products and services, including life insurance, disability income insurance, long term care insurance, annuities, retirement plans, and other employee benefits. For more information, visit www.massmutual.com.
About the Hampden County Bar Association Legal Clinic
The Hampden County Bar Association (HCBA) is a volunteer organization of lawyers representing the legal profession, serving lawyers, the justice system and the public. The HCBA Legal Clinic is a programmatic arm of the HCBA which strives to continually improve access to justice for the underserved in Hampden County through volunteer efforts of legal professionals. The Clinic provides free essential legal and law-related services to area residents in need through a variety of pro bono initiatives and community-based programs. For more information, visit www.hcbar.org.