Media Release


PBI to Honor Discover and Wanji Walcott with the 2021 Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award

Pro Bono Institute is pleased to honor Discover Financial Services Legal Organization and Wanji Walcott, Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, and General Counsel with the 2021 Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award. This award is presented each year to an individual or organization that has provided exemplary pro bono service.

Discover Financial Services Legal Organization formalized its pro bono program in 2012, the same year that it became a signatory to the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® initiative. The program developed organically out of pro bono work that Legal Organization members were doing at the time. From its inception, the pro bono program has enjoyed significant engagement in pro bono from lawyers and legal staff and has been supported at all levels of leadership. Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, and General Counsel Wanji Walcott is both a participant in, and champion of, the program and has taken a visible role in supporting pro bono within the department and access to justice within the larger legal community.

“At Discover our business is built on helping people achieve a brighter financial future and investing in our communities,” said Wanji Walcott. “Our pro bono legal work supports our core values of volunteerism and ‘doing the right thing.’ It is an honor to be recognized by Pro Bono Institute, an organization that supports in-house legal departments and law firms alike so that we can continue to make justice equally accessible to all people.”

Discover Financial Services Legal Organization has a voluntary Pro Bono Program that encourages both attorneys and staff to provide volunteer legal services in their local communities, encouraging them to give back in a substantive and charitable way while creating opportunities for employees to work on new legal issues.

“Discover’s sustainable pro bono program, along with their forward-thinking leadership and work within their communities, make them an especially worthy recipient of the 2021 Zelon Award,” said Eve Runyon, PBI President and CEO. “We applaud them for their extraordinary commitment to expanding access to justice in work that engages their entire legal staff.”

Unable to host the PBI 2020 Annual Conference last March due to the coronavirus pandemic, PBI postponed the presentation of last year’s Chesterfield Smith Award and Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award. We are honored to combine the 2020 awards presentation with the 2021 awards on Thursday, March 25.

John J. Conroy, Jr.
Principal, Baker & McKenzie LLP
Read the John Conroy award profile.

American International Group, Inc. and
Lucy Fato, AIG’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel
Read the AIG award profile.

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.