May 2, 2019 marked the first-ever Financial Institution Pro Bono Day (FIPBD), which was organized by PBI in partnership with 14 financial institutions in 20 cities across the country. More than 700 volunteers from 21 financial institutions participated in 47 pro bono events that addressed issues ranging from homelessness, to transgender name changes, to life planning for veterans, to green card assistance for domestic violence survivors, and many more. The barriers to access to justice can be nearly insurmountable for many underserved communities. PBI’s FIPBD showcased legal departments of financial institutions giving back through pro bono legal services to address critical legal needs.
List of Events
Volunteers from Bank of America**, BNY Mellon**, and Citigroup** put their corporate skills to work and participated in two transactional pro bono events in Boston: the Written Information Security Program (WISP) Clinic for nonprofit organizations and a Small Business Legal Clinic for entrepreneurs at various stages of their business.
Volunteers from Bank of America and Wells Fargo joined forces at a Mega-Naturalization Workshop held in Charlotte. The workshop provided lawyers and other professionals an opportunity to assist low-income permanent residents become citizens.
Volunteers from Discover Financial Services** and JPMorgan Chase staffed two events in Chicago: an Elder Estate Planning Clinic that assisted seniors and disabled individuals with the execution of POAs and living will documents, and a veterans’ financial empowerment workshop, called Cleaning Up Your Credit, that provided veterans with financial literacy training and brief, individualized legal services.
Volunteers from JPMorgan Chase tackled a variety of poverty law issues for pro bono clients in Columbus. At a Legal Aid Day of Service, volunteers reviewed cases involving veterans’ benefits and clients seeking relief from untenable housing conditions, among others issues.
Volunteers from Bank of America, Capital One**, Citigroup, and JPMorgan Chase rolled up their sleeves and staffed two pro bono events in Dallas. Volunteers conducted initial client interviews to assist in drafting wills, POAs, and advance directives at a clinic for low-income clients. Volunteers also conducted prescreening interviews and provided advice on a variety of civil legal needs at another clinic.
Volunteers from Bank of America, Capital One, Citigroup, Freddie Mac**, JPMorgan Chase, PNC Bank**, and SECU teamed up to staff five pro bono events in Washington, D.C., and Arlington and McLean, Virginia. The events included assisting clients with settlement agreements in uncontested divorce matters, advising small business owners on corporate matters, providing counseling with identity documents for transgender individuals, working with young adults to address identity thief issues, and assisting immigrant women and children fleeing violence.
Dozens of volunteers from financial institutions across the U.S. dialed-in to an event organized in Kansas City by PNC Bank on behalf of incarcerated individuals. While at their desks, volunteers were trained on reviewing trial transcripts, police reports, lab reports, appellate briefs and other documents to determine if a path exists to establish and advocate for innocence on behalf of an inmate. Experienced volunteers were assigned to ongoing screening of matters.
Volunteers from Capital One participated in a Drop-In Clinic on Family Law in Las Vegas to address a variety of family law issues for those unable to afford legal representation. On average, the clinic serves 50 low-income clients in a day.
Volunteers from Bank of America and BNY Mellon came together in Los Angeles to staff a Legal Name and Gender Marker Change Clinic. The clinic assists transgender individuals secure documents that accurately reflect their identities.
Volunteers from American Express, Bank of America, Barclays**, BNY Mellon, Capital One, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo combined forces to staff 17 pro bono events in New York that covered a range of topics.
The events included:
- Doing Business Online Clinic for Small Businesses
- Corporate Governance Clinic for Nonprofits
- Legal Clinic for Neighborhood Entrepreneurs
- Immigration Screening Clinic for Minors
- Naturalization Clinic for Low-Income Individuals
- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Clinic
- Green Card Clinic for Domestic Violence Survivors
- Citizenship Clinic
- Transgender Name Change Clinic
- Life Planning Clinic for LGBTQ+ Veterans
- Financial Literacy Program for High School Students
- Legal Clinic for the Homeless
- Rent Reduction Clinic for Public Housing Residents
- Wage Theft Clinic for Immigrant and Low-Wage Workers
- Family Court Day of Service for Pro Se Litigants.
Volunteers from Capital One and IberiaBank staffed two sessions of a Divorce Clinic for low-income individuals in the six parishes around New Orleans. During the clinic, volunteers edited and reviewed uncontested divorce pleadings for clients in need.
Volunteers from BNY Mellon, JPMorgan Chase, Lincoln Financial, PNC Bank, TD Bank, and Vanguard participated in three events hosted in Philadelphia. At the Estate Planning Wills Clinic, volunteers assisted seniors with wills, health care directives, and POAs. At the Refugee Adjustment of Status Clinic, volunteers assisted refugee families to complete paperwork for green card applications. At the Veterans Clean Slate Clinic, volunteers performed an initial screen analysis for people across Pennsylvania that can apply to seal their criminal record under recent Clean Slate legislation.
Volunteers from BNY Mellon and PNC Bank joined in support of four projects in Pittsburgh. At the Veterans Military Discharge Upgrade Clinic, volunteers met with veterans with other than honorable discharges related to PTSD, traumatic brain injury, or similar health condition to provide representation. At the Education Rights Workshop, volunteers helped draft, review, and revise education rights factsheets for students, parents, and caregivers. At the Name Change Project Training, volunteers were trained to provide pro bono services to transgender clients seeking name changes. Volunteers also organized a project to revise and update a handbook and employment policies for a nonprofit organization that provides medical service dogs to veterans and first responders that suffer from PTSD.
Volunteers from Capital One’s Plano office joined efforts to consult with local nonprofits on digital and social media.
Capital One volunteers in Richmond hosted two events. At CPBO’s Clinic in a Box® program, volunteers provided advice to nonprofit organizations on employment issues. At the CancerLINC Clinic, volunteers drafted life planning documents, such as wills, POAs, and advance medical directives, for cancer patients.
Volunteers from Citigroup joined to support the Neighborhood Vacancy Initiative in St. Louis, which helps local residents and community-based organizations reduce the problem of vacant, abandoned, and blighted housing in the city.
Volunteers from Bank of America, Capital One, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo joined forces in San Francisco at a Nonprofit Legal Audit Clinic to conduct a legal assessment of local nonprofit organizations in need of advice.
Volunteers from Citigroup and Raymond James met in Tampa to be trained on the role of a Guardian ad Litem as well as receive an overview of the dependency system that manages children.
Thank you to all of the partners that helped make Financial Institution Pro Bono Day a success!
*†Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner
†Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
Center for Disability and Elder Law (CDEL)
City Bar Justice Center
*Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
Community Legal Services
CUNY Citizenship Now!
Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program
Davis Polk & Wardell
D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center
Education Law Center
Equal Justice Works
Federal Trade Commission
The Greater Richmond Bar Foundation
Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs
Justice & Diversity Center
Legal Assistance Foundation (LAF)
Latin American Coalition
Lawyers Alliance for New York
Lawyers for Civil Rights
Legal Aid Society
Legal Aid Society of Columbus
Legal Services of Eastern Missouri
Legal Services NYC
Legal Services of Northern Virginia
Make the Road New York
Midwest Innocence Project
*†Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
Nationalities Service Center
The Pro Bono Project
Safe Passage Project
Sanctuary for Families
*†Shearman & Sterling
*Simpson Thacher & Bartlett
*†Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
Small Business Legal Clinic
Southeastern Ohio Legal Services
Start Small Think Big
Sullivan & Cromwell
Tahirih Justice Center
Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund
Volunteers of Legal Service (VOLS)
* denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® signatory
** denotes a Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatory
† denotes a Law Firm Pro Bono Project® member