Public Interest Law Initiative

Getting Buy-In for Pro Bono: Highlights from the 2019 Corporate Pro Bono Roundtable

Posted on: April 25, 2019

On April 24th, representatives from Illinois corporate legal departments met at the offices of Hinshaw & Culbertson for PILI’s annual Corporate Pro Bono Roundtable. This year, the group discussed getting buy-in and resources from their companies to increase the impact of pro bono programs.

Leveraging Corporate-Wide Resources for Pro Bono

Angie Frye of Verizon Wireless led a discussion about leveraging corporate-wide resources. It can often be harder for in-house counsels to solicit resources for pro bono than law firms because they do not generate income for their company. Several corporations found success by partnering with law firms that can help provide a project with financial, technical and marketing support. Another strategy was to create opportunities for non-legal staff to get involved and assist with administrative tasks.

Getting into the Nuts and Bolts of Planning a Pro Bono Opportunity

Ryan Gammelgard of State Farm led a conversation about getting into the nuts and bolts of planning a pro bono opportunity. Ryan discussed the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee’s Legal Advice Fair and how important it is to partner with legal service agencies that can also help with CLEs and trainings. They discussed how corporations and hourly employees. Some corporations do pro bono work that crosses over with corporate-wide service opportunities as well.

Making the Case for the Business Value of Corporate Pro Bono Programs

Steve Fus of United Airlines led a discussion on how to make the case for the business value of corporate pro bono programs. They discussed how corporate pro bono programs provide good press for corporations and can help an organization stand out among their competitors. Several large corporations are working towards hiring a dedicated pro bono staff person, similar to many large law firms to help promote a culture of pro bono at the company.

Exploring Innovative Pro Bono Models

Lynette Lupia of Abbvie led a discussion on innovative pro bono programs, including Abvie’s partnership with Baker McKenzie to provide resources to street children. The group discussed other research projects that attorneys can assist with as well as court help desks and innovative partnerships to further pro bono.

During the roundtable, attendees asked to set up a listserv so the group could continue discussions throughout the year. If you are in-house counsel at your corporation and interested in joining the corporate pro bono listserv, send your contact information to Program Manager Brent Page.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2019 Corporate Pro Bono Roundtable. Register now for the Illinois Forum on Pro Bono on November 7th, which, which brings together law firm pro bono leaders as well as corporate, agency and law school pro bono leaders.

Learn more about the PILI’s Pro Bono Program »

Learn more about PILI’s Roundtables and Forums »

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