Increasing Engagement in Pro Bono: Highlights from the 2020 Corporate Pro Bono Roundtable

On February 26th, representatives from Illinois corporate legal departments met at the offices of Charles River Associates for PILI’s annual Corporate Pro Bono Roundtable. This year, the group discussed increasing engagement in corporate pro bono programs.

Overview of Illinois Free Legal Answers

PILI staff provided an overview of Illinois Free Legal Answers and Brian A. Abamont of State Farm talked about their experience hosting Free Legal Answers Clinics. He said they hosted monthly, hour-long clinics where attorneys got together to answer questions. Other attendees discussed their experience with the program, including AT&T who just hosted their first clinic. Other attendees asked questions and discussed how the program could foster community by partnering together to answer questions. Attorneys could do in-house clinics and partner with their colleagues or host a joint clinic with another corporation or law firm and answer questions together. Learn more about hosting a Free Legal Answers clinic here.

Meaningfully Engaging Legal Support Staff in Pro Bono

Ken Johnston of AT&T Services, Inc. talked about his company’s efforts to make sure there was always meaningful volunteer opportunities for everyone at pro bono clinics. They discussed how volunteers didn’t need to be attorneys to do intake or they might be able to serve as translators. They said to make sure support staff is also serving on  pro bono committees and include them in recognition efforts for their work as well.

Tracking and Utilizing Data to Boost Your Pro Bono Program

Kimberly Barton of JPMorgan Chase & Company discussed an internal survey they did to find out what people wanted to work on for pro bono projects. They asked what types of pro bono projects attorneys were working on outside of work to see where they might be able to tap in and do what attorneys were really interested in. Allstate  discussed how they have been using the same internal tracking system for pro bono clients as paid clients to better track pro bono hours. He said this made it easier when pulling data for recognition and reporting.

Collaborating With Each Other to Enhance Pro Bono

Tracy Hannan from Exelon discussed how they had partnered on some clinics with other corporations. AT&T shared that it was through Exelon’s help that they launched their Wills for Heroes clinics. Kraft said they were hosting several CLEs in the near future about pro bono opportunities and were inviting other corporations. The group also discussed the listserv PILI created lastyear as a way to share ideas and create collaboration opportunities. Please send your contact information to Brent Page via email to be added to this Listserv.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the  Corporate Pro Bono Roundtable. Check back soon to register for the Illinois Forum on Pro Bono, which brings together law firm pro bono leaders as well as corporate, agency and law school pro bono leaders.

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Posted in 2020 Roundtables.

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