Corporate legal departments are seeing a surge of interest in pro bono work among their attorneys. Pro bono leaders from corporate legal departments recently gathered at PILI’s Corporate Pro Bono Roundtable to discuss harnessing that energy and excitment, developing joint pro bono programs and ventures, coordinating pro bono across multiple locations and increasing attorney participation in pro bono work.
Harnessing newfound energy and excitement in pro bono work and legal advocacy
Pro bono coordinators discussed their approach to matching the types of issues a volunteer wants to work on to match them with the best possible pro bono project or agency. Short-term pro bono opportunities such as a clinic or a help desk make good introductions to pro bono work as well. Capturing that excitment can help build up a a pro bono practice.
Developing joint pro bono programs and ventures
Joint pro bono programs and ventures provide an opportunity for corporate pro bono programs to work with public interest law agencies and law firms. Partnering with outside counsel on a pro bono project can help to build relationships. Corporate legal departments can also volunteer at an agency’s established clinic instead of needing to develop a whole new project from scratch.
Coordinating pro bono across multiple locations
Collaboration on pro bono work between offices can help build teamwork and camaraderie. On particularly complicated cases, corporate legal departments can also partner with law firms. Attorneys can communicate using Skype and other technology, and departments can become closer across office locations through volunteering.
Increasing attorney participation in pro bono work
More attorneys are likely to participate in bite-size pro bono opportunities that can be done within a day or a few hours. Corporate legal departments can adopt a clinic day or help desk. Pro bono coordinators can use client and volunteer stories to inspire other attorneys to volunter. It is important to create a culture of service by including pro bono information in a new employee’s orientation and enlisting upper management to encourage pro bono participation.
Attendees received 1.5 hours of MCLE Professional Responsibility credit for attending this program.