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Highlights from the 2016 Corporate Pro Bono Roundtable

Web Event

Yesterday, pro bono leaders from area corporate legal departments came together for PILI’s annual Corporate Pro Bono Roundtable.

Some participants represented well-established pro bono programs, while others were just getting their programs off the ground. We had an insightful exchange of ideas about challenges inherent to creating and growing corporate pro bono programs and how to overcome them.

Here are some of the discussion topics and favorite take aways from the roundtable conversation:

Many smaller agencies have engaging pro bono opportunities that are of interest to your volunteers and meet real needs in the community. Even if they can’t fully support your pro bono efforts, don’t rule them out as a pro bono partner.

Take away: Think creatively about how to supplement the agency’s support through other possible partners such as law schools or law firms. With some up front work, you might even be able to develop a template for a replicable pro bono opportunity, making it easier to work with them again in the future.

Recognizing your volunteers’ pro bono efforts has a dual effect: it thanks them for their past efforts and encourages them to do future pro bono work; and it also can serve to inspire and encourage others to do pro bono work in the future.

Take away: Consider a variety of ways to inspire and celebrate pro bono, like communications from, participation by and recognition from the general counsel, or highlighting pro bono volunteers and projects in internal and external newsletters, or holding regular recognition events.

Half-day and discrete pro bono opportunities are highly desirable for a number of reasons. There are several such options available through Chicago’s legal aid programs.

Take away: Be sure to consider ahead of time how you will structure the opportunity to meet your program’s goals, and how you will define the parameters of the volunteers’ involvement. Work with the agency to determine if and when training needs to happen, who will be responsible for needed advance preparation, and how to balance the number of clients and the number of volunteers.

Whether you are building or reinvigorating your pro bono program, you don’t need to do it alone. There are a number of corporations in Illinois with pro bono programs at all different points in their development that would be happy to assist you.

Take away: Reach out! PILI is both a hub and a clearinghouse for pro bono programming and resources. We can also set up technical consultations to assist you in maximizing your pro bono program.

We are pleased to share the resources from the Corporate Pro Bono Roundtable here:

Find more resources for corporations here »

Thank you to all those who participated, to our hosts at United Airlines, and to our discussion leaders Theresa Conduah from United, Traci Braun from Exelon and Theresa Duckett from BMO Financial.

Interested in joining this discussion? PILI holds this and other Pro Bono Roundtable events every year. Learn more about our Pro Bono Roundtables and Forums »

You can also join us for our Illinois Forum on Pro Bono in Chicago on September 21st. More details are coming soon.

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