Pro Bono News

Why Partnerships Can Help Maximize In-House Pro Bono

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Why Partnerships Can Help Maximize In-House Pro Bono

"In-house lawyers at Chubb Ltd. were eager to tackle pro bono work but knew that going it alone could be a daunting challenge in terms of direction and logistics.

The solution? Partnering with one of its outside firms to collaborate on matters in which the corporate attorneys lacked the necessary expertise to help on their own.

Together with a legal services organization and Cozen O'Connor in Philadelphia, the insurance company about three years ago began representing individuals in cases including guardianship matters by grouping together an in-house lawyer with a law firm attorney, according to Kim Takacs, vice president of global information technology and operations risk and governance at Chubb.

“That gave the comfort of the in-house lawyer that they were going to have somebody by their side to help them through that case,” Takacs said, speaking Tuesday during a panel discussion at the 2019 Association of Corporate Counsel Annual Meeting in Phoenix.

It’s partnerships like Chubb’s that have helped legal departments and companies establish and grow successful pro bono programs to give back to their communities through free legal representation, according to Takacs and other panelists.

The panelists pointed out during the session that pro bono work is not only the right thing to do; it’s also an ethical obligation.

The American Bar Association created an aspirational goal for every lawyer — regardless of whether that attorney is in private practice, at a public law agency, in-house or working as an entrepreneur — to provide at least 50 hours of free legal assistance annually.

A corporate pro bono program allows lawyers to fulfill their ethical duty while also helping them hone their legal skills, especially on matters outside of their typical daily responsibilities.

For starters, a corporate legal department should consider the community that a program will serve, as well as the other staff members at the company who could participate, according to panelists. Finding the right mix of opportunities that draw on corporate lawyers’ skills and interests, as well as buy-in and participation from management, can encourage more participation, they added..."

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