ProBono Partnership celebrates 10 years of service
Pro Bono Partnership, which provides free business legal assistance to nonprofit organizations in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, celebrated a decade of legal service to nonprofits on March 13, 2008, at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in New York City, at an event attended by nearly 300 attorneys, clients and funders.
Guest speaker for the evening was Ben W. Heineman, former Senior Vice President–General Counsel of General Electric, who is currently Distinguished Senior Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Program on the Legal Profession. Mr. Heineman spoke on “Pro Bono as a Pillar of Professional Development: Inside and Outside.”
In recognition of the important contribution made by participants in its pro bono program, the Partnership presented several “1st Decade Awards” at this anniversary celebration. General Electric Company and Toni Anne Nichels, Employment and HR Counsel, Xerox Corporation were presented with “Extraordinary Service Awards.” Honeywell International, Prudential Financial and Schering-Plough were recognized for distinguished service, as was Leonard D. Andrew, Retired Associate General Counsel of IBM; Lee Braem, Senior Corporate Counsel & Deputy Compliance Officer, Evonik Degussa, and NJCCA President; Susan Corcoran, Partner, Jackson Lewis; and Anahaita Kotval, Managing Director and General Counsel, RBS Greenwich Capital.
The Partnership was founded in 1997 by members of the corporate bar of Westchester County, NY, and Fairfield County, CT, to provide pro bono business legal services for nonprofit organizations serving the poor and disadvantaged and volunteer opportunities for in-house counsel. “Responding to the call to provide free legal assistance to local nonprofits, many leaders in the corporate legal community, quickly embraced the Partnership’s mission and encouraged their legal staffs to take on pro bono projects,” says Executive Director Rick Hobish. “Soon we also had the support of law firms, and our initial success was so impressive that, in 2000, we opened a second office in New Jersey.” Since 1997, 1,400 attorneys have volunteered through the Partnership.
The Partnership addresses as many as 500 business legal matters for nonprofits each year, provides a resource hotline for brief legal questions, and offers an ongoing series of workshops on important legal topics for nonprofits. The Partnership was instrumental in creating the Hartford, CT, Nonprofit Pro Bono Initiative, which merged with the Partnership in February, and the Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta.
The Pro Bono Partnership has received many awards, including the American Corporate Counsel Association Corporate Pro Bono Award for outstanding commitment to the provision of pro bono service; and the American Bar Association/West Group Public Service Award for the most outstanding bar association program in the country providing direct service to the public. Most recently, the Partnership was inducted into the 2007 Thirteen/WNET New York and WLIW21 Community Hall of Fame.
The celebration on March 13th was sponsored by Citi; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP; Goldman Sachs Group; JPMorgan Chase & Co.; and the host of the event, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.
Visit www.probonopartnership.org for more information on the Partnership.