January 7, 2020
How Legal Ops Can Advance In-House Pro Bono
By Alyssa Saunders, Director, Corporate Pro Bono at the Pro Bono Institute
Legal Ops professionals can use their management expertise to coordinate and optimize the legal department’s pro bono program, helping the program to reach new levels of efficiency, maturity, and impact. 
 
In-house pro bono programs have flourished in corporate legal departments of all sizes and across industries over the past 15 years. Here, we review:
  1. The business case for in-house pro bono;
  2. How the Legal Ops skillset benefits the pro bono program; and
  3. Effective tools to manage the pro bono program
The Value of the Pro Bono Program
Legal Ops professionals not involved in their departments’ pro bono programs – or whose departments do not have such programs – may be wondering: Why pro bono? Of course, delivering pro bono legal services benefits the communities in which the company’s employees live and work. Given the insufficient legal aid resources in the U.S., 86 percent of the civil legal needs of low-income Americans go unmet. Volunteer lawyers and legal department professionals can provide assistance to low-income individuals who would otherwise lack legal representation on critical issues, including education, immigration, housing, and economic development.
 
But there is also a business case for in-house pro bono programs. Pro bono benefits the legal department’s operations, including:
  • Recruitment and retention. Pro bono offers legal department attorneys and professionals an opportunity to gain leadership skills and obtain professional development. Pro bono also increases personal job satisfaction, increasing the likelihood that employees stay in the department. This cuts the costs of hiring and training new employees.
  • Improved employee morale, integration, and engagement. Teams of attorneys and staff who may not usually work together can staff pro bono matters, which accelerates team-building. Increasing employees’ engagement in the department through pro bono may improve employees’ overall productivity and performance. Participation in the program may drive motivation and loyalty to the company.
  • Integration with Corporate Social Responsibility. Companies engage in CSR projects to solve societal problems and improve sustainability. A CSR profile gives a company a marketplace advantage and has a positive impact on the community. Pro bono may leverage the legal department’s skillset in furtherance of the CSR mission.
Why Legal Ops Leaders Excel as Pro Bono Leaders
Increasingly, departments are recognizing that Legal Ops professionals
are well-suited to run the pro bono program or support its volunteer leaders. Legal Ops brings specialized expertise, including:
  • Change management. Departments that have not engaged in or prioritized pro bono, or are seeking to expand their efforts or increase participation, may need to effect change to achieve growth. Because Legal Ops work closely with the CLO, they can help set the tone from the top.
  • Knowledge management. Legal Ops can be the repository of information about pro bono opportunities, trainings, and partners, and compile resource guides for employees.
  • Technological expertise. Legal Ops can select tools that improve communications, data collection and analysis, and pro bono matter management.
  • Outside counsel hiring. Because Legal Ops manage outside counsel RFPs, they can hold outside counsel accountable for their pro bono efforts. 
Best Practices for Legal Ops in Pro Bono
There are many strategies for effective management of pro bono programs.  Best practices include:
  • Implement metrics tools. Measure the program’s impact by collecting data such as 1) hours of pro bono legal services delivered; 2) number of pro bono clients served, and 3) participation rates to benchmark the department against the industry standard set forth in the CPBO Challenge® initiative (participation of 50 percent of the legal departments’ employees annually).
  • Integrate pro bono with other initiatives. Integrating the pro bono program with CSR, D&I, community services, or a corporate foundation can improve efficiencies, find synergies, and increase the overall impact of these initiatives.  For example, Legal Ops can steer the pro bono program toward 1) serving communities or organizations that are already part of the company’s CSR portfolio; or 2) delivering legal services to support CSR objectives such as gender equality, poverty reduction, and sustainability.
  • Carefully select pro bono partners. Examine the quality of the training and resources that law firms and legal services organizations offer to the department. Search for opportunities that align with volunteers’ preferred subject matter interests and time commitment to boost participation.
  • Effectively use technology and communications tools. Identify technology solutions to circulate pro bono opportunities, track ongoing matters, recognize volunteers, and celebrate successes. For example, Legal Ops can produce internal communications that champion the pro bono program and its achievements to the department and the company. This benefits recruitment and demonstrates the value of the program.
These are just some of the ways that Legal Ops professionals can use their skills to help in-house pro bono programs achieve operational excellence, benefiting the community, the legal department, and the company overall. For more information, resources, and best practices for in-house pro bono programs, please see cpbo.org.  And tune in for the upcoming webcast on How Legal Ops Can Advances In-House Pro Bono, on February 25 at Noon - register here.
 
Alyssa Saunders is the Director of Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO), a global project of the Pro Bono Institute (PBI). CPBO is the premier resource for legal departments and Association of Corporate Counsel chapters interested in building or expanding their pro bono programs. Before joining CPBO, Saunders was an attorney in the litigation department at Cooley LLP, where she had an active pro bono practice. 
 
 
 
Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook


[ Return to Top ]

Calls to Action - Special Opportunities to Get In On
It's not too late!  Highlighting three opportunities you might want to get in on. 
 
LAST Call for Speakers – Xchange 2020 (April 19-21 in Chicago)
We're seeking great instructors for the annual legal operations conference at Xchange20 - experienced legal operations pros who can help others learn how to succeed through advanced, interactive, practical sessions. Look over the fantastic program and use this form to indicate the sessions to which you can contribute your know-how. If you’re selected as faculty, you will receive complimentary registration. We are already rolling on planning creative learning experiences, so fill out the Speaker Interest Form before the rosters fill up.
 
Legal Operations Maturity Benchmarking - Deadline Extended to 24 January
You didn't miss it after all! We want to make sure that we have solid peer comparisons across department / company sizes and industries, so we have extended the window of opportunity to participate in the ACC Legal Operations Maturity study. Join over 200 organizations that have entered their self-assessments, so you can take advantage of the interactive benchmarking tool we will offer to participants in partnership with Wolters Kluwer. Go HERE to participate by January 24th. 
 
ACC Value Champions Nominations - Due 31 January
If you or others in your legal department have implemented initiatives that have resulted in lower costs, improved spend predictability and/or better outcomes, put in a nomination to be named 2020 ACC Value Champions. It's a great way to gain recognition internally, exposure externally, reward your team, and provide ideas and inspiration to others seeking ways to improve value in legal services. Submit it HERE by the end of January (this one will not be extended). Questions? Email moynihan@acc.com.
 

 
Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook


[ Return to Top ]

Upcoming Events in January and February

View all upcoming ACC Legal Operations events here.  Note: All meetings are in Eastern Standard Time.
 
JANUARY
 
Change Model Presentation
Date: January 14 at 3:00 p.m. (Virtual)
Interest Group:  Process, Project & Knowledge Management

Using Active Learning for Document Review
Date: January 15 at 3:00 p.m. (Virtual)
Interest Group: Information Governance & Discovery
 
Date: January 15 from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Interest Group: New England Regional Group (In person)
Meeting will be at Coverys.    
 
Benchmarking
Date: January 16 at 1:00 p.m. (Virtual)
Interest Group: Metrics & Analytics

Alternative Service Providers
Date:  January 16 at 2:30 p.m. (Virtual)
Interest Group:  External Resource Management
 
Using OneNote
Date: January 28 at 3:00 p.m. (Virtual)
Interest Group: Tools & Technology and Internal Resource Management IGs
 
FEBRUARY
 
Change Management
Date: February 11 at 3:00 p.m. (Virtual)
Interest Group: Process, Project & Knowledge Management
How to implement Change Management. What works and doesn't work, roadblocks and best practices   
 
Contract Management Discussion and Demonstration
Date: February 13 at 11:00 a.m. (Virtual)
Interest Group: Internal Resource Mgmt and Tools & Tech

TBD
Date:  February 19 at 3:00 p.m. (Virtual)
Interest Group: Information Governance & eDiscovery

TBD
Date:  February 20 at 1:00 p.m.
Interest Group: Metrics & Analytics

How Legal Ops Can Advance In House Pro Bono
Date: February 25 at 12:00 p.m.
Register here
 
If you would like to participate, please email lawdepartmentops@acc.com to receive a calendar invitation - be sure to mention which event(s)! Note:  All meetings are in Eastern Standard Time.
Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook


[ Return to Top ]

Highlights from the ACC Legal Ops News & Announcements Page
The ACC Legal Ops News & Announcements tab tracks the best items to keep you well informed - following are some highlights.
 
The insurance industry is leading the pack when it comes to using this “Moneyball” approach to litigation and financial services, but other big companies' legal departments are also using data tools in their decision-making around litigation. Here's a glimpse inside the third-largest property and casualty insurer's legal operations. [ALM]
 
Jonathan Brayne, head of Allen & Overy's legal tech space called Fuse, believes that the legal market has reached a “tipping point” and in-house law departments need to shift toward becoming tech-led providers of legal and risk anticipation services to become an integral part of their organizations. [ALM]
 
Outside counsel guidelines (OCG) for legal matter billing are failing to be heard, or acted upon, by a notable proportion of law firms, a US survey has found. This matters, as it creates work by lawyers that may not get paid for, and it also results in unnecessarily larger bills for clients that could have been avoided. One way of avoiding this problem is to have better processes and tech solutions in place, the survey concluded. [Artificial Lawyer]

At the turn of the year/decade, there were many retrospective and prospective pieces.You can read a couple of our favorites here and here. Read a good one that we missed? Share it with your fellow members in the Forum.


Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook


[ Return to Top ]

How to Get More Involved in the ACC Legal Ops Community
There are many ways to get involved with and contribute to the ACC Legal Operations community and raise your professional profile. We would love to hear your ideas, learn and collaborate together!
  • Post in the Member Forum when you have questions, need referrals, or want to share opinions or articles/resources with your peers. You can also find recordings of Interest Groups calls in the Forum.
  • Participate in or start a Regional Group to build relationships through in-person interaction or offer to share your know-how in an Interest Group call.
  • Champion the Legal Operations function - the ACC Legal Operations LinkedIn Showcase page offers peers, in-house counsel and others in the legal ecosystem leading practices shared among our members. Show off the value of legal ops professionals - follow it to get updates, share and tweet articles (#ACCLegalOps).
  • Let us know if you would like to be featured in or author an article in the ACC Legal Ops Observer, the ACC Docket and the LinkedIn ACC Legal Ops showcase page (a package deal!).  
  • Be an Ambassador – many GCs are curious about the rise of legal ops, and we are communicating best practices at ACC Chapter events. We even have a “Legal Ops 101” deck you can use as a template. 

Email us to get involved - with offers to share your know-how, suggestions or any questions! LawDepartmentOps@ACC.com.

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook


[ Return to Top ]

Not a Member of ACC Legal Ops? Join Now!

Join now to get access to resources, participate in any of the Interest Groups, and use the online Member Forum for ad hoc benchmarking and referrals. The ACC Legal Ops section is active throughout the year, adding resources, conducting benchmarking studies, and providing webinars by legal operations professionals, for legal ops professionals. 

For more information, visit www.acc.com/legalops or contact LawDepartmentOps@acc.com

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook


[ Return to Top ]

Contributing Editor:

How Legal Ops Can Advance In-House Pro Bono
Calls to Action - Special Opportunities to Get In On
Upcoming Events in January and February
Highlights from the ACC Legal Ops News & Announcements Page
How to Get More Involved in the ACC Legal Ops Community
Not a Member of ACC Legal Ops? Join Now!
Our Mission
The Legal Ops Observer is devoted to reporting on issues important to the members of the ACC Legal Ops section— from the challenges they face to best practices that work, to how members effectively implement innovation within their individual companies and define the future of legal ops across the industry. Follow the ACC on Twitter at @ACCinhouse #ACCLegalOps.
ACC Legal Operations
Virtual Library
Search Back Issues
Print-Friendly Version
Forward to a Colleague
(c)Copyright < Association of Corporate Counsel < All rights reserved.

To contact us, send an email to LawDepartmentOps@acc.com

If you do not wish to receive further electronic communications from the Association of Corporate Counsel or ACC local Chapters, please send your request by email to unsubscribe@acc.com. You will be permanently removed from the ACC mailing list.
Legal Ops