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Building a Top-Flight Pro Bono Program the Verizon Way

by Employee ‎11-04-2011 10:11 AM - edited ‎11-18-2011 11:52 AM

kathy_brown_133x175.jpgI want to congratulate my colleagues in the Verizon Legal group for earning the 2011 Pro Bono Partner Award from the Pro Bono Institute last night. Not only did they put in a lot of hard work in a very short time to build a top-flight legal volunteer program, they built it in a way that’s particularly — Verizon-ish.

 

Let me explain.

 

We have a large legal group of more than 400 attorneys and 300 staffers dispersed over more than 20 states and several countries around the world. Instead of building a series of small, local programs and going it alone, our top attorneys, Randy Milch and John Frantz, did something different.

 

They built it much like we built our networks.

 

They picked a great partner — in this case, DLA Piper, a law firm with more than 4,000 lawyers and a lot of pro bono expertise. They deployed cutting-edge technology to spur staff collaboration, such as electronic meeting rooms, online training programs and webinars to train volunteers and coordinate case work between the two companies. They installed case approval and tracking systems, and put in place detailed policies and a steering committee to keep the program properly focused and on-track.

 

This approach — all this ground work and infrastructure building, this thoroughness and dedication to create something of lasting value — sits behind the scenes. But it’s necessary to keep the program going for the long haul. And it yields a much stronger program than either company could build alone.

 

And the results have been impressive. Here’s a sampling of recent achievements:

 

  • A contingent of 50 attorneys has begun working with the National Veterans Legal Services Program, serving veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder by helping them apply for a special federal benefits program that aids veterans injured while performing hazardous duty.

  • A joint team of attorneys helped immigrant victims of domestic violence apply for special visas that would allow them to remain in the U.S. without having to depend on their partners.

  • And I’m particularly proud of this one: Verizon and DLA Piper worked to change rules that made it difficult for corporate attorneys to do pro bono work in Virginia. As a result, the restrictions were lifted in April, clearing the path for our lawyers — and any others that follow — to do pro bono work in the state.

A program like this is a win for everyone: our communities get much needed legal services and our attorneys get to work on something they’re passionate about. I’m glad Randy and his team are getting the accolades they deserve.

 

legal-team-2011_640x426.jpg

Making a Difference for Our Customers & Communities
The Responsibility Blog — Learn how Verizon is using communications technology to connect people to the larger resources of the community—education, health care, accessibility and safety—in ways that make lives better. Visit the Verizon Communications Corporate Responsibility Report. We hope you will share your views with us.

To view vital speeches given by our authors, visit our speeches page.

       
About the Authors

Rose Kirk

V.P. of Global Corporate Citizenship and President of the Verizon Foundation

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Rose leads Verizon's global corporate responsibility initiatives and philanthropic strategy, which focuses on applying Verizon's technology to improve education, healthcare and energy management.

James Gowen

Chief Sustainability Officer/
V.P. of Services Operations

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James oversees Verizon’s supply chain, vehicle fleet, investment recovery, purchasing and materials management and sustainability initiatives.



Jack McArtney

Director of Corporate and Community Responsibility

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Jack promotes digital wellness and online safety. He works with parents, educators, service providers, application developers and industry leaders to foster responsible use of Verizon's mobile and broadband networks.

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