There is a renaissance of effective leadership at the local level. Concerned and
committed lawyers are volunteering their time and actively participating to
improve their communities.
Founded in November 1997, the White Plains, N.Y.-based Pro Bono Partnership
provides free legal services to hundreds of nonprofit organizations in suburban
Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. The legal work is done by Partnership's
legal staff working with a large network of volunteer lawyers from many of the
area's leading corporations and law firms. Since it opened its doors five years
ago, the Partnership has engaged more than 500 lawyers to provide volunteer
legal services to more than 450 nonprofit organizations.
The Partnership's clients are nonprofit organizations located in the suburban
New York tri-state area. These groups work primarily in the areas of health and
human services, affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization.
Many nonprofits often operate with severe constraints such as poor physical
space, inadequate funding and frequent staff turnover. Limited resources force
them to make choices that can include ignoring basic legal issues that will
affect their organization's well being. Without proper legal guidance, the work
of nonprofits and the services they provide can suffer.
The Partnership and its volunteers take great pride in knowing that as a result
of our legal assistance program, these nonprofits face less "crisis
management" and direct more resources toward making a difference in the
quality of people's lives.
The Partnership relies on a unique source of volunteer legal services: the staff
of corporate counsel at major corporations in the tri-state area. Nonlitigation
business lawyers from private law firms also participate in the Partnership's
A sampling of the corporations that are particularly active when it comes to
working with the Partnership are: General Electric Co.; Honeywell; International
Paper; ITT Industries; Johnson & Johnson; Pitney Bowes; PepsiCo; Prudential
Financial; Schering Plough; Sony Electronics; Xerox Corp.
The Partnership provides advice on a broad range of business legal matters
Corporate structure and
Contracts and leases
Law of nonprofit and tax-exempt
Merger, bankruptcy and dissolution.
The benefits to the Partnership's clients are often immediate and far-reaching.
The same is true for the volunteers whose experience providing pro bono legal
advice gives balance and enrichment to their busy professional and personal
Most of the Partnership's matters are discreet, manageable and not subject to
time deadlines. These projects can take anywhere from 10 to 25 hours of
volunteer time over several months.
Those who volunteer do not work alone. Staff lawyers remain actively involved to
ensure that all matters are brought to a successful conclusion. The organization
maintains malpractice insurance that covers all volunteers.
So how can you find out more about this example of a successful pro bono
program? Contact Pro Bono Partnership, 237 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains, N.Y.
10605. Of course you also may phone us at 914/328-0674 or e-mail us at
Hobish is executive director of the Pro Bono Parthership in White Plains, N.Y.