Its pro bono program is still in its infancy, but Turner Broadcasting System's legal department has hit the ground running since it formed a formal pro bono committee last year.
"This is our second year of having an official committee; before that it was a committee of me, myself and I," says Kari Moeller, senior counsel.
Turner has expanded its pro bono efforts substantially, from a few scattered, small projects to a robust program that takes on larger projects. Most of Turner's previous pro bono projects came through its involvement with the Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta, an organization that matches small non-profits with law firms and businesses that can help meet their legal needs. Although Turner has started seeking out more independent projects, the company's five-year relationship with the Pro Bono Partnership has continued and grown.
"[The Pro Bono Partnership] remains one of our key resources for finding projects," Moeller says.
Bike Athens is one such project. The Pro Bono Partnership matched Turner with the non-profit, which advocates environmentally friendly transportation and land-use policies, after attorney Kevin Glidewell and two Turner paralegals expressed interest in working with sports-related organizations in need of trademark assistance. For several months now, Glidewell and his team have been working with Bike Athens to register the organization's trademarks in several states and with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Glidewell says the pairing has been a good fit. "A lot of [Bike Athens'] focus is on bikers and folks who are more active because they're engaged in some of the alternative transportation activities," he says.
In addition to the small projects coordinated in conjunction with the Pro Bono Partnership, Turner has made an effort to expand its pro bono reach to include larger, long-term projects. When the pro bono committee decided to find a pet project for the Turner legal department, they found a perfect match with VSA Arts of Georgia, the local branch of a national program that brings arts programming to low-income and
"We wanted to find a group we thought would be a really good fit for Turner for whom we could provide most, if not all, of the legal assistance that they needed," Moeller says.
Moeller says the pro bono committee is an offshoot of the corporate culture of volunteering at Turner, which hosts an annual all-company volunteer day and actively supports the Atlanta community through its Turner Voices Program, through which it provides monetary support to organizations that are voices in the community.
"I'm really excited that we are where we are with the pro bono committee, and we've got a lot more growing to do," says Moeller.