Joan Fencik and Bob Glaves
Corporate legal departments, like their law firm and business partner counterparts, actively want to be engaged in their communities and help out where they can. But unlike law firms that are centered on the business of law and not supporting a greater enterprise, legal departments are often at a disadvantage when it comes to getting involved in pro bono work because they’re not in the trenches, so to speak.
To this end, The Chicago Bar Foundation (CBF) earlier this year formally kicked off its Corporate Leadership Circle, which is intended to maximize the impact that corporate legal departments can have in the CBF’s efforts to close the gap in access to justice. This includes participating in pro bono programs and providing support for legal aid and related initiatives.
The Corporate Leadership Circle’s Statement of Principles commits members to four specific ideals: to adopt written pro bono practices and policies to support pro bono work; provide financial support for pro bono, legal aid and access to justice initiatives in the Chicago area; actively encourage their outside counsel to adopt sound pro bono policies; and embrace additional policies to aid with the first point when possible and practical, such as supporting broad-based advocacy efforts at the federal or state levels.