As part of the recent launch of its pro bono program, the legal department at Verizon Communications Inc., a Signatory to the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge℠, hosted a department-wide legal ethics program for its lawyers and staff on January 14, 2010.
Held at Verizon’s offices in Arlington, Virginia, the program was telecast to the legal department nationwide. Randal Milch, Verizon’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel, along with many members of his legal department attended the program onsite in Arlington.
John P. Frantz, Vice President and Associate General Counsel and Chair of Verizon’s pro bono program, opened the event by welcoming the legal department staff and thanking them for their enthusiastic support of Verizon’s pro bono program. Frantz also reviewed with the attendees the provisions of the Verizon pro bono policy, which had been drafted to address many of the ethical rules that the program highlighted.
Susan Hackett, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the Association of Corporate Counsel, Esther Lardent, President and CEO of the Pro Bono Institute, and Elizabeth Dewey, Pro Bono Partner at DLA Piper LLP (US) (a Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®) led the program and engaged the audience in an interactive discussion of many of the ethical rules that impact pro bono practice.
Lardent began the panel discussion by tackling those issues most legal departments face when representing clients in pro bono matters – the formation of the attorney-client relationship, the nature of attorney-client privilege, and potential conflicts of interest between and among the client, the lawyer, the legal department, and the company. Hackett then provided an overview of the different rules that define the nature and scope of in-house counsel practice within states and the impact of these rules on pro bono practice. As a resource, Corporate Pro Bono, a partnership project of the Association of Corporate Counsel and the Pro Bono Institute, provided the attendees a chart that describes multijurisdictional practice rules in all 50 states.
Verizon officially launched its pro bono program in November 2009. In partnership with DLA Piper, Verizon has focused its initial efforts in three areas: education, domestic violence, and veterans – offering volunteer opportunities to lawyers and non-lawyers who work in the Verizon legal department. To sponsor a pro bono ethics program at your legal department or ACC Chapter meeting, please contact Eve Runyon, CPBO director.