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National Day of Service: Pro Bono Legal Help for Nonprofits Serving Vulnerable Populations


February 1, 2018 -- San Francisco -- This week, the National Day of Service of the National Network of Business Law Pro Bono Providers (National Network) announced the successful completion of its first ever National Day of Service. The National Network, a collaboration of pro bono providers that serve different geographic regions throughout the United States, came together in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day to provide free legal consultations to nonprofit organizations serving the homeless and other vulnerable populations around the country.

Between January 17 and 24, 2018, eight legal services providers with expertise in business and transactional services for nonprofit organizations each held a National Day of Service. Leveraging the legal talents of pro bono attorneys from law firms and corporations, National Network members helped community-based and other resource-constrained organizations improve their corporate governance practices to ensure legal compliance and promote best practices.  Nonprofit staff and board members learned about timely legal issues related to proper organizational documents, the board of directors in action, fiscal transparency, and regulatory compliance.  Each nonprofit organization received a customized assessment of its current governance structure and legal needs.

In the eight cities where the National Day of Service took place, representatives from close to 60 nonprofit organizations received advice from more than 100 attorneys and other legal volunteers who collectively donated 300 hours of pro bono service. The participating organizations are working hard year-round to better the lives of the homeless and other vulnerable populations.  Through the National Day of Service, they could focus on foundational legal issues that are important for carrying out their charitable missions in local neighborhoods, while benefitting from educational and assessment tools developed by National Network experts.

The National Network’s National Day of Service marks the first collaboration of business law pro bono providers to coordinate and offer governance consultations in different locations during the same week. The Network members that participated in this project are the Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) of the Bar Association of San Francisco, the Community Law Project of Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center, Lawyers Alliance for New York, Michigan Community Resources, Pro Bono Partnership of Ohio, Public Counsel, the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program, and Wayfind.

Several law firms, corporate legal departments, and other legal volunteers participated in the events, including Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, Credit Suisse, Detroit Land Bank, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, MetLife, the Michigan Bar Association Real Property Section Members, NY Life Insurance Co., Paul Hastings, LLP, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Thomson Reuters, and the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.



The National Network of Business Law Pro Bono Providers is dedicated to improving the quality of life in low-income and disadvantaged communities by expanding the availability and quality of pro bono business legal services for nonprofits that serve those communities. The Network partners with law firms and corporations to implement national responses to challenges faced by the nonprofit sector by delivering expert legal assistance and educational programs to nonprofits. Network members serve geographic regions throughout the United States, including major metropolitan and surrounding areas in California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington D.C., and Washington State. Members share a goal of making nonprofits more effective in serving their communities.

The Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) advances fairness and equality by providing pro bono legal services to low-income people and educational programs that foster diversity in the legal profession. JDC is the largest legal services providers in San Francisco. JDC’s primary purpose is the delivery of free legal services to low-income San Franciscans, as well as the non-profits that serve them. JDC delivers free legal services through its  Legal Services Programs  division, which consists of the Pro Bono Legal Services Program, Homeless Advocacy Project, and the Immigration Program. JDC provides enrichment programs to diverse youth and young adults through its Diversity Educational Programs.  JDC’s programs serve approximately 9,500 disadvantaged San Franciscans a year, with the overarching goal of assisting the community’s most vulnerable members with accessing the judicial system and strengthening their personal, professional, and economic security.

The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) is a nonprofit voluntary membership organization of attorneys, law students, and legal professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area. Founded in 1872, BASF enjoys the support of more than 7,500 individuals, law firms, corporate legal departments, and law schools. Through its board of directors, its committees, and its volunteer legal services programs and other community efforts, BASF has worked actively to promote and achieve equal justice for all and oppose discrimination in all its forms, including, but not limited to, discrimination based on race, sex, disability, and sexual orientation. BASF provides a collective voice for public advocacy, advances professional growth and education, and attempts to elevate the standards of integrity, honor, and respect in the practice of law.