The National Law Journal recently recognized Freddie Mac with the Washington In-House Legal Department of the Year award for Pro Bono. Six other Washington, D.C. area in-house legal teams were also recognized for their leadership across all facets of law.
Providing a menu of options, along with the right resources and support, are the keys to managing a successful pro bono program. Freddie Mac brings these elements together by partnering with local organizations and encouraging employees to participate in the program — employees may spend 50 hours of company time annually on approved pro bono projects.
"At Freddie Mac, support for pro bono comes from the top," said Alicia Myara, senior vice president and principal deputy general counsel, who chairs the pro bono working group. "Division management is highly supportive of encouraging our employees — lawyer and non-lawyer alike — to do pro bono."
Freddie Mac's pro bono program dates back to 1991 when the organization first joined hands with Legal Services of Northern Virginia (LSNV). In 2011, Freddie Mac and LSNV joined forces with the Washington Metropolitan Area Corporate Counsel Association (WMACCA) to pilot consumer law clinics. The program was formally launched in 2012 and provides volunteer training and support for clients through quarterly clinics hosted by WMACCA members, including Freddie Mac.
Pro Bono: Keys to Success
1. One Size Does Not Fit All. Attorneys have varied interests — some like discrete limited representation, while others may prefer more extended, in-depth representation. Providing a menu of pro bono opportunities helps to increase participation.
2. Overcoming the Fear Factor. The two biggest impediments to pro bono are lack of time and expertise. Providing advance training and access to experts, scheduling convenient locations, and partnering less experienced volunteers with more experienced volunteers are ways to overcome these obstacles.
3. Make It Meaningful. The biggest reason that attorneys do pro bono is because it is a rewarding experience to educate and help those in need.
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