Chicago-based Exelon, one of the nation's leading competitive energy providers, will receive the American Bar Association's Pro Bono Publico Award for outstanding service. This is the first time that the ABA has honored an in-house legal department with the award since 2003.
Exelon's legal department initiated an official pro bono program in 2002 to encourage all employees - not just attorneys - to participate in charitable activities that provide access to legal services for those who cannot afford it as part of the company's commitment to the community.
The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service will honor Exelon and four other award recipients at the Pro Bono Publico Awards Assembly Luncheon from noon to 1:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at the Moscone Center West during the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. ABA President Laurel G. Bellows will host the awards ceremony.
"Lawyers lead our nation every day in the quest for justice and equality," Bellows said. "These award recipients fulfill this mission through their dedication to pro bono work. They are outstanding examples of how lawyers can have meaningful and lasting effects on their communities."
The Pro Bono Publico Awards honor individuals or organizations in the legal community that enhance the human dignity of others by improving or delivering volunteer legal services to the poor or disadvantaged.
Exelon serves as a model for other companies through its pro bono policies, including establishing a department goal for pro bono service hours, evaluating outside counsel based in part on their pro bono activities and encouraging non-lawyer employees to participate in pro bono projects.
"We recognize that Exelon can only be as successful as the communities it serves, and there is significant need within those communities for better access to legal services," said Darryl Bradford, general counsel of Exelon. "That's why we encourage our attorneys, non-lawyer employees and outside counsel alike to support pro bono projects that improve quality of life for our customers and communities."
The company's employees have engaged in pro bono projects to help the homeless obtain birth certificates; aid refugees in obtaining lawful permanent resident status; provide wills, living wills and powers of attorney to thousands of first responders; carry out legal work on behalf of nonprofits; teach students about the legal profession; represent minors in guardianship matters; and assist the elderly with end-of-life documents.
Exelon attorneys have successfully litigated pro bono cases, including partnering with law firm Sidley Austin LLP to represent an Alabama death row inmate.
The company also sponsors the Chicago Bar Association's annual Outstanding Corporate Counsel Award, which honors the pro bono work of an in-house attorney and provides a $2,500 grant to the legal aid organization of the recipient's choice.
Other 2013 Pro Bono Publico Award recipients are lawyers Jeffrey Trachtman of New York, Paritica Less of Las Vegas and Bruce B. Blackwell of Orlando, Fla., and law firm Leonard, Street and Deinard. More information on the Pro Bono Publico Awards and the 2013 recipients is available here.
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