RWUPro Bono Collaborative
Joining Rhode Island law firms, law students, and community organizations to provide pro bono legal assistance within the community.

Fall 2010
In This Issue
News and Updates
Get Involved
Article Headline
Current Projects
Donate to the PBC
Participating PBC Law Firms

Special Thanks
We would like to thank
Mark S. Mandell, Esq.
for his generous challenge pledge to the Roger Williams School of Law in support of the Pro Bono Collaborative.

Quick Links

News and Updates

Nixon Peabody LLP Provides Pro Bono Legal Assistance to Homeless Veterans at Operation Stand Down
Operation Stand Down
For the second year,  on Friday September 18, Armando Batastini, Esq. from the law firm of Nixon Peabody LLP, provided pro bono legal advice and counsel to veterans at the 17th Annual Operation Stand Down event in Cumberland. Since 2009, Nixon Peabody LLP has been providing direct representation to clients referred to the PBC Expungement Project by the RI Coalition for the Homeless and local veterans groups.

Nixon Peabody LLC Teams Up with Looking Upwards
In August, Neal McNamara, Esq., of Nixon Peabody LLC agreed to represent several individual clients of Looking Upwards, a community organization in Middletown RI that serves adults and children with disabilities, in identifying legal strategies that will best protect the individuals' interests in medical emergencies. 

Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP Attorneys Continue Asssisting CFSRI Families 
Attorneys Nancy H. Van der Veer,  Zoe Cooper,  Eric B. Mack and Matthew Murphy continued meeting with families from CFSRI over the summer to assist them with their housing law issues. EAPD has been working with CFSRI for four years. In the past year, the law firm has provided housing clinics twice a month to CFSRI families -- in Providence and Central Falls.

Scott Harshbarger To Speak During Pro Bono Celebration Week
On October 28th, Scott Harshbarger will be speaking at RWU School of Law in Bristol about his public service career.
His lengthy record in public service is built on roles as a public defender, civil rights attorney, district attorney and Massachusetts Attorney General. During his tenure as Attorney General, he led major initiatives against white collar crime, public corruption, insurance and Medicare fraud, environmental abuses and high-tech crime. He also served for three years as president and CEO of Common Cause, the lobby and government watchdog group. Today, his public service career continues through his role as Senior Counsel and Pro Bono Chair in the Boston office of Proskauer Rose LLP. More information...
The PBC Welcomes Seven New Law Students

This  fall, seven new students will begin working on PBC Projects. New and returning students met on campus on September 14th to discuss their projects and the importance of using their PBC experience as an opportunity to obsevre how private law firm attorneys incorporate pro bono into their professional lives. New students include: Amy Goins (Street Sights Project and McAuley House Expungement Project); Angie Depetrillo-Bucci (Meeting Street School Project), Dylan Griffis (Bradley Hospital Guardianship Project), Kelly Nardone-Rafferty (Women's Center Project), Monica Burbelo (Women's Center Project), Jamie Johnson (Looking Upwards Project) and Amanda DelFarno (RI DLC Special Education Project).
PBC Student Meeting 9/14/2010: from left to right Dylan Griffis, Monica Burelo, Kelly Nardone Rafferty and Angie Depetrillo-Bucci

Get Involved: Projects Needing Law Firms

1.  Lead  Pipe  Action  Project  
Would  you  like  to  provide  legal  assistance  to  a  local  environmental  advocacy coalition  trying  to   ensure  that  any  lead  pipe  replacement  in  our  community  doesn't  increase  the  risk  of  lead  poisoning  but   rather  fulfills  its  intended  purpose  of  eliminating  lead  exposure  caused  by  our  water  supply  pipes?    The   Lead  Pipe  Initiative  Coalition-­--­-  a  group  made  up  of  representatives  from  the  Childhood  Lead  Action   Coalition,  Clean  Water  Action,  the  Mount  Hope  Neighborhood  Association,  Mount  Hope  Community   Baptist  Church  and  concerned  residents-­--­-  are  in  need  of  pro  bono  legal  counsel  to  provide  the  group   with  advice  and  counsel  and  potential  litigation  strategies  to  address  a  major  health  concern  that   involves  the  partial  replacement  of  lead  water  line  pipes  within  the    Providence  Water  Supply  Board's   jurisdiction. 
2.  Advice  &  Counsel  for  Tenants  in  Foreclosed  Properties  Project    
Partnering  with  the  RI  Bank-­-Owned  Tenants  and  Homeowners  Association  to  provide  advice   and  counsel  to  tenants  of  properties  that  have  recently  been  foreclosed.    Twice  a  month,  on  Thursday   late  afternoons,  attorneys  and  law  students  would  attend  Association  meetings  to  answer  members'   legal  questions  and  provide  advice  and  counsel.    Legal  problems  could  range  from  inability  to  recoup  a   security  deposit  or  rent  paid  after  a  foreclosure  sale  to  utility  shut-­-offs  during  foreclosure  sale.     Attorneys'  role  would  be  to  inform  the  tenant  of  their  legal  entitlements  and  provide  advice  on  how  to   self-­-advocate.    Attorneys  could  also  negotiate  to  permit  the  tenant  to  stay  in  the  home  or  get  adequate   time  and  money  to  move.    
Training  will  be  provided  to  all  attorneys  by  a  Rhode  Island  Legal  Services  Staff Attorney.  

3.  Homeless  Disability  Project  with  SOAR  (great  for  aspiring  litigators!)  
The  project  will  partner  SOAR  ("SSI/SSDI  Outreach  Access  and  Recovery")  and  the  RI  Disability   Law  Center  with  a  law  firm  and  RWU  law  students  in  handling  pro  bono  Supplemental  Security   Insurance  (SSI)  Administrative  Law  Judge  hearings.  This  PBC  project  will  involve  helping  homeless   individuals  with  mental  illness  obtain  SSI  benefits  they  desperately  need  and  are  entitled  to  but  have   not  been  able  to  obtain.      The  staff  at  SOAR  currently  assists  individuals  in  their  initial  applications  and   prepares  all  the  necessary  medical  documentation.    However,  in  cases  where  the  benefits  are  denied,  a   hearing  may  be  requested.    PBC  project  attorneys  would  assist  at  this  stage  of  the  process  by  filing  a   Request  for  Hearing,  and  then  preparing  for  and  providing  representation  at  the  hearing.    It  usually   takes  about  seven  months  from  when  a  Request  for  Hearing  is  made  until  the  hearing.   Training  will  be  provided  to  all  attorney  by  the  RI  Disability  Law  Center.      

4.  Gorham  Environmental  Protection  Project  
A  coalition  of  concerned  citizens  of  the  Reservoir  Triangle  neighborhood  in  South  Providence   are  seeking  legal  advice  and  counsel  regarding  strategies  to  ensure  that  the  City  of  Providence  protects   the  public  from  the  contaminated  land  (a  "brownfield")  between  Adelaide  Avenue  and  the  Mashapaug   Pond-­--­-  the  former  site  of  the  Gorham  Silver  manufacturing  facility  ("Gorham").    Children  and  young   adults  are  attracted  to  this  large  outdoor  space  which  poses  significant  health  risks.  During  the  past   year,  residents  began  taking  action  in  response  to  the  danger  posed  by  the  Gorham  brownfield.   Concerned  residents,  with  the  assistance  of  the  Environmental  Justice  League  of  Rhode  Island,  have   secured  commitments  from  the  City  to  ensure  proper  maintenance  of  the  fences  and  replacement  of   warning  signs  while  cleanup  actions  continue  on  the  site.  However,  the  resident  group  has  identified   several  issues  about  which  they  need  legal  advice  and  counsel.  The  PBC  can  provide  any  interested  law   firm  with  a  full  background  briefing  regarding  this  project  and  the  legal  needs  identified  by  the  group.  

5. Derrick Cazard Foundation (Non-Profit Incorporation/Business) Project
 The Derrick Cazard Foundation was established to provided low income children with resources to participate in activities to enhance their development and promote positive community experiences. The organiztion has received 501(c)(3) status but is in need of legal counsel to assist in board selection and creating a formal business plan.
If your law firm is interested in any of these projects or if you would like additional information, please call Suzy Harrington-Steppen, PBC Project Coordinator, at 401.254.4559 or
Seven Ways Your Firm Can Create and Maintain an Enduring Pro Bono Culture
This article is a shortened version of an article entitled "Ten Things Law Firms Can Do To Create and Maintain an Enduring Culture of Pro Bono," used with permission from its authors, Martin J. Bishop and Ellen M. Wheeler.  The original article was first published in the January/February 2010 issue of The Bencher, a bi-monthly publication of the American Inns of Court.  
1. Establish a Written Policy.
Having a written policy serves two fundamental purposes. First, like any set of rules, a written pro bono policy provides clarity for the lawyers who serve under it. Second, an express policy demonstrates a law firm's commitment to the provision of pro bono services.  Policies can be as simple or as complex as circumstances at the firm warrant. Either way, there are a variety of resources available on the internet, including model policies that provide a good starting point for the adoption of a written pro bono policy.
2. Provide Billable Credit.

Offering billable credit for pro bono work will enable attorneys, particularly those whose compensation is linked to billable hours, to take on pro bono work without worrying that they will be penalized.
3. Offer an Abundance of Choice.

Offering a wide variety of pro bono projects is crucial to increasing the involvement of all attorneys. One challenge that many firms face is finding ways to involve non-litigators in pro bono work. Another challenge is overcoming attorney fears that a case will become too involved or take too much time. Offering a wide variety of pro bono work can help to overcome both these challenges.  Offer short term, discrete projects for those attorneys that are reluctant to take on bigger, more amorphous projects.
4. Involve Firm Leadership.
It almost goes without saying that a firm cannot maintain a culture of pro bono unless pro bono work is supported and encouraged by the leaders of the firm. Regardless of a firm's official procedures and policies, junior attorneys will be reluctant to take on pro bono work if the senior attorneys with whom they work and on whom they are dependent for their work are not supportive. One of the best ways for management to convince other attorneys that the firm's commitment to pro bono work is real, is to engage in pro bono work themselves.
5. Engage in Constant Communication.
Law firms need to regularly and repeatedly provide their lawyers with the opportunity to engage in pro bono work by communicating with their attorneys about pro bono project availability and lawyers' capacity to serve on pro bono matters.  Steady communication endorses the concepts of firm and leadership commitment to pro bono and otherwise assists in fostering a firm's pro bono culture.
6. Routinely Acknowledge Pro Bono Efforts and Successes.
Frequently, routinely, and publicly acknowledge the efforts and successes of attorneys engaging in pro bono work.  A firm can and should acknowledge and reward the efforts of attorneys working on pro bono matters by simply "piggybacking" on methods it already uses to acknowledge the efforts of its attorneys on behalf of paying clients.
7. Make It Easy.
Everything about your pro bono program should be easy. Make it easy for your lawyers to obtain, process, and staff new matters. Make it easy for attorneys to get credit for what they do, be it billable credit or accolades from leadership. Make it easy to get relevant training, either by securing free training through local pro bono service providers, or by paying for outside training. Simply put, the easier things appear to be with your pro bono program, the more likely lawyers will be encouraged to get involved. 

PBC's Current Pro Bono Projects:

Special Education Advocacy Projects:

-Meeting Street School, Casey Family Services and Partridge Snow & Hahn LLP

-RI Disability Law Center and Hinckley Allen & Snyder LLP


Housing Rights Clinic Projects:

-Children's Friend & Service RI and Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP

-Women's Center RI and Hinckley Allen & Snyder LLP


Expungement Project

-Family Life Center, RI Coalition for the Homeless, Operation Stand Down and Nixon Peabody LLP

-McAuley House and Ratcliffe Harten Burke & Galamaga LLP


Nonprofit Incorporation Projects:

-Grand Divas: Casey Family Services' kinship care group and Partridge Snow & Hahn LLP;

-Rhode Island Liberian Foundation for Education and Cultural Initiatives (RILFECI) and Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP; and

-RI Dream Center and Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West LLC


Guardianship Projects

-Bradley Hospital's Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities and Taylor Duane Barton & Gilman LLP

-Looking Upwards and Nixon Peabody LLP

Foreclosure Scam Prevention Project
-Housing Network RI and Motley Rice LLC

Monthly Legal Column in Street Sights Newspaper Project:
(serving homeless community and advocates) Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C.

Donate to the PBC
The PBC needs your help.  If you would like to make a financial contribution you can donate online or via mail:

(please note your contribution is for the "PBC")

Please send contributions to: 
The PBC, RWU School of Law, 10 Metacom Avenue, Bristol, RI 02809

The Pro Bono Collaborative is a grant-funded project at the Roger Williams University School of Law, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit institution. All contributions to the PBC are tax-deductible to the extent provided by law.

Pro Bono Collaborative                                                            Joe Whelan 10-08 event
Feinstein Institute for Legal Service
Roger Williams School of Law
Ten Metacom Avenue
Bristol, RI 02809-5171
fax: 401-254-4540