Why Pro Bono Matters to You, Your Community, and Your Legal Career

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1 Public Public Interest Interest Why Pro Bono Matters to You, Your Community, and Your Legal Career 28

2 2014 by American Health Lawyers Association All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the express written permission of the publisher provided, however, that this publication may be reproduced in part or in whole without permission from the publisher for non-commercial educational purposes designed to improve health in communities and increase access to health care or improve the quality or maintain the cost of health care services. Any such community benefit distribution must be without charge to recipients and must include an attribution to American Health Lawyers Association as follows: Copyright 2014 by the American Health Lawyers Association and reproduced for the benefit of and to promote the health of the community served by the distributing organization. This guidebook can be downloaded for free at American Health Lawyers Association 1620 Eye Street, NW, 6th Floor Washington, DC (202) This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is provided with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal or other professional services. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. From a declaration of the American Bar Association

3 The AHLA Pro Bono Health Law Initiative provides access to resources, educational materials and networking information for health lawyers doing and seeking opportunities to do pro bono legal work. From legal assistance for individuals facing obstacles to obtaining health care or health benefits, to pro bono corporate legal work for health care charitable organizations and major impact litigation on health access issues, there is great diversity in pro bono opportunities for AHLA members. AHLA s webpage, org/probono offers a virtual handbook that provides links to information on: Successful operation of pro bono health law programs in law firm, private corporation, and government agency settings; Connections to organizations doing pro bono work on key health law issues at the national level that are seeking to team with health lawyers; and Information on pro bono legal programs at the state and local level with which AHLA members may collaborate. Many local bar organizations and non-profit legal services organizations maintain networks of volunteer attorneys and firms willing to screen and handle pro bono matters. AHLA members may wish to coordinate with these organizations to set up panels of local firms interested in screening or handling health law-related pro bono matters. AHLA continues to explore new ways to enhance and facilitate pro bono work in the health arena, to expand the initiative to include highlights of pro bono activity by AHLA members, to provide recognition for AHLA members and organizations making significant pro bono health law contributions, and to support clearinghouse and networking functions to help AHLA members find teaming opportunities in pro bono work. Pro Bono Champions The Pro Bono Champion Awards recognize lawyers who have provided significant pro bono legal services in the health care/health law field, helping to increase the availability and quality of health care or otherwise provide needed access to the legal system for those in need. Our awardees represent excellence in fulfillment of the volunteer tradition of the legal profession. Applications are made available on the website beginning in November and are due in April of each year. AHLA s inaugural class of twenty-six Pro Bono Champions and their inspiring stories were featured in the February 2012 AHLA Connections. In 2013, Thirty-one additional Pro Bono Champions were recognized for their dedication to providing pro bono services in the health law field (featured in the June 2013 AHLA Connections). In 2014, twenty-three new Pro Bono Champions will be recognized in AHLA s Top Honors issue of AHLA Connections. Pro Bono Champions are also acknowledged during the Association s Annual Meeting. We hope you will consider nominating a colleague who is worthy of receiving this award. 1

4 Encouraging Pro Bono Engagement The AHLA Young Professionals Council and Public Interest Committee have been working together to produce a Public Interest Pro Bono Interview Series that focuses on encouraging pro bono engagement. These interviews appeared in the November 2013, February 2014, and May 2014 issues of the AHLA Connections magazine, and each article featured two or three interviews with AHLA members from a variety of work settings and practices who have devoted a substantial amount of time to pro bono service. By conducting these interviews, we hope you ll learn from our interviewees experiences so that you can better understand how to get involved, how to balance pro bono service with our other work obligations, and why understand it is so important to make pro bono service a regular part of your entire legal career. Our hope is that by sharing our interviewees stories and advice, we will inspire others to become involved in pro bono service too. This interview series is just one of many ways in which AHLA, through its Public Interest Committee, encourages and informs its members about the many ways in which health care attorneys can help the neediest in our communities. Visit for information on how to start a pro bono program in your own place of employment; resources at the state and local levels; information regarding national pro bono connections; and to read about AHLA s Pro Bono Champions. Their stories are truly inspiring and it s clear how each Champion s commitment to providing pro bono services has impacted the lives of one or many. If you know someone who has been actively involved in pro bono service and would be interested in sharing their experiences in these future articles, please contact me. Jennifer L. Touse Associate Counsel BayCare Health System Inc. Clearwater, FL Jennifer Touse org) is an Associate Counsel for BayCare Health System Inc., a leading communitybased health system in the Tampa Bay area with 12 not-for-profit hospitals numerous outpatient facilities and services, and over 20,000 employees. Ms. Touse is involved in negotiating physician employment and affiliation agreements, negotiating information technology agreements, addressing fraud and abuse matters, and handling other transactional matters. Jennifer received both her undergraduate and juris doctorate degrees from the University of Florida, graduating as valedictorian of her undergraduate class. 2

5 Justin Pitt, Vice President Litigation and Administration, Community Health Systems Professional Services Corporation, Franklin, TN Interviewed by T.J. Ferrante Associate, Carlton Fields, Tampa, FL How did you become involved with pro bono 1 work? Since I graduated from law school, I ve always tried to do a lot of pro bono work. I started at a very small law firm, and we had a lot of people walk in needing help who didn t have the resources to pay for an attorney. It was difficult to turn so many people away so I ve always tried to make pro bono work a significant part of my practice. I took that approach with me when I moved to a big firm in Nashville and later to CHS. 2Please describe your initial involvement with the Williamson County Legal Aid Clinic. When I was in private practice in Nashville, I was involved with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands which provided a walk-in legal clinic once a month. Later, when I left my private law firm practice to work in-house for CHS, the Legal Aid Society contacted me to see if I would continue to volunteer with a new Williamson County Legal Aid Clinic (Clinic) they were starting up. I agreed and began volunteering at the Clinic once a month. One day, I had to explain to our General Counsel, Rachel Seifert that I needed to leave an important meeting in order to get to the Clinic on time. She became curious and started asking me questions about the Clinic. Eventually, she started attending walk-in clinics with me once a month as well. After both of us had been volunteering for a while, she decided that our Legal Department could partner with the Clinic to provide our in-house lawyers with a regular opportunity to provide pro bono assistance. The Clinic is now staffed with CHS lawyers every first Tuesday of the month. 3Please share a particular story of a pro bono client that you helped. The most meaningful case that I ve had through the Clinic occurred when I was standing outside the Clinic being interviewed by a local newspaper. There was an elderly gentleman sitting a few feet away who was listening to me intently during the interview. When the interview with the newspaper was over, he walked over and sat down with me and began to tell me his story about how he had been injured as a result of a toxic tort. I listed to this gentleman for almost two hours and as we started finishing up, he started weeping heavily not just a tear, but sobbing. He then looked at me and said that he had been dealing with this for about nine months and that I was the first person who had ever listened to him. This was one of those moments where I realized that, yes we are there to provide advice, yes we are there to try to help people with their legal problems and all the other things that attorneys do, but primarily, in legal aid clinics like this one, sometimes what people need most is just having someone to listen to them and treat them with dignity. 4What suggestions do you have for young attorneys who may be hesitant to get involved with pro bono activities because they feel they lack expertise? My advice is that pro bono cases are actually the best way to get that first experience. The best way to learn something is to do it. When I first came out of law school, I was in litigation, and I knew I needed courtroom experience. I knew that if I took a pro bono landlord/tenant case or a pro bono car accident case, or something similar, that I could go down to general sessions court and try that case within two months. Pro bono cases are the perfect cases for when you don t have a lot of experience. My advice for younger lawyers whose expertise is in health care law and are hesitant about taking a litigation case or a 3

6 divorce case or another case outside of their area of expertise would be to find someone in their law firm or professional network to be a sounding board. This doesn t mean you need to ask this person to partner with you on the case, but rather, just ask them to let you periodically bounce ideas off of them. 5Does your organization, CHS, provide any additional pro bono training? There are two kinds of training. The Legal Aid Society provides lawyers to walk us through how the process works at the Clinic. The other way we receive training is to pair up our new lawyers with a lawyer that has more pro bono experience for the first few Clinic sessions. This gives our new lawyers a feel for how the pro bono process works. I am thankful that CHS has always been very supportive of the Legal Department s pro bono initiatives. 6What advice do you have for young lawyers who are faced with challenges associated with time constraints? The biggest challenge when I was a younger associate in a big law firm was making my billable hours. To deal with this, I learned to let the partners I worked for know how many pro bono cases I had, what the cases were about, and why I was taking them. For example, if you take a pro bono case that s going to go to trial, my advice would be to approach your partners and explain to them that you re taking the pro bono case to gain trial experience and that trial experience will make you a more effective lawyer, while also assisting someone in need. You will get much more buy-in from a law firm when you are open and candid with your firm about what you are working on for pro bono and explain to the firm why it benefits the firm and benefits you professionally while also providing a service to the community. This may not completely do away with time constraints, but it will usually result in the law firm being more giving of its time. Ultimately, however, there is no getting away from the fact that taking on pro bono work as a young lawyer, especially in a large law firm, is a sacrifice. But we are fortunate people, and there are a lot of people out there whose lives are much harder than ours. I think it is incumbent upon us to make the time because there are so many people who need help. 7How do you estimate in advance the resources and time that a pro bono matter may take? Find the lawyers in your firm who appear to be doing a lot of pro bono work and pick their brains. People who do pro bono work tend to be passionate about it and are usually willing to talk about it. Talk to those people and you can often get advice and a sense from them of how much time a case will take. The other great resource is the full-time lawyers with your local legal aid society. When I moved to Nashville, I befriended one of the lawyers at the legal aid society. I would often approach her and let her know, for example, that I had about 20 to 30 hours in the next four months to dedicate to pro bono work and would ask whether there was anything in the pipeline that would fit that time commitment well. I would really encourage people to use their local legal aid society. It is a great resource and they are very helpful in helping you pick the right kind of case. 8Have you ever taken on a pro bono case or project that ended up being too much for you to handle alone? Yes. Once, I took on a divorce case that ended up having some difficult child custody issues. I finally reached a point in that case where I had to reach out to a friend of mine who worked at another law firm and was a full-time divorce lawyer. After a lot of begging and pleading, he agreed to help me with the case. When it comes down to it, you can t be afraid to ask for help when you think you need it. 9Do you have any Dos and Don ts when agreeing to pro bono representation? I think the biggest Do is to listen. You have to remember that a lot of potential pro bono clients are not sophisticated business people and do not understand the legal system. As a young lawyer, there were times when I did not listen long enough to my client and I jumped to the wrong conclusions. I think that with some pro bono clients, it takes a while to figure out what the real issues are. The other big Do is to treat your pro bono client like you would your other clients. Define the attorney-client relationship like you do with your other clients. Terminate the attorney-client relationship like you would with your other clients. Do this not only because they deserve to be treated that way, but also because it will serve you well. 4

7 If young professionals don t have a pro bono 10program in place where they work, what would you suggest that they do first to set up a pro bono program? If you are in an organization that doesn t already have a pro bono program, try to get one started. What I have found with respect to pro bono work is that most everybody deep down wants to do it, but many lawyers believe they don t know how to do it. For example, a HIPAA lawyer may be afraid to branch out into a courtroom or may not know how he can otherwise contribute. If you want to make a difference, figure out the how. I think that if you figure out the how, not only will other lawyers in your firm participate, but I believe your company will be more likely to participate. People want to do good; they just need to figure out the how. What general advice can you give to young 11health care lawyers? Make sure that your pro bono work puts you in actual contact with people in need. These are the people who come into your client s hospitals. These are the people who walk into your physician client s offices. These are your client s clients. I think this type of pro bono work gives you a fantastic perspective and experience and really teaches you how to listen. Also, on a bigger scale, even though we are all worried about billable hours and advancing our careers, it is important to remember that pro bono activities will give you an overwhelming sense of perspective. Often, I ll hear myself or one of our other lawyers grumble about going to the Clinic and the drive across town after work, fighting rush hour traffic, to get there, but the day after, we are always grateful that we went to the Clinic. Justin Pitt currently serves as Vice President of Litigation and Administration at Community Health Systems Professional Services Corporation (CHS). Justin Pitt joined CHS in 2009 after nine years of private practice in commercial litigation, health law and government relations. He provides litigation and operational support for multiple divisions and departments and is responsible for the legal department s administrative matters. Pitt received his undergraduate degree, cum laude, from Carson-Newman College, and his law degree from Washington University (Order of the Coif), where he was a William Webster Fellow. He is a current member and former Chairman of the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance. Mr. Pitt is an active AHLA member and serves on the Dispute Resolution Council. Thomas (T.J.) Ferrante carltonfields.com) focuses his practice on a wide range of transactional and related regulatory issues for health industry clients, including for-profit and not-for-profit hospitals and health systems, multi-specialty physician practice groups, and long-term care providers. He also advises health care clients in all aspects of federal and state regulatory matters and handles federal and state tax matters with respect to individual, corporate, tax exempt organization, and pass-through entities. Mr. Ferrante received a BA in Philosophy in Spanish from the College of the Holy Cross (2007) in Worcester, MA, and an MBA in Finance from the Sykes College of Business at the University of Tampa (2009). Mr. Ferrante then received his JD (2011) and LLM in Taxation (2012) from Boston University School of Law. 5

8 Bradley M. Thompson Epstein Becker & Green PC, Washington, DC Interviewed by Lauren DeWitt Associate, Weber Gallagher, Warren, NJ 1Why did you initially become involved in pro bono work? It was my Christian faith that initially prompted me to get involved in pro bono work. I felt called to help people in my community who might otherwise not have access to legal representation. I became involved with the Gospel Justice Initiative (www.gji.org), which allowed me to utilize my legal skills, along with my Christian beliefs, to help others. The Gospel Justice Initiative connects experienced attorneys who volunteer to provide legal services to society s most vulnerable and underrepresented populations through Christian legal clinics (also known as Justice Centers ). The Gospel Justice Initiative also provides attorneys with a framework to support and sustain a Christian legal clinic in their area. At this point, we have 50 Christian legal clinics in the United States, and our goal is to establish 1,000 clinics. 2What type of skills do you rely on most in your pro bono work? I find I utilize vastly different skills in my pro bono work than I do in my food and drug practice, drawing primarily upon my human relations skills. The single most important thing I can do for a client is to listen to them. I have learned how important it is that you show pro bono clients that you care; intently listening will generally do that on its own. As a pro bono attorney, you have to allow the client enough space to share their story. I give the clients the opportunity to share with me everything that they feel they need to in conveying their reason for seeking the clinic s assistance. I can talk with a client for an hour or more and wind up with one or two paragraphs of legally relevant facts, but it is important that they feel like they have been heard. Follow-up questions are also important, and that is where I utilize more of my traditional legal skills. I figure out what are the best questions to ask, identify potential legal issues and forward the client on to the resource that would most benefit them. 3Please describe an unexpected benefit of the pro bono work that you do. I have gained humility and an increased ability to empathize from my involvement with pro bono work. Through my involvement at the Christian legal clinics, I have the opportunity to understand better what people struggle with in this country. As lawyers, we are a privileged group of people and we do not always recognize that. 4What suggestions do you have for young attorneys who may be hesitant to get involved in pro bono activities because they feel they lack expertise? My advice would be to find organizations where you do not necessarily need expertise. There are not many opportunities to practice food and drug law on a pro bono level. Legal clinics formed through the Gospel Justice Initiative utilize a three step process. First there is an intake screening, the client is then routed to the department within the clinic that focuses on that area of the law, and finally, the client may be routed to someone in our network of volunteer attorneys who specialize in various areas of the law. I do the intake on Saturdays at my local legal clinic. Doing the intake has given me the opportunity to help people without having any expertise in the particular area of law pertinent to that client. I utilize those skills that we all have as lawyers: listening, questioning, critical thinking and identifying issues. I work with a team of people and together we try to meet the client s needs. Sometimes the clients don t need legal help but rather need guidance on where they can obtain social services or assistance of another kind. For example, one day while doing intake at the clinic an 80-year-old woman hobbled into my office using a walker. She had severe diabetes, with all of the side effects that accompany the advanced stage, including loss of eyesight and loss of the function of her extremities. I asked her how we could help her. She took some crumpled papers out of her purse, and spread them on the table in front of me. She explained that because of her eyesight she couldn t read them very well. She offered 6

9 her general understanding that they were from the Board of Health, and that they were condemning her home. I looked at the papers, and they indeed said her home was going to be condemned. I asked her how this had come to be. She explained that a nice woman from the Board of Health came to visit her, and had asked to look around. This inspector noted conditions around her house that needed fixing, and this paper arrived sometime later. I got excited. As a food and drug lawyer, in nearly every case for the clinic, I don t know a darn thing that is useful. However, I do know something about the power of government agencies on health matters. Immediately, my mind starts going through Supreme Court case law on the requirements for lawful inspection. So I start brainstorming out loud with this woman, and she just looks at me confused. Then she states that she wants to make sure that I understand that all of the things that the inspector found broken are indeed broken. I explained that as an attorney, I will decide whether the conditions do in fact meet the requirements. She continues to just look at me puzzled and perhaps with a bit of pity. I go back into my thinking mode about how I m going to challenge this inspection, and then there s the small voice from my right side. The paralegal who has been sitting there says she has an idea. She has a friend at her church who is willing to help the elderly with basic home maintenance for free. He spends a couple hours each weekend fixing broken stuff to help out the elderly if they re all alone. My paralegal is looking at the individual items on the list and explaining how relatively simple it would be to fix them. Well, I say, that s another way to go, so I asked the client which she would prefer. She opts for the handyman route. That experience highlights how expertise is not always the most important thing. In that instance I had expertise in that specific area of the law but the legal route was not necessarily in the client s best interest. Rather through working with my teammate and drawing on community resources we were able to help this client and improve her quality of life. 5If young professionals don t have a pro bono program in place where they work, what would you suggest that they do first to set up a pro bono program or to provide pro bono service on their own? I would suggest young professionals never work alone in doing pro bono work. We are stronger when we work together and it makes us more effective in providing assistance to populations in need when we have others with varying expertise and skills to draw upon. That is what I find so helpful about the Gospel Justice Initiative; it helps connect attorneys interested in pro bono work with other like-minded individuals in their area. The Gospel Justice Initiative gives classes on how to organize Christian legal clinics and advice on best practices for free legal programs. This allows an individual attorney to spearhead an effort but not without guidance, assistance and a network of individuals that they can call upon should they need help. 6Do you have any other advice for young professionals about pro bono work? We are all busy and it is difficult to fit pro bono work into our busy practices. However, you should never lessen quality to get the job done. You should always do the best job you can do and the best job that can be done under the circumstances. You will get a great amount of personal satisfaction from doing pro bono work and doing it well. Bradley Merrill Thompson is a shareholder in the law firm of Epstein Becker & Green PC. There he counsels medical device, drug, and combination product companies on a wide range of FDA regulatory and reimbursement issues. At the firm, Mr. Thompson leads the Medical Device Regulatory Practice, the Clinical Trials Practice and the Connected Health Practice, and serves on the firm s Health & Life Sciences Steering Committee. Mr. Thompson has taught food & drug law at Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis and Columbia Law School and serves on several editorial boards. In 2013, Mr. Thompson is serving on a congressionallyauthorized federal advisory committee called the Food and Drug Administration Safety Innovation Act (FDASIA) Workgroup. That workgroup is charged with providing expert input to FDA, ONC, and the FCC on a regulatory framework for health information technology, including mobile medical applications. On that workgroup, Mr. Thompson serves as co-chair of the Regulations sub-workgroup. Mr. Thompson has written extensively on the topics of medical device regulation. He was included in 100 Notable People in the Medical Device Industry, has earned an AV rating in Martindale Hubble (its highest rating), has been named a SuperLawyer in Indiana and Washington DC, has been elected as a Fellow in the American Bar Foundation and is listed in Chambers USA: A Guide to America s Leading Business Lawyers. Mr. Thompson received his BA cum laude, and an MBA from the University of Illinois and his JD cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School. Lauren A. DeWitt is an Associate at Weber Gallagher in Warren, NJ. She represents health care providers in regulatory and transactional matters. Lauren also represents health care providers in medical professional liability cases. Her clients include acute care facilities, long-term care facilities, physicians, nurses and technicians. She is a graduate of Seton Hall University School of Law and Rutgers University. 7

10 Kathy Cerminara Nova Southeastern University, Davie, FL Interviewed by Amy Sanders Associate, Bass Berry & Sims PLC, Nashville, TN How and why did you choose to become 1 involved with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) awareness and research? The child of a marine, my respect for military personnel and veterans runs deep. My father returned from Korea physically and mentally intact, his good fortune growing increasingly apparent to me as I noticed that certain symptoms were prevalent in other soldiers and veterans. I met veterans living on a spectrum with an inexplicable tipping point one was institutionalized due to mental health issues, another lived in his car because he was unable to ease back into life at home. I saw how easily Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) could rob soldiers and veterans of the respect they deserve. The National Institute of Mental Health recognizes PTSD as an invisible brain injury that changes or damages the body s natural fightor-flight response. The Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Education recently committed to integrating and sharing research in order to accelerate progress on the issue at a national level. As a law professor at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) Shepard Broad Law Center, I m trying to tackle the issue from a community angle. The Wounds of War symposium, which I organized with my colleague Olympia Duhart, also a law professor, grew out of a collective effort at NSU to focus on veterans issues. Another project is still in the works: we are launching a veterans clinic at the NSU Law Center in the early months of 2014, which I hope will develop into a medical/legal partnership to address legal and mental health issues simultaneously. Mental health issues can trigger legal issues you can t fix the whole problem if you only fix the legal problem. 2What suggestions do you have for young attorneys who may be hesitant to get involved with veterans issues or other pro bono activities because they feel they lack expertise? All lawyers start somewhere. There s a first time for everything. Ask questions of others who know the field, and do your research. I recall feeling overwhelmed and terrified about a pro bono paternity case I took on while working as an associate in the litigation department of a law firm. The firm s pro bono efforts centered on paternity cases, so, moving past my fear that I lacked useful skills, I asked others for advice. Higher level associates and a few partners passed along information that quieted the overwhelming feeling. I learned you have to jump in and represent the client (after sufficient preparation) to move past the feeling of being terrified. 3Please tell us about the teamwork behind your pro bono efforts. The year before I became involved with this project, our school decided to launch a law review symposium series. The faculty member who organized the first symposium, Michael Dale, suggested PTSD as a focus of the second symposium. I was immediately attracted to the idea because of the great need for increased awareness and appreciation of the special issues faced by veterans and active-duty military personnel with PTSD. The area was a nice fit for me because of my health law expertise, and it was a nice fit for Professor Duhart, because of her focus on social justice in her work and writing. It was also a great way to spark the interest of students and teach them about veterans issues before we launched the clinic. Some of them might eventually work in the clinic. Also, fortuitous timing allowed the day to be capped off by the hiring announcement of a staff attorney for the clinic. The team behind the PTSD symposium stretched beyond the walls of the school, though, and helped to form lasting 8

11 relationships. The event so impressed the judge of our county mental health court and the judge of our veterans court that they have both returned to assist with other projects in which I ve been involved. 4Without disclosing any confidential information, can you tell us about someone whom you have helped through your efforts? A student came to me after the symposium to share his own PTSD stories, and explained he was inspired to help others who are struggling. Just talking about the issue is a step forward. The staff attorney NSU hired for the clinic noted that veterans returning from recent missions to places like Iraq represented a new era of veteran. They have served in multiple combat tours, yet they come back and are still so young they are in graduate education programs or begin serving at the professional level so soon after combat. 5What is your favorite memory from this experience and/or what are you most proud of? My favorite memory is the audience s reaction to a slide show featuring Pulitzer-Prize-winning photographs. It silenced everyone with its images of an Iraq veteran s small victories over PTSD contrasted with moments of startling despair. You could hear a pin drop in the large auditorium. I m most proud of the combination of speakers at the symposium. We had a member of active-duty military, a veteran who shared his PTSD struggles for the first time, the most noted expert on PTSD-related suicide in the country, a high-level expert in the Department of Defense, and many non-lawyer participants. Several veterans were seated in the audience and added further insight, thanks to the publicity of the event through a local veteran s hospital. I think this gave the audience a well-rounded look at PTSD and the issues it raises. 6What benefit are you hoping the veteran s clinic brings to the community? It s informative to look to an existing program in our area: one symposium panelist was the judge of the Broward County Veterans Court, a pretrial diversion program designed for veterans struggling with PTSD. Instead of doling out punishment for breaking the law, veterans courts recognize that a veteran s unlawful actions may be caused by PTSD and try to help veterans find therapeutic alternatives. I believe in the principle of cooperative representation the law can and should work hand in hand with other professions to assist in improving mental health. The law school is just one part of a university campus that has many services that could potentially benefit veterans. 7How is your pro bono work different from your day-to-day work? How do you transition between the two? It is both different from and similar to my day-to-day work. The time spent conceptualizing, planning, and putting on this symposium was different from my classroom teaching in that it took place very much in private or in one-on-one conversations and exchanges with others. In that way, it s a bit like the part of my job that involves writing scholarly articles another relatively solitary activity. To be a teacher, you have to be on during class, almost like an actor going onstage or a trial lawyer going into trial. This planning was much more about research and about being detail-oriented, which is what I have to do with my scholarship. 8Did the school provide any additional training that helped you? No training, but it did provide the most amazing resource in the form of our director of communications and special events, Jennifer Jarema. Once Professor Duhart and I had conceptualized our program and identified the participants, all we had to do was to secure their agreement to participate. Jennifer produced the brochure, handled travel arrangements, booked rooms she did all the groundwork. 9How has your pro bono service made you a better professor? It s reawakened an interest in me in therapeutic jurisprudence, the legal theory that asserts that the law should work toward good psychological functioning of its citizens. Becoming more familiar with PTSD and its effects and learning more about the veterans court and other ways the law could be more therapeutic toward those with PTSD has inspired me to raise such issues with my students. 10 Aside from time constraints, what is the biggest challenge that you face in your pro bono work? Honestly, the biggest challenge can be getting help from others which I understand, as sometimes it s difficult to volunteer my own time and effort. That said, there s a lot of good will to be had when people learn that you support veterans in their efforts to get on with their lives after returning from duty. We owe so much to those who help protect us and our freedoms; many people are happy to support those who help them. 9

12 Professor Kathy Cerminara edu) bridges the medical and legal professions with her work on patients rights in the end-of-life decision-making arena. She co-authors the nationally known treatise, The Right to Die: The Law of End-of-Life Decisionmaking, and is a reviewer for several medical and medical-legal journals. Her scholarship most recently has focused on the intersection between end-oflife care, palliative care, and health care coverage policy. At the Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center, she is a full professor and serves as Director of Faculty Development. Professor Cerminara teaches Torts, Health Policy, Bioethics & Quality of Care, Administrative Law, Civil Procedure, and other health-law-related courses. She also created and was the initial director of the online Master of Science in Health Law program for non-lawyers. Prior to joining the Law Center faculty, Professor Cerminara taught at St. Thomas University School of Law and the University of Miami School of Law, clerked in the Western District of Pennsylvania and the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and practiced law with Reed Smith Shaw & McClay in Pittsburgh, PA. Professor Cerminara received her JD, magna cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh and her LLM and JSD from Columbia University. She is an affiliate member of the Health Law and Tort Trial and Insurance sections of The Florida Bar, a retired member of the Pennsylvania Bar, and a member of the American Bar Association, the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics and the American Health Lawyers Association. Amy Sanders is an associate at Bass Berry & Sims PLC in Nashville, TN. She focuses on operational, regulatory and transactional work for health care providers ranging from hospitals and urgent care centers to home health providers and hospice. Before joining the firm s health care group, Amy gained experience at the Tennessee Department of Health and Vanderbilt University s Center for Patient and Professional Advocacy. Ms. Sanders earned her law degree from Vanderbilt University. She attended Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario and received an Ontario College Graduate Certificate in Journalism: New Media and attended The University of Western Ontario where she received a BA in Media, Information and Technoculture. 10

13 Mark Cunningham Jones Walker LLP New Orleans, LA Interviewed by Laurice M. Rutledge, Associate, McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, Atlanta, GA 1What type of pro bono work you are involved in? I am a long time supporter of, and continue to be dedicated to, the New Orleans Musicians Clinic (NOMC) and Assistance Foundation (NOMAF). I am also a volunteer lawyer and former Board Chair of The Pro Bono Project (PBP), an organization which provides free civil legal services through a network of volunteer lawyers to under-served communities in the New Orleans metropolitan area. Over the course of my career, I have also provided pro bono litigation services to nonprofits such as the Innocence Project and regularly accept pro bono appointments for individuals charged in state court with criminal offenses. 2How did you become involved in pro bono work? I am an antitrust lawyer by day and realized early on in my career that if I wanted to be a successful litigator, I needed to log hours in the courtroom because as a junior associate in a large law firm, such opportunities were hard to come by. When thinking about the types of lawyers who spend the most time in the courtroom, criminal attorneys came to mind. As a result, I decided to begin representing indigent criminal defendants. My first criminal case was a drug possession with intent to distribute case. The more criminal cases I took on, the more confidence and experience I gained, and over the past sixteen years, I have handled over twenty criminal cases, including two capital murder cases. Although many of these cases required hundreds of hours of attorney and paralegal time, I viewed the time as very well spent. 3You initially became involved in pro bono work to build your litigation skills. Do you view pro bono work as a significant professional development tool? Absolutely. It has been a critical role in my professional development. Pro bono work is personally fulfilling and has made me a better lawyer. For instance, I gained valuable trial experience though my pro bono criminal defense practice, the pro bono work has raised my profile both inside and outside my law firm, and I have developed a much wider network of professional relationships than I would have, had I focused solely on my day job. 4What suggestions do you have for young attorneys who may be hesitant to get involved with pro bono activities because they feel they lack expertise? My advice is that all attorneys should accept pro bono cases only if they are prepared to show their clients the same level of commitment afforded paying clients. Attorneys also should aim to take on cases in areas of the law that interest them and that are well-suited to their level of experience. That said, attorneys should not necessarily turn down a pro bono opportunity simply because it would require the attorney to work in an area of law where they have little experience, as subject matter experts are almost always available to provide assistance either as co-counsel or on an informal basis. 5 Please explain how you have used your pro bono experience to help effect public policy changes. In 2012, the public defender system in New Orleans experienced a funding shortfall. Some state court judges reacted by appointing members of the private bar to help clear their criminal dockets. This resulted in in-house, firm and other civil attorneys being called on to accept criminal defense cases even if they had no prior criminal law experience. Although I understood why the judges felt like they had little choice but to appoint private counsel, I also believed that this system raised serious due process concerns for indigent defendants who would be represented by attorneys with no criminal law experience. Working with the district public 11

14 defender, I organized a consortium of the larger private law firms in New Orleans to take on indigent representations until the funding crisis could be resolved. Everyone in the legal community chipped in the private law firms dedicated thousands of hours of attorney time, the criminal defense bar made themselves available as consultant to the private firms, West donated hundreds of criminal procedure handbooks, and the state and local bars helped recruit volunteers. All told this community effort donated well over $1 million in attorney time. 6How do you balance your robust pro bono practice with your full time client demands? Well, I consider the practice of law to be more of a hobby than a job. I believe that as a member of the bar, it is my duty to provide legal services to those who would otherwise have limited access to such services, and I gain a sense of fulfillment and enrichment from the pro bono work that I do. Making a difference in someone s life is a true gift. 7Does Jones Walker support your dedication to pro bono work? Jones Walker s support has been invaluable in my commitment to pro bono services. The firm does not require its attorneys to perform a certain number of pro bono hours per year but instead takes an entrepreneurial approach to pro bono services. Jones Walker provides its attorneys with the monetary resources and staff to take such cases, thereby encouraging its attorneys to become involved in, and give back to, their communities. As a result, I have always felt supported and free to pursue my pro bono efforts and in turn I have been dedicated to Jones Walker and my full-time practice. Mark Cunningham is a partner with the Corporate Compliance and Litigation Team and maintains an active national trial and appellate practice focused on antitrust, intellectual property, export control, and commercial dispute. He has been annually recognized by Benchmark Litigation, Super Lawyers, The Best Lawyers in America, and New Orleans City Business for his trial work and leadership in the New Orleans legal community since His recent significant engagements include defeating an application for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against an international recycling concern charged with federal antitrust violations. Mr. Cunningham also recently served as lead counsel for a software concern targeted by federal authorities for allegedly violating the embargo against Iran. Mr. Cunningham also recently obtained a preliminary injunction against a software licensee pirating software on behalf of hacker syndicate located in Eastern Europe and a not-guilty verdict on behalf of a wrongfully accused juvenile facing a mandatory life sentence. In addition to his trial practice, Mr. Cunningham serves as an adjunct professor for Antitrust Law at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and has held numerous leadership positions in the ABA, Louisiana State Bar Association, and the New Orleans Bar Association. Laurice Rutledge focuses her practice on health care law, advising clients in connection with regulatory, compliance, and corporate health care matters, including the structuring of transactions among health care providers, confidentiality and privacy of medical records, the establishment and implementation of compliance programs, reimbursement matters, clinical research related matters, and health care fraud and abuse issues. Currently, Ms. Rutledge is the Secretary for the Law Pipeline Program, a non-profit organization that works to ensure that middle and high school students in the Atlanta community have the resources and experiences necessary to be successful after high school in hopes that they will enter the pipeline of legal professionals. Ms. Rutledge is also the Chair for the Georgia Bar s Advocates for Students with Disabilities Committee where she has worked to create the Education Advocacy for Students with Special Needs Program, which pairs low-income parents of children with special needs with pro bono attorneys. While in law school, Ms. Rutledge served as the Symposium Editor for The Georgia State University Law Review and was on the Moot Court Board. Prior to law school, Ms. Rutledge worked as a senior associate for LECG in Washington, DC where she helped develop the consulting firm s health care litigation sector. She received her JD from Georgia State University, 2010, magna cum laude and her B.A. from The College of William and Mary, 2004, cum laude. 12

15 Lisa M. Kaderabek Partner, McDermott Will & Emery LLP Chicago, IL Interviewed by Sarah Jordan, Staff Attorney, Palomar Health, San Diego, CA 1How did you initially become involved with The Women s Treatment Center of Chicago? My partner, Andrea Kramer (Andie), was a founding board member of The Women s Treatment Center, an Illinois 501(c)(3) agency, whose mission is to provide women with a continuum of care, recovery tools, and parenting skills to maintain a sober lifestyle as they rebuild their lives and futures and mend the bonds with their families. In 1993, TWTC had a pooled bond arrangement, and my first project for TWTC was to analyze this tax-exempt bond debt. I helped TWTC determine whether the interest rate and bond covenants were still appropriate, given the small amount of debt outstanding. 2What suggestions do you have for young attorneys who may be hesitant to get involved in pro bono activities because they feel they lack expertise? If young professionals talk to their coworkers, I believe they are likely to find support for what they want to do. In addition to general support, they may also find that people are likely to be willing to help them out for causes in which they are interested or from a sense of collegiality. While you may get questions that are outside your comfort zone while providing pro bono service, I have always found that people within my firm will step up to the occasion and assist. In a polite way, simply ask your colleagues for help and of course be helpful to them in return. 3Without disclosing any confidential information, can you tell us about a case you handled, a client you helped? I recently helped two not-for-profit associations that joined forces. One of the two organizations was over 100 years old. I enjoyed the history that came with this project, and I found the opportunity to work alongside the not-for-profit boards that wanted to ensure they were doing the right thing to support the missions of the organizations especially interesting. It was also fun to be involved in the array of issues that come up in such a transaction. For example, the plan of communication surrounding the announcement of the two associations combination was important, and we had to consider how to handle the communication of the change to donors, clients and the media. This was not a transaction directly related to health care, but it was a 501(c)(3) not-forprofit transaction, and helping contribute to the successful combination of these two associations was a dynamic and rewarding project. 4Aside from time constraints, what is the biggest challenge you face in your pro bono work? Because a lot of my pro bono work comes from acting in a general counsel role, there are times when I get questions from clients that are outside my area. In situations like this, I take entire ownership of the project and handle it just as I would tackle a project in my firm or personal life I get educated. If you take entire ownership of the project, then you think about the project as if it was your own project. By reading about the issue online, speaking with relevant people about it, and conducting research, you can find a working approach to the problem. In general, do not give up. Keep pulling the thread until you find the person who can help you with it. After all, if you do not do it, then who will? 5How is your pro bono work different from your day-to-day work? How do you transition between the two? I do not treat them very differently at all. Once you take on pro bono work, you spend just as much time on it as you do on your non-pro bono work. While you do not need to differentiate, you do need to ensure you manage expectations in terms of delivery. If you have to find another person to help you with a project, then you will want to ensure that timing is okay in terms of project delivery. 13

16 6If young professionals do not have a pro bono program in place where they work, what would you suggest that they do first if they are interested in setting up a pro bono program? Or if they are interested in providing pro bono service on their own? There are a lot of bar and other agencies out there that are always looking for pro bono help. Some agencies have nicely structured programs, which are good for young associates who would like to know they are not getting in over their heads. There are also programs that provide training for the volunteer attorneys (e.g., school counseling programs, tax return preparation programs). If a young professional is already involved in his/her community with causes in which he/she is interested, there is another route to take often times, all as it takes is asking the executive director or a staffer if the organization needs legal help. If a young associate finds a project of this nature that the associate is willing to take on, then the associate can turn to the firm s pro bono committee (if the firm has one), and see if the associate can go through the firm s policy or procedure of bringing on/taking on a new pro bono project. This path permits younger attorneys to work for causes about which they are genuinely passionate. For young professionals who are not already involved in community projects, there may be yet another route to explore potential pro bono opportunities. For instance, in any law firm, and even in in-house settings at health care entities, some of the charitable activities your supervisors and colleagues are involved in are likely in the transactional area. For young professionals who do not want to go too far out of their comfort zone, ask the people you work with or your friends or neighbors what causes they care about, and explore potential opportunities that way. 7What kind of questions do you ask when screening a pro bono case before agreeing to take it on? You do always want to check conflicts before committing to any project. Even if you have assisted a client on a long-term basis, you still need to run a conflict check for each project. It is also important to ask a sufficient number of questions from the outset, so you have a full understanding of the project. If the project looks like it might be outside of your expertise, ensure that you would be able to staff the project appropriately. For example, if the matter will involve you having to go to court and you are not comfortable handling a litigated matter alone, make sure you connect with a litigation colleague who will help you. 8How and why did you choose what you are doing? While I initially became involved in pro bono work because my partner asked me to, I thoroughly enjoy the work I do on a pro bono basis. I enjoy getting calls on a day-to-day basis and it is dynamic and never the same. Making sure that women are able to get into substance abuse treatment and have their children provided for at the same time is a cause that is dear to my heart. Through pro bono work, I am able to interact with people on a human level. Pro bono work improves lives, your own included. 9What types of skills do you rely on most? Listening and counseling skills. At the outset, you have to listen, and this includes listening to how the entity anticipates addressing the issue and potentially recommending an alternative solution. For example, when managers or the board are considering alternative actions, it is important that they have a robust understanding of the pros and cons. Do you think that your experience providing 10 pro bono work has made you a better attorney? Yes. I have been able to do projects that I probably would not have done otherwise. The beauty of the pro bono projects is that you are helping people. The idea that what we are doing is touching human lives is very important to me. Does your firm have a program that helps 11people get involved in pro bono work? The American Bar Association (ABA) has pro bono goals, and McDermott Will & Emery always strives to meet them. There are a wide variety of firm-sanctioned pro bono opportunities, including tutoring in the schools and developing lesson plans for public school students who need special services. Associates here, as in many large firms, have the ability to either step into ready-made programs, or bring their own projects to the firm s pro bono committee for approval. Lisa M. Kaderabek is a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and is based in the firm s Chicago, IL, office. She focuses her practice on health care transactions, including securities offerings, joint ventures, physician/hospital syndications, tax-exempt bond financings, captive insurance, mergers and acquisi- 14

17 tions, partnerships, corporate governance and formation. Ms. Kaderabek advises and represents a wide variety of clients, including issuers and underwriters of publicly and privately offered securities, including bonds, financial institutions, hospitals, other health care and medical equipment providers, captive insurance industry participants, business corporations, limited liability companies and partnerships. She is a frequent lecturer on securities laws, corporate governance and the impact of federal and state securities laws on health care transactions. Ms. Kaderabek is a recipient of the 2012 National Public Service Award from the American Bar Association Business Law Section, the Inaugural American Health Lawyers Association Pro Bono Champion Award for 2010 and 2011, as well as the firm s 2012 Pro Bono Award. Sarah E. Jordan is a Staff Attorney for Palomar Health, a health care district in southern California with several facilities. Ms. Jordan is involved in contract review and negotiating the health care district s business associate agreements. Ms. Jordan received a BA in Spanish and Sociocultural Psychology from Bates College (2009) in Lewiston, ME, and a JD from California Western School of Law (2012) in San Diego, CA. Ms. Jordan is a member of California Western s School of Law Public Service and Pro Bono Honor Societies. 15

18 Lesli Esposito Blunt v. Lower Merion School District is a civil rights case currently before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.* How did you become involved? The case revolves around allegations of racial discrimination in a Philadelphia school district. As a Philadelphia resident, the case caught my attention in part because it was happening in my own backyard. Attorneys from my firm, DLA, are working alongside the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP) on the case it feels like a local effort. The suit was filed on behalf of six African American families claiming minority students in the Lower Merion School District were disproportionately placed into special education programs. It s a case of segregation by special education, which Congress recognized as a nation-wide problem over a decade ago. Students were placed in remedial classes away from standard college preparatory classes, they were improperly identified as learning disabled, and they were denied access to honors courses. As a result, those students received a substandard education. The theme of this case struck a chord for me. It reminds me of another pro bono project I worked on, which was also about classifying people based on certain disabilities. That prior case was about housing choice for individuals with intellectual disabilities. It was a response to the movement to integrate people with certain disabilities into the community, sometimes without considering the best interests of the individuals. In both cases, the treatment of people based on their classification as disabled is troubling. Will you tell us more about that first case? My work with VOR, a nonprofit advocacy group for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, changed my whole mindset on pro bono work. DLA Piper became involved at the appellate level of Benjamin v. Department of Public Welfare of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 1:09-cv (M.D. Pa. 2009), based on a request received from our pro bono coordinator. At first I thought that writing an amicus brief for VOR would be just a quick, interesting way to meet my target for pro bono hours. But, I found myself working alongside an extraordinary group of people and I grew to respect and admire the organization. Now, a few years later, I m still working with the organization. VOR witnessed the effect of the late 1990s push to integrate people with disabilities into the community. A lot of state facilities were being shut down and people were moved to community-based housing. Some individuals thrived but for some, the move was detrimental to their wellbeing. VOR is not an organization that believes everyone should be institutionalized; it advocates for choice and a wide variety of care options. One size fits all doesn t work. VOR was the perfect kind of organization to take the lead on this issue in Pennsylvania because of its national perspective; it knew of the atrocities that occurred in certain instances when people were moved to inappropriate and often underfunded living situations. VOR looked to states that had perhaps gone too far, too fast with the community-integration agenda and communicated those lessons learned. How does your firm encourage attorneys to engage in pro bono work? DLA Piper has a pro bono requirement, which I think is good encouragement and can help connect people to various causes. Really, though, you need to find a cause and a client you care about then you ll really enjoy the work. If a young professional s workplace that doesn t have a pro bono program, what do you suggest that he or she do to find pro bono service work? I suggest looking into nonprofit legal service providers. These organizations might be geared toward a certain community, population, or type of law. They are a great source of pro bono referrals. Also, consider talking to people at your firm about establishing a pro bono program; maybe others are interested as well. The firm might be able to partner with clients to offer specific services in areas in which they already have experience. 16

19 What questions do you ask when screening a pro bono case? Ask what s expected of you. As is true in every project, it is crucial to understand what the client wants and what they expect you to do to achieve that outcome. Depending on the entity with which you re working (if any), consider asking how they can support you. If you re working with a nonprofit legal service provider, for example, do they have guidelines outlining the task at hand? Briefs they ve filed for related matters? A book about doing adoptions in your state? What suggestions do you have for young attorneys who may be hesitant to get involved in pro bono activities because they feel they lack expertise? That s how I felt at first so know that you re not alone! I would get s through work with lists of pro bono assignments, read through the options, and think to myself, gosh, I ve never done a domestic abuse case. It can be intimidating to jump into an area of law you feel you know nothing about. I ve found, though, that others are particularly willing to share their expertise when they know it s for a pro bono project. Also, there are all kinds of nonprofit legal organizations, like PILCOP, standing ready to help. On top of helpful resource guides, these organizations often have people with the experience you might feel you lack. For example, some organizations focus on adoption cases. They have people who know the process you might be there to do the heavy lifting, but they ll walk with you every step of the way. Finally, I ll note that I m always pleasantly surprised by how supportive the courts are. Once, I was stuck on a question about a name change in an adoption case. I ended up calling the court, and the clerk seemed happy to help. Obviously this shouldn t be a starting point in your research, but sometimes it doesn t hurt to reach out. Aside from time constraints, what is the biggest challenge you face in your pro bono work? Really, the scare factor I mentioned earlier. Feeling intimidated, not knowing where to start, worrying you might make a mistake those are big obstacles. For young attorneys in particular, I ll point out that these challenges can be opportunities. You might be given more responsibility than you would otherwise get as a junior associate. Through the Merion case, for example, several junior associates at DLA Piper got experience handling depositions. Pro bono work can be a great way to stand out at your firm. Do you have any Do s and Don ts when agreeing to pro bono representation? Treat your pro bono work the same way you treat any billable matter. Don t let the project get lost on your desk. Give it the same attention, time, and respect as your other work. Whoever you re representing deserves that level of service. Remember that anyone and everyone can affect your reputation. And don t take your pro bono clients for granted. Yes, you are helping them but they are giving you the opportunity to serve. You never know: the pro bono matter might turn into a headline-grabbing case; you might be dealing with a sensitive community issue; or the case could set precedent that will be followed in decades to come. * More information about Blunt v. Lower Merion School District and the two related cases is available at The summary judgment ruling granted for the defendant in Blunt v. Lower Merion School District, 826 F. Supp. 2d 749 (E.D. Pa. 2011) is before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Lesli C. Esposito is a partner at DLA Piper in Philadelphia, PA, where her practice focuses on complex commercial litigation and government investigations, concentrating in the fields of antitrust and consumer protection. She represents a wide range of corporations, as well as individuals, as both plaintiffs and defendants. Ms. Esposito has extensive experience litigating antitrust and consumer protection matters in both federal and state courts, as well as representing parties in class actions. She also has extensive experience representing clients in antitrust and consumer protection government investigations, including investigations conducted by the Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration and state Attorneys General. Following a federal clerkship, Ms. Esposito began her private practice in Washington, DC, at a law firm that concentrates on plaintiffs class actions. There, she was a member of the complex litigation practice group, focusing on antitrust and consumer protection cases. She litigated a variety of cases involving price fixing, monopolization, and conspiracy allegations in both federal and state courts, as well as before the European Commission. Ms. Esposito then joined the Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Competition. As a Lead Attorney at the FTC, she conducted investigations of proposed mergers and acquisitions and litigated consummated mergers, in the oil and gas, refining, chemical, and computer software industries. Ms. Esposito graduated from Case Western Reserve University, School of Law and received her B.A. from Boston College. 17

20 Amy Sanders is an associate at Bass Berry & Sims PLC in Nashville, TN. She focuses on operational, regulatory and transactional work for health care providers ranging from hospitals and urgent care centers to home health providers and hospice. Before joining the firm s health care group, Ms. Sanders gained experience at the Tennessee Department of Health and Vanderbilt University s Center for Patient and Professional Advocacy. She earned her law degree from Vanderbilt University. Ms. Sanders attended Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario and received an Ontario College Graduate Certificate in Journalism: New Media and attended The University of Western Ontario where she received a B.A. in Media, Information and Technoculture. 18


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