On Thursday, November 19, the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) presented its 2009 ACC/CPBO Pro Bono award to James Buda, vice president, general counsel and secretary of Caterpillar Inc. The annual pro bono award was given to the entire legal department of Caterpillar. The ACC recognized Caterpillar's corporate counsel for outstanding achievements and dedication to pro bono legal services and projects in the community.
Association of Corporate Counselpresident Frederick J. Krebs commended James Buda and his department for their pro bono programs, stating "You fix problems and help those in need. Well done!"
Mr. Buda and his staff, including Mike Sposato and J. P. Kumar, worked to create a 6 Sigma team to develop a pro bono program.They worked on various projects, including partnering with Prairie State Legal Services to provide debt collection, foreclosure and senior citizen representation to Prairie State's 2,500 low-income clients.Caterpillar also assisted with legal matters for the Center for the Prevention of Abuse in Peoria, a group that helps victims of domestic abuse.
Caterpillar attorneys have also dedicated time to helping first responders obtain wills through a program "Wills for Heroes" and have held clinics on preparing advance services directives. On a statewide level, Caterpillar attorneys were instrumental in rule changes before the Illinois Supreme Court to allow limited corporate practice attorneys to engage in pro bono activities. The court adopted their proposed rule change, thereby increasing the number of attorneys in the state that may dedicate their time and efforts to pro bono endeavors.