To The Readers of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:
I'm delighted to have been given the opportunity to address the readers of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel in this issue, focusing on developments in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. I am privileged to represent the almost 400 members of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel, serving as president of the chapter in 2011.
The board of the western Pennsylvania chapter is drawn from a cross-section of our membership, including representatives of large corporate legal departments, such as my own at Alcoa, those from medium-sized departments, as well as several people who are truly "one-man bands," handling or managing any legal matter that presents itself on any given day. This diversity - of department size, of degree of specialization, of experience - is truly the strength of our chapter, as I believe it is for all ACC chapters.
As a board, we strive to meet the needs of our members, with a particular focus on delivering relevant, high-quality and timely CLE programs, as Pennsylvania has mandated 12 credit hours (including at least one in legal ethics) for a lawyer to maintain his or her license to practice. Over the past year, we have had a number of prominent law firms in the area sponsor our programs and make available their leading experts in fields as wide-ranging as employment law, commercial law, dispute resolution, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate governance. These programs give our members the chance to stay up (or catch up) on recent developments in areas of the law that are important to their practice or their professional development.
We are also trying to provide opportunities - particularly for those in smaller shops that may not have a formal program - for our members to participate in pro bono activities. We are very fortunate that western Pennsylvania has a very vibrant pro bono legal community, including the Neighborhood Legal Services Association (NLSA), on whose board I serve, and to which the chapter just made a $20,000 dollar contribution in support their mission of providing free legal services to the indigent and elderly in the area; the Pro Bono Center of the Allegheny County Bar Foundation, which serves as a clearinghouse matching interested volunteer attorneys, paralegals and administrative professionals with programs to provide legal representation on matters ranging from governmental benefits to landlord-tenant disputes to predatory lending practices to family law matters involving protection from abuse and child custody; and the Pittsburgh Pro Bono Partnership, which works in cooperation with the Pro Bono Center and NLSA to match in-house corporate attorneys with practitioners from the private bar (or "outhouse" attorneys, as we sometimes refer to them) to staff walk-in community legal clinics and provide other targeted legal advice. To this end, we recently sponsored the Pro Bono Wills training program, taught by one of the preeminent practitioners in all of Pennsylvania, preparing another wave of volunteer attorneys to provide this vital service to those who cannot afford representation.
I am very proud of the initiatives my fellow chapter board members have taken to make the chapter relevant to the local corporate legal community and because of the commitment they have shown, in word, deed, time and money to matters pro bono publico.I urge each of you to dig into your hearts, wallets and pocketbooks, and, most importantly, into that scarcest of all our resources, your time, to provide support in your own community.