PBI Honors the Legal Department of Exelon Corporation for Work and Leadership in Pro Bono

Tuesday, March 28, 2017 - 17:17

Pro Bono Institute (PBI) has selected the legal department of Exelon Corporation as the recipient of its 2017 Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award for its pro bono efforts and leadership within the legal community to increase pro bono legal services and improve access to justice. The award was presented at PBI’s Annual Conference Reception at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., on March 9.

Exelon, a charter signatory to the CPBO Challenge® initiative, began its formal pro bono efforts 15 years ago when it adopted a policy encouraging pro bono engagement by legal department staff. At the time, pro bono was still a relatively new endeavor for in-house departments. Since then, the program has grown under the support and example of each of former general counsel Randall Mehrberg, William Von Hoene, Andrea Zopp and Darryl Bradford, as well as current Senior Vice President and General Counsel Thomas O’Neill. As a result, Exelon has developed programs that involve almost all of its more than 100 attorneys and nearly as many legal department staff in pro bono.

“At Exelon, we recognize the importance of supporting the communities we serve, beyond delivering clean, affordable and reliable energy. Many families don’t have access to legal services, and this is one way we can help address a critical, unmet need in our communities,” O’Neill said. “It is an honor to be recognized by Pro Bono Institute, an organization that provides so much support to in-house legal departments and law firms alike in building, enhancing and transforming their pro bono programs.”

Led by dedicated local pro bono leaders, members of the Exelon legal department are engaged in matters ranging from drafting estate planning documents for first responders to retirement preparation for low-income seniors. Pro bono has become an integral part of the culture and is included in the Exelon legal department’s annual all-hands meetings, held in each office and staffed by the general counsel.

Exelon’s influence has had an impact well beyond its volunteers and the clients they assist. Exelon not only leads by example, but its pro bono team has worked to expand in-house counsel engagement in pro bono by mentoring in-house pro bono leaders and inviting other legal departments to join their pro bono efforts. In addition, Exelon recognizes its position of influence and has incorporated pro bono into its evaluation of outside counsel, who are frequent partners in the effort to increase access to justice.

“The legal department at Exelon exemplifies the best of pro bono, promoting broad participation within their department and also inviting partners outside their organization to join them in providing pro bono,” PBI President and CEO Eve Runyon said. “Their proactive and collaborative approach to improving access to justice is admirable.”

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