Volunteerism has always been a big part of my professional life. In fact, one of my very first cases was representing a young woman in a pro bono immigration matter. The opportunity to litigate a case before a judge was a rare one for a new attorney, but the great professional experience I gained pales in comparison to the impact it had on the young woman’s life. Pro bono work – in this case, legal representation provided at no cost to those who would not otherwise have access to legal counsel – is a win-win. For those needing representation, it provides access to professional legal advice or guidance. For corporate attorneys like me, it’s an opportunity to broaden our professional skills and knowledge, and see the impact of our work on individuals, small businesses, and the communities where we live and work.

When I began my career at PNC, I discovered that many of my co-workers in the Legal Department were also passionate about pro bono work. Our volunteerism flourished when, under the leadership of then-new General Counsel Greg Jordan, our pro bono program was launched. Driven by the enthusiasm of our chief counsel for asset recovery, Mark Gittelman, PNC established a Pro Bono Council to encourage volunteer efforts and gauge suitability for proposed projects. The Council also came up with the idea to set aside a specific week each year for pro bono work; this year marks the 11th anniversary of that effort.

In the intervening years, PNC’s commitment to pro bono work, combined with the leadership of Greg, Mark, and the Pro Bono Institute, became the impetus for creating Financial Institution Pro Bono Day – an annual, global project, which combined more than 1,100 in-house counsel volunteers to serve more than 1,000 clients in 2022. In addition, the program provides a day of volunteer training to develop new resources for nonprofits and NGOs and create a ripple effect of impact. Today, I’m particularly proud of the fact that our partnership in helping to establish this day of service has become a model for similar work in other industries.

While many organizations opt to focus their pro bono efforts on a small number of “signature” projects or topics, PNC’s pro bono efforts have a different focus: Follow your bliss. With this in mind, participating attorneys provide pro bono services to dozens of unique organizations and causes, based on their interests and abilities.  For example, advocating for abused, neglected, and at-risk children through local service agencies; providing legal expertise to facilitate pairing of medical service dogs with military veterans; helping protect aspiring artists’ intellectual property; reviewing cases to correct wrongful convictions; as well as immigration cases, community homeless assistance and wills clinics, and countless others.     

It’s a source of both pleasure and pride for me to work with a team of dedicated professionals who are so eager to put their professional skills to work for those who need it most. I’m particularly gratified to work for a company that not only provides the opportunity for us to do that work, but unwaveringly supports our efforts to serve our communities.