Skadden Arps is increasing its pro bono efforts and presence in the Washington D.C. area by teaming up with LivingSocial, Northrop Grumman and Cisco Systems, and also local legal aid groups for a pro-bono program for low-income D.C. residents. The initiative, named the Impact Project is a first for Skadden to do pro-bono in collaboration with other companies and legal aid organizations. The project is the idea of Fred Goldberg, a partner in Skadden’s tax group, who earlier this year made the proposal to work along with experts from legal aid organizations in the law firm’s pro bono efforts.
As reported by the Washington Post on Monday, the local legal-aid groups include Children’s Law Center, Legal Aid Society of D.C., and Bread for the City.
The Impact Project would have three verticals – domestic violence, guardianship (child custody), and housing. Participants would be trained by staff attorneys from the legal aid organizations, and Skadden would also provide an intranet system with reference materials including legal documents and training manuals and guidelines. All of Skadden’s attorneys in D.C. can join the program, as also the in-house attorneys from the three companies who are collaborating in the project.
Currently Northrop has about 150 attorneys on its legal team in Falls Church, while LivingSocial and Cisco have 12 and 20 attorneys respectively.
Cliff Sloan, the Skadden partner coordinating the project, was previously general counsel for Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive and was also the publisher of Slate, which is owned by The Washington Post. Sloan said, “The whole effort is about bringing critical mass to these big problems … Instead of bowling alone, we could make a major impact by bringing lawyers together in a concerted effort.”
The effort is commendable, and if it works, may show a more positive way of law firms engaging in pro bono efforts while drawing on the expertise of those whose lives are given to pro bono work.