Denver Bar Association
April 2009
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Corporate counsel hungers for pro bono at lunchtime

by Leslie Kelly

These days, lunchtime at the Qwest Law Department is more than just soup and sandwiches.

The department’s Pro Bono Committee started offering lunchtime training sessions to help its lawyers and staff feel more comfortable participating in Qwest’s pro bono programs.

It’s worked. More volunteers attend the lunchtime training sessions. Therefore, more attorneys can jump in and help with Qwest’s pro bono programs in areas such as landlord/tenant, probate and family law.

As for the trainers, they come from within Qwest or from outside, depending on the topic.

"We’ve had great reception and support from lawyers in the community," said Christie Searls, chair of the Qwest Pro Bono Committee.

For example, Karen Brody of Lowe, Fell & Skogg conducted a recent session on landlord/tenant law.

"Karen is so knowledgeable — it was great that she took the time to help us learn more about this popular topic," said Chris Sullivan, a lawyer in the Qwest litigation group.

Another popular session on probate law was conducted by Miranda K. Hawkins of Goddard & Goddard and Marianne Hayes of Isaacson Rosenbaum, formerly of Goddard & Goddard.

"We were happy to provide training to the Qwest Law Department. Guiding an individual through a probate issue during a time of grief and uncertainty can be very rewarding," Hayes said. "We hope our training session will help both Qwest lawyers and their pro bono clients get the most out of their experience together."

___________________________________________

"Guiding an individual through a probate
issue during a time of grief and uncertainty
can be very rewarding."

-Marianne Hayes, on training corporate counsel for
pro bono work

_________________________________________

The training program is part of the Qwest committee’s larger effort to make pro bono work more accessible and manageable for people working in-house. Qwest partners with agencies like the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, Colorado Legal Services and the Colorado Bar Association to staff legal clinics for those in need.

"Our pro bono program is designed to be user-friendly and provide lots of opportunities for meaningful participation," Searls said. "And the training sessions give our volunteers the extra confidence they need to get involved."

The committee plans to offer at least one training session per quarter — with CLE credits.

"But given the level of enthusiasm we’ve seen, we may offer more," Searls said.

Qwest invites participation of its pro bono partners from outside its law department, as well as former colleagues.

For more information on the program, contact Christie Searls at (303) 383-6609.

Qwest attorneys chow down during a lunchtime pro bono training session. Moving the sessions to the middle of the day boosts volunteer attorney participation, says Qwest counsel.


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