Exelon In-House Team Gets ABA Pro Bono Award
Note: This story has been updated.
The American Bar Association recognized the pro bono efforts of Exelon Corporation by giving the annual Pro Bono Publico Award to the energy company’s legal department. It is the first time that the award has been given to an in-house legal team since 2003.
The legal department at Exelon, which was started in 2002, has been working over the last decade to provide access to legal services to those who may not be able to afford them. Last year, the company’s 120-person department had approximately 105 of its members participate in pro bono efforts, logging over 1,100 hours of work focused on the three major cities the company serves: Chicago, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.
“From an Exelon viewpoint, we want our communities to be successful, diverse, and vibrant,” says Darryl Bradford, general counsel of Exelon, “because we as a company can only succeed if the community we serve is also successful,”
The company has sponsored several free legal clinics as part of its efforts, including clinics to help the homeless obtain birth certificates, help refugees to obtain lawful permanent resident status, and provide wills, living wills, and powers of attorney to thousands of first responders. The company has also carried out legal work on behalf of nonprofits, taught students about the legal profession, represented minors in guardianship matters, assisted the elderly with end-of-life documents, and partnered with law firm Sidley Austin to represent an Alabama death-row inmate.
In a statement, the ABA emphasized the efforts that Exelon made to include non-lawyers in its pro bono efforts. According to Bradford, the work the firm did with the Wills for Heroes Program, which provided wills to first responders, was largely organized by an employee in the department without a law degree, and other members of the department have helped with filing and interviews.
“It is a special obligation for lawyers who have been given the privilege to practice law to practice pro bono,” Bradford says. "There are certain things that you can't do or perform without a law degree, and they can't get done without the efforts of a lot of people."
In addition to Exelon, three lawyers and one law firm also received the award from the ABA: Jeffrey Trachtman of New York, Patricia Less of Las Vegas, and Bruc Blackwell of Orlando, Florida; and law firm Leonard, Street and Deinard of Minneapolis.
“These award recipients fulfill this mission through their dedication to pro bono work. They are outstanding examples of how lawyers can have meaningful and lasting effects on their communities,” ABA President Laurel Bellows said in the statement.
The recipients will be formally recognized at a luncheon on August 12 during the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco.