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Spotlight on the Bloomberg Legal & Compliance Department’s Pro Bono Service

Spotlight on the Bloomberg Legal & Compliance Department’s Pro Bono Service

Published 02-27-24

Submitted by Bloomberg

Originally published on

Philanthropy is at the heart of Bloomberg, and the Legal & Compliance Department’s mission is no different. The Department launched the Bloomberg Legal & Compliance Pro Bono Program in 2016 as a way for its attorney, compliance, operations and negotiation teams to use their knowledge, time and expertise to give back to underserved communities around the globe. In close partnership with Corporate Philanthropy, the Department built strong relationships with not-for profits, law firms, corporate legal departments and other organizations committed to service, and developed a pro bono program to help marginalized communities navigate legal issues and processes for complex matters related to asylum, veteran benefits, immigration, domestic violence, transgender name change petitions, and small business management.

“We measure our success in lives permanently changed for the better,” said Bloomberg General Counsel David Levine. “Helping those in need is a fundamental obligation of legal professionals, and our commitment to pro bono work is firmly established in the company’s culture.”

As the Department reflects upon the impact it has had over the last eight years, it is clear that service and community outreach has become embedded in the team’s culture. Since the launch of the program, 95% of the Department globally has contributed to a total of more than 30,000 hours of pro bono work. The strength of the Program is evidence of the Department’s desire and ability to collaborate, and to use its knowledge and resources to serve others effectively and efficiently.

“David Levine has fostered an environment that encourages our team to use its time and skills to work on pro bono matters. The steadfast commitment of our colleagues – volunteering over 4,900 hours last year and 5,000 hours in 2020 during the pandemic – is a true testament to their dedication and passion for this work. Leading the pro bono program has been one of the highlights of my professional career,” said Kim Rutan, Global Head of the Program.

Global reach, local impact

What began with a handful of clinical programs in the United States has grown into more than 100 unique pro bono opportunities across the Americas, APAC, and EMEA regions in collaboration with non-profit partners around the world.

In the U.S., for example, asylum seekers often face a catch-22: the asylum process is nearly impossible to navigate without the help of a legal professional, but lawyers are usually expensive and in limited supply. The Program in the U.S. has placed a strong emphasis on working with asylum seekers and providing legal aid throughout the process.

One recent asylum seeker who worked with the Program shared his story:

“Bloomberg made me feel comfortable, and I felt that they cared,” Mohammed said of his Bloomberg Legal & Compliance team. “The lawyer actually picked me up from my home and drove me to the interview site in Long Island. I went through a very dark time, and they gave me hope.”

While the process was lengthy, his case was successful and Mohammed was ultimately granted asylum in 2018. “It feels really good not to be scared anymore of being hurt and not being able to get help,” Mohammed said. “It wasn’t an easy journey, but having this kind of support, it means a lot.”

In the Americas, the Legal & Compliance team also works with: transgender individuals on legal name change petitions; immigrants applying for naturalization and individuals applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); low-income, immigrant domestic violence survivors seeking legal status through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) petitions; individuals seeking assistance on family law matters (including orders of protection for survivors of domestic violence); low income New Yorkers on tax return preparation; and individuals who claim to have been wrongly convicted and are seeking exoneration.

In EMEA, the team mentors law and compliance students, assists the London Community Response Fund (LCRF) in reviewing grant applications, supervises Queen Mary University of London LLM students’ legal clinics, and provides legal advice on a wide range of issues to clean-technology and sustainability focused startups.

In APAC, the team works with artists and freelancers to develop negotiation skills, researches banking access for refugees without visa status, and mentors law students. The team also assisted a non-governmental organization in structuring and maintaining refugee pro bono projects and leveraged their professional skills and experience to provide training for advocates and applicants seeking asylum.

A source of pride

Pro bono work has become a major source of pride for members of the Department, and for members of the Bloomberg community at large. Working for a company where philanthropy and service are integral parts of the culture helps employees develop leadership skills by building relationships with pro bono partners and managing volunteers within their respective departments.

Since 2020, this has meant finding opportunities to support those hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, in April 2020, as the United States was locking down, the Pro Bono Committee collaborated with the City Bar Justice Center on their small business clinic and legal hotline to provide limited-scope consultations to address COVID-19 related concerns.

“When the pandemic hit [in 2020], the City Bar Justice Center quickly mobilized to roll out three COVID response pro bono projects to assist New Yorkers with pressing legal needs. Many Justice Center pro bono partners answered our call for assistance, but Bloomberg’s response was among those that stood out, with a number of its lawyers responding to and assisting with both our small business assistance initiative and expanded Legal Hotline project – on top of continuing work with our existing pro bono projects,” said Kurt Denk, Executive Director of the City Bar Justice Center. “Bloomberg’s commitment to pro bono is real, sustained, and makes a difference in the lives of countless New Yorkers in need.”

As the Department celebrates the program’s fifth year, the Pro Bono Committee is already looking ahead for new ways that members of the Department can put their expertise to work to benefit communities where our employees live and work. The Department’s commitment to pro bono has never been stronger and it is continuing to make positive and lasting changes that will benefit individuals and organizations who cannot afford legal counsel.

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