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Verizon honored for in-house pro bono

WASHINGTON D.C. – The legal department of Verizon Communications Inc. was honored Sept. 22 with a Community Service Award, presented by the Washington Metropolitan Area Corporate Counsel Association at its 7th annual awards program at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C.

Under the leadership of General Counsel Randal Milch and Associate General Counsel John Frantz, Verizon has developed a thriving pro bono program that has more than one-half of Verizon’s Northern Virginia in-house lawyers participating, some in multiple roles.

Verizon also helped lead the effort to persuade the Supreme Court of Virginia to change its rules to make it easier for corporate counsel who are not licensed in Virginia to provide pro bono services.

The Virginia high court eased restrictions for in-house counsel last April, and Verizon’s program has flourished.

A sampling of Verizon lawyers’ service includes participation in Street Law’s Diversity Pipeline Program and teaching sessions at J.E.B. Stuart High School in Falls Church, Va. Contacts with the high school students led in-house lawyers to begin working with high school juniors and seniors to help them identify and apply to colleges, and to offer a variety of workshops with practical pointers for potential college students.

Verizon lawyers also have worked with immigrant survivors of domestic violence to secure immigration status and partnered with the National Veterans Legal Services Program to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder apply for special benefits. Verizon’s participation in the Wills on Wheels clinic program of the Fairfax County Bar Association would not have been allowed under the VSB’s old pro bono rules. This service helps elderly clients draft end-of-life documents.

Verizon has about 100 lawyers in its Arlington and Ashburn offices, and the company has established a pro bono program across 20 states and the District of Columbia. In 2010, 243 members of Verizon’s legal department participated in pro bono, and nearly that many lawyers already have logged pro bono hours for 2011.

WMACCA also presented a 2011 Community Service Award to Patrick McGlone, vice president and Acting General Counsel for Ullico.

The legal department of Arlington-based AES Corporation, led by executive vice president and General Counsel Brian Miller, was named Outstanding Large Law Department.

Joseph C. Figini, senior vice president and General Counsel of CGI Technologies and Solutions Inc., in Vienna, won the award for Outstanding In-House Counsel.

Virginia State Bar President George W. Shanks served as a judge for this year’s WMACCA awards.

WMACCA award winners and association officials pictured above are (L-R) WMACCA President Stephen Dwyer; Brian Miller, GC of AES; Fred Krebs, Career Achievement Award; Diane Ennist, GC of Carey International’s Outstanding Small Legal Department; Anne Milem, Associate GC at Sallie Mae Inc. and Chair of the Awards; Stephanie Tsacoumis, GC of Georgetown University, Outstanding Chief Legal Officer; John Frantz, Associate GC of Verizon Communications; Patrick McGlone, GC of Ullico; and Joseph Figini, GC at CGI.

By Deborah Elkins

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