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Daily CSR
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Bloomberg Pro Bono: Making a Difference in COVID-19 Relief Efforts and Beyond


Philanthropy lies at the core of Bloomberg's values, and this commitment extends to the Legal & Compliance Department. In 2016, the Department initiated the Bloomberg Legal & Compliance Pro Bono Program, aiming to leverage the skills and expertise of its attorneys, compliance officers, operations staff, and negotiators to support underserved communities globally.

Collaborating closely with Corporate Philanthropy, the Department established strong partnerships with non-profit organizations, law firms, corporate legal departments, and similar entities dedicated to community service. Through this initiative, the Department crafted a pro bono program aimed at aiding marginalized communities in navigating various legal challenges, including but not limited 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.”

Looking back on the past eight years, the Department recognizes the significant influence it has had, with a noticeable integration of service and community engagement into the team's ethos. Since the inception of the program, an impressive 95% of the Department's members worldwide have participated, collectively contributing over 30,000 hours of pro bono work. The success of the Program underscores the Department's commitment and capacity for collaboration, utilizing its expertise and resources to serve others with effectiveness and efficiency.

“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.

Having started with a few clinical initiatives in the United States, our pro bono efforts have expanded significantly, now offering over 100 distinct opportunities across the Americas, APAC, and EMEA regions, thanks to collaborations with non-profit organizations globally. In the United States, a notable example is the challenge faced by asylum seekers who confront a catch-22 situation: navigating the asylum process is extremely difficult without legal assistance, yet legal professionals are often costly and scarce. To address this, our U.S. Program prioritizes supporting asylum seekers by offering crucial legal aid throughout their journey.

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.”

Though the journey was arduous, Mohammed's case eventually led to a successful asylum grant in 2018. Reflecting on his experience, Mohammed expressed relief, stating, "It feels really good not to be scared anymore of being hurt and not being able to get help. It wasn’t an easy journey, but having this kind of support, it means a lot." 

In the Americas, the Legal & Compliance team extends support to various marginalized groups, including transgender individuals seeking legal name changes, immigrants pursuing naturalization and DACA status, low-income immigrant survivors of domestic violence seeking legal status through VAWA petitions, individuals in need of family law assistance (such as orders of protection for domestic violence survivors), low-income New Yorkers requiring tax return preparation aid, and individuals claiming wrongful conviction and seeking exoneration. 

In EMEA, the team engages in mentoring law and compliance students, aids the London Community Response Fund (LCRF) in reviewing grant applications, supervises legal clinics for Queen Mary University of London LLM students, and provides legal counsel on various issues to startups focusing on clean technology and sustainability. 

In APAC, the team collaborates with artists and freelancers to enhance negotiation skills, conducts research on banking access for refugees lacking visa status, and mentors law students. Additionally, they assist a non-governmental organization in structuring and managing refugee pro bono projects, utilizing their expertise to offer training for advocates and asylum applicants. 

Pro bono endeavors have evolved into a significant source of pride for Department members and the broader Bloomberg community. Working within a company culture that prioritizes philanthropy and service not only fosters leadership skills but also facilitates the development of relationships with pro bono partners and the management of volunteers within their departments.

Since 2020, our focus has been on identifying avenues to aid those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, in April 2020, amid the United States' lockdown, the Pro Bono Committee collaborated with the City Bar Justice Center on their small business clinic and legal hotline. This partnership aimed to offer limited-scope consultations to address concerns arising from the pandemic. 

Reflecting on this collaboration, Kurt Denk, Executive Director of the City Bar Justice Center, stated, "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."

Denk emphasized Bloomberg's genuine and sustained commitment to pro bono work, highlighting its tangible impact on the lives of numerous New Yorkers in need. 

As the Department commemorates the fifth year of the program, the Pro Bono Committee is already exploring fresh avenues for leveraging the expertise of its members to support communities where our employees reside and operate. The Department's dedication to pro bono work has never been stronger, driving ongoing positive and enduring changes that benefit individuals and organizations unable to afford legal representation.