The Proskauer corporate social responsibility and pro bono blog

Bridging Military Skills into Corporate Careers: Veterans Transition to the Private Sector with Mentoring from Proskauer

This November, Proskauer is celebrating its year-round commitment to veterans by announcing a new partnership with American Corporate Partners (ACP), the nation’s leading veteran mentoring program for service members transitioning to corporate careers.

Ten senior partners and executives at Proskauer were selected to provide career guidance and personalized, one-on-one mentorships for post-9/11 service members moving into the private sector. ACP’s mentoring program helps high-performing returning veterans build a successful second career post-military service. Veterans are mentored on topics ranging from building civilian-friendly résumés, networking, leadership skills and work-life balance.

The mentoring program and partnership with ACP is a part of Proskauer’s broader commitment to veterans. “Proskauer has always been committed to removing barriers to employment for veterans – working with ACP is a natural progression in our work.” said Los Angeles partner, Navy veteran and ACP mentor, Colleen Hart.

Colleen decided to become a mentor because she wanted to help fellow veterans make the transition into the corporate world. “Service members transitioning out of the armed services face many challenges. Civilian business customs and language can be very different from the service. It’s important for veterans to bridge their military skills and knowledge into the corporate world.”

Joanne Ollman, Proskauer’s Chief Professional Resources Officer, was paired with a veteran mentee this summer. “This is the least I can do to assist those service members who want to enter the private sector. I can use my background as a senior human resources professional to guide my mentee through the complicated journey of finding a position that matches her skill set and experience with the right opportunity. We have spent the last month creating a résumé that reflects not only what she has done in the past but what she is capable of doing in the future. I am confident that she will find something that will challenge her and be ‘value added’ to her employer. I am thrilled to be part of her journey.”

Colleen has also built a strong relationship with her mentee. “My mentee is a retired Command Master Chief who served 30 years in the Navy. He’s very skilled and experienced but he’s new to the corporate world. We share our stories about transitioning out of the military and I assist with networking. My mentee hopes to have a second career in human resources and I have no doubt he’ll be a successful corporate H.R. manager someday.”

About American Corporate Partners (ACP):

ACP is a national nonprofit organization founded in 2008 to address veterans’ career transition needs through two free programs: a nationwide veteran mentoring program and an online network, ACP AdvisorNet, offering career, employment and small business advice through a robust business community and Q&A platform.  For more information visit: https://www.acp-usa.org/

Veterans Day Spotlight: Securing Benefits for Disabled Vets

On October 22nd, Proskauer associates Dan Nelson and Jin Joo received the New York City Bar Justice Center’s 2018 Jeremy G. Epstein Award for Pro Bono Service.  Since November 2017, Dan and Jin have coordinated Proskauer’s involvement in the Justice Center’s Veterans Assistance Project (VAP).  These two are no strangers to public service.  In addition to their current pro bono work, they both previously served with distinction in the military.  Dan served in the U.S. Army infantry from 2000 to 2008, during which time he deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan; and Jin served in the U.S. Air Force as a communications officer for four years, and was deployed to Iraq in 2005.

Through VAP we provide veterans with legal assistance on claims for compensation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The veterans we assist have disabilities arising from injuries sustained during their time in service, and are of limited means. These pro bono matters are important and impactful. At the firm, these are among the most popular cases to take, due to the challenging and fulfilling nature of the work.  Proskauer’s involvement in VAP has grown rapidly thanks in large part to a successful partnership with Bloomberg L.P.’s legal department.  We have represented a total of 45 veteran clients thus far with the help of approximately 30 Bloomberg and 70 Proskauer lawyers, paralegals and staff. Continue Reading

Protecting the Right to Vote

On November 5th and 6th, Proskauer will host over 150 volunteer lawyers in its New York office to support election protection efforts with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Responsible for the largest non-partisan voter protection endeavor in the country, the Lawyers’ Committee is dedicated to ensuring that all voters—regardless of political belief or affiliation—have an equal opportunity to participate in the political process. Every election season, Proskauer runs one of the call centers, helping to field a portion of the many thousands of phone calls received by the Election Protection hotline: 866-Our-Vote.

The issues raised during these calls run the gamut. One voter might call in to ask where their polling place is located, while someone else might be having trouble with a broken voting machine. Another might want to know if they can wear a political t-shirt to the polls, while still another might report that their polling place has closed earlier than its legally mandated hours.

Call center volunteers answer all questions to the best of their ability and log the calls in a central database, helping to create a record of common problems that can be addressed. When notified of issues like closed polling places or broken machines, call center volunteers inform volunteers in the field who are able to take immediate action, traveling to polling places and working with local officials to ensure such problems are resolved.

This year, Proskauer’s call center will field calls from Arkansas, Ohio, Tennessee, and South Carolina, with volunteers joining us not only from the firm, but also from a number of corporate clients including A+E Networks, Bloomberg LP and Viacom. To prepare, volunteers attend trainings at Proskauer and online, review materials prepared by the firm with information specific to each state, and learn how to use the database to log calls. Then, over two days, eight different shifts, 28 hours of calls, and countless cups of coffee, call center volunteers get to work protecting one of the most fundamental pillars of our democracy.

The Time Is Now for an Independent Immigration Court

Recent events have created an urgent need for an independent Immigration Court separate from the Department of Justice.  On October 17, Proskauer hosted a panel discussion in its New York office co-sponsored by Sanctuary for Families, the New York Immigration Coalition, and the Federal Bar Association’s Immigration Law Section entitled, “Lives in the Balance: Eviscerating Asylum Protection for Victims of Gender Violence.”  The speakers included The Hon. Carolyn Maloney, U.S. Representative from New York’s 12th Congressional District, the Hon. Amiena Khan, Executive Vice President, National Association of Immigration Judges, Lori Adams, Director, Immigration Intervention Project at Sanctuary for Families, and Lisa Koenig, a Partner at Fragomen.

The immigration lawyers on the panel provided different perspectives on Matter of A-B, a consequential decision from last summer where the Attorney General purported to overrule Immigration Court precedent, and thereby limit the availability of domestic violence as a basis for asylum.  Aside from placing the law on asylum in flux, the AG’s action raises the important question of how a cabinet-level, executive branch official could claim the authority to reverse a court’s decision.     Continue Reading

What is Menstrual Equity? Her Justice Advocates for Women’s Rights

Menstrual equity. This term is likely one that you’ve never heard before. I hadn’t either, until I attended a discussion hosted by Her Justice, a non-profit that recruits caring, talented attorneys from New York City’s law firms, including Proskauer, to provide free legal assistance in the areas of family, divorce and immigration law to women living in poverty, most of whom are victims of domestic violence.

At this discussion, Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, Vice President for Development and Democracy Fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, spoke about her advocacy efforts surrounding menstrual equity, including legislation and policies that ensure menstrual products are affordable and available for those who need them. While this topic impacts all women in some way, it most significantly affects incarcerated, homeless, or low-income women and girls. Not only is menstrual equity a hygiene and public health issue, but women and girls often have to compromise their productivity to miss work and school because they cannot afford basic necessities. Weiss-Wolf has worked to increase access to menstrual products through, but not limited to, the following initiatives:

  • State and Federal Tax Efforts

Most states impose sales taxes, and many of these states exempt health and personal care items from such tax, but only a handful include menstrual products in such exemption. However, within the last two years, lawmakers in many states have introduced bills to remove what is being dubbed the “tampon tax.” Supporters of this movement argue that menstrual products are a necessity, and should not be subject to any sales tax.

Policy efforts are also underway to push the IRS to amend the tax code so that menstrual products are eligible for reimbursement under flexible spending accounts. Currently, the IRS does not consider tampons or pads medically necessary, despite the fact that the FDA considers such as medical products.

  • Public Accommodations

State and city governments have been active in proposing and passing legislation to achieve menstrual equity. In July 2016, New York City was the first in the nation to pass a legislative package requiring all correction facilities, shelters, and public schools to distribute menstrual products free of charge.

Moreover, on the federal level, in July 2017, Senators Booker and Warren introduced the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act, which among other things, includes a mandate to distribute tampons and pads to inmates.

As Weiss-Wolf has argued, there is stigma surrounding the topic of menstruation, but if you think it about it from a human rights perspective, women and girls should not have to miss work or school, risk their health, or compromise their dignity because they menstruate. The solutions Weiss-Wolf has championed seem entirely sensible, yet society has a long way to go.

This discussion with Weiss-Wolf was part of the Her Justice “Breakfast Briefing” Series, a quarterly conversation for friends, supporters, volunteers and their networks, featuring a diverse array of external influencers who focus on the issues impacting the clients and work of Her Justice.

In addition to seeking support from volunteer attorneys who take on pro bono cases, Her Justice also relies on the support of institutional sponsors and partners.  Not only do I support Her Justice through pro bono work, but I am also a member of their Junior Advisory Board, which is dedicated to expanding the Her Justice network of young professional volunteers and donors.  I encourage my fellow associates at Proskauer to get involved with pro bono cases through Her Justice to help more women and children get the justice they deserve.

To find out more about how you can volunteer with Her Justice, visit their website at http://www.herjustice.org/.

Betsy Plevan Joins The Office of the Appellate Defender’s All Star Bench

In this Q&A, partner Betsy Plevan shares her experience supporting the Office of the Appellate Defender’s First Monday in October Gala fundraiser, where she served as a mock Supreme Court Justice on the All-Star Bench in support of a great cause. The Office of Appellate Defender NYC provides appellate representation to indigent persons convicted of felonies.

Tell us a little about your connection to the Office of the Appellate Defender, and the purpose of the First Monday Gala.

Betsy: The OAD is widely known as one of the leading private non-profit organizations providing legal services to poor people. I’ve had the privilege of working on many pro bono matters dedicated to civil rights throughout my career, and my specific involvement with the OAD dates back 10 years to when I was a recipient of its annual Milton S. Gould Award for Outstanding Oral Advocacy. Continue Reading

Life Balance Foundation Organized by Lehman Brothers Former CFO Erin Callan Montella

Erin Callan Montella was the CFO of Lehman Brothers in the months before it collapsed in 2008.  After leaving Wall Street, marrying and having a daughter, she wrote a memoir, Full Circle, about the balance between work and family.  She and her husband have created a foundation to help practice that philosophy and help new mothers achieve that balance in their own lives.

Under The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, new mothers are allowed a minimum of 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave to care for and bond with their children, but many employers compensate their employees for only a small fraction of that time.  As a result, many low- and moderate-income mothers are forced to return to work early. Continue Reading

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