2020 Award Recipient: Comcast NBCUniversal
Comcast NBCUniversal's law department has made exceptional contributions to the Philadelphia community through its Pro Bono Program. Launched in 2016, the program connects the company's in-house legal department with a variety of pro bono opportunities. Members of Comcast’s law department partner with many of the Bar Foundation's nonprofit partner grantees and other nonprofits, to serve members of the community most in need. In the program's first year, more than half of Comcast's lawyers participated, logging over 400 hours of pro bono service. In 2019, 85 percent of Comcast's lawyers participated, providing an estimated 1,000 hours of pro bono service.
Prior to the launch of the formal program, members of the Comcast law department already were actively involved in Philadelphia's pro bono community. In 2013, in partnership with Ballard Spahr and the Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP), Comcast hosted bi-monthly legal clinics at the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission to assist Philadelphians experiencing homelessness with legal issues related to obtaining birth certificates, Social Security, and green card replacement. The next year, Comcast NBCUniversal partnered with Ballard Spahr and HAP to launch the SSI, Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) Initiative in response to the most pressing needs encountered at these legal clinics.
Recent efforts have included hosting, staffing, and sponsoring various clinics such as citizenship clinics in partnership with HIAS-PA, Duane Morris, and Lutheran Settlement House, birth certificate clinics for homeless individuals in partnership with HAP, and planning document clinics for disabled individuals in partnership with the Legal Clinic for the Disabled. Additionally, Comcast’s Pro Bono Program supports individual client work related to protecting the rights of children and seniors in partnership with the Support Center for Child Advocates and the SeniorLAW Center. Comcast NBCUniversal lawyers have also participated in the SeniorLAW Center and Blank Rome's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service legal clinics, helping low-income seniors create the life-planning documents that they critically need.
Comcast's Pro Bono Program has taken innovative approaches to expand pro bono participation, including hosting legal clinics at the Comcast Center and executing events throughout National Pro Bono Week. The company’s law department leadership prioritizes and actively promotes pro bono service. Amid the global pandemic, Comcast NBCUniversal continues to encourage and enable pro bono service, including offering virtual trainings and supporting virtual-based representations. Recent efforts have included preparing attorneys and staff to assist low-income residents with U.S. Citizenship and Immigrant Services applications, partnerships with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project and Pennsylvania Lawyers for Social Equity and working with the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund.
"In the course of our history, the Homeless Advocacy Project has assisted many corporate legal departments in launching pro bono programs, but we have never worked with a company as purposeful and directed as Comcast. In short, Comcast has embraced pro bono with the same boldness and gumption that we have come to expect from all of its endeavors." - Marsha Cohen, Homeless Advocacy Project
"Comcast attorney's warm enthusiasm for helping and flexible patience to continue their greatly needed assistance has shown them to be an "above and beyond" pro bono partner in these challenging times. We are so grateful for all of the support that they have provided and continue to provide to our potential new American neighbors!" - Cathryn Miller-Wilson, HIAS Pennsylvania
"What sets Comcast apart is not just it's extremely active participation in many established pro bono programs around the city, but its innovative thinking and approach to addressing unmet legal needs." - John J. O'Brien, Morgan Lewis