February 17, 2015 11:56 AM | Posted by Borden, Lisa | Permalink
Recently, I drove about 300 miles round trip to attend traffic court in a rural Black Belt county in Alabama.

My client is a homeless veteran of the US Army. He served honorably, returned home and worked hard at a relatively low wage job, but unfortunately became involved with drugs and alcohol and his life went off the rails. During his decade long addiction, he got into a fair amount of minor trouble - traffic infractions mostly, including a misdemeanor DUI. He lost his job and became homeless.
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January 2, 2015 3:30 PM | Posted by Borden, Lisa | Permalink

It's a great pleasure for a law firm to have the opportunity to partner with a nonprofit organization to provide pro bono services to both the organization itself and to the community it serves.  These are pro bono relationships we treasure, and that offer fulfilling opportunities to attorneys in varied practice areas. 

Baker Donelson has long had the privilege of partnering with the Orange Grove Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Orange Grove is a private, non-profit organization serving adults and children with developmental disabilities. Orange Grove was established in 1953 by families of children with intellectual disabilities in Hamilton County, Tennessee who desperately needed educational services. Notably, Baker Donelson's long-time (now retired) shareholder Tom Caldwell was one of the founders of this organization and served on its board since its inception.

A team of Baker Donelson attorneys led by Jim Levine spent many hours in the last couple of months helping Orange Grove Centers refinance several of their HUD homes using tax credits provided under the community development tax credit program administered by the Tennessee Housing Development Authority. These homes offer 24-hour support for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

In addition to vital transactional work, our Tennessee attorneys also frequently offer direct services to Orange Grove clients and their families, providing help with estate planning, conservatorship and guardianships needed to provide long-term care and support.

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December 29, 2014 10:39 AM | Posted by Borden, Lisa | Permalink

There has been a great deal of sorely needed discussion lately about issues of racial inequality, racially disparate justice, and white privilege. I have always been one to think about these matters in my own life and work. In the world of pro bono, race is an ever present concern. Whether our society wants to admit it or not, it is obvious to those of us who do pro bono work regularly that the playing field is far from level in our justice system and otherwise.

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August 11, 2014 11:30 AM | Posted by Borden, Lisa | Permalink
During the time I have been managing Baker Donelson's pro bono programs, I've been impressed and gratified to see lawyers and bar associations and groups across the country step up en masse to tackle some very important legal issues. The death penalty is an issue that has received a great deal of attention for many years, and more recently the focus on immigration has increased dramatically. Civil rights cases, including issues like marriage equality, voting rights and human trafficking have made the news, and helping veterans is a mainstay. I've gotten involved in many of these issues myself, especially death penalty cases.  But I find myself increasingly frustrated. read more
May 14, 2014 3:14 PM | Posted by Borden, Lisa | Permalink
Pro bono has come a long way in the last decade or two. More and more law firms have effective, structured pro bono programs, and many corporate legal departments either have pro bono programs or are working on developing them. It's a particular thrill for me to learn about the pro bono interests of a client, especially when I have the opportunity to help the client advance those interests.

Still, some business clients may wonder whether they are really footing the bill for work that is given away by their outside counsel. While it is certainly true that we would not be in a position to do pro bono work if not for our paying clients (for whom we are exceedingly grateful), I would argue that the work we do without charge for low income people and non-profit organizations does not come at the expense or detriment of the clients who pay our bills. In fact, I would argue that it benefits those clients.


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April 10, 2014 5:28 PM | Posted by Borden, Lisa | Permalink
I had the great pleasure today of attending the Alabama Appleseed Brewer-Torbert Awards Luncheon. What an inspiring event! read more
February 27, 2014 3:33 PM | Posted by Borden, Lisa | Permalink
Over the last several months, I have had the privilege of being part of a team that has created and launched a new homeless court program in the City of Birmingham. We had some wonderful examples on which to model our effort, including the training provided by Steve Binder of San Diego, and the work in New Orleans that has been led by Baker Donelson attorney Sherry Dolan. With three monthly hearings now under our collective belt, and a full slate of participants for next month, I think we can say that we've had a successful beginning! read more
January 16, 2014 11:34 AM | Posted by Borden, Lisa | Permalink
I was very excited to learn this morning that Baker Donelson is #31 on this year's Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list (and top law firm)!  You can see the write up here.  It's the fifth year in a row that we have made the list, and we moved up from 45th on last year's ranking. For the second time in those five years, our pro bono program has been among the factors mentioned as what makes us so great!  read more
January 2, 2014 1:26 PM | Posted by Borden, Lisa | Permalink
We live in a very superficial culture, especially when it comes taking care of things that are hard, or expensive. Or things that can't be fixed overnight. We like instant gratification. We like to congratulate ourselves for a job well done and walk away.
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December 30, 2013 4:18 PM | Posted by Borden, Lisa | Permalink
Recently, I was going through boxes while cleaning out my mother's house when I found something that was at once a historical relic and a timely reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same - it was her receipt for a $1.50 poll tax paid in Blount County, Alabama in 1956. Doesn't sound like much, but in that time and place $1.50 was probably a barrier to many. I don't know why she kept it - I'd be hard pressed to explain why she kept many things I have run across - but I am glad she did. read more