Accenture's Legal Access Committee
In House Pro Bono Stories
We sat down with Emma Hearse, Pro Bono Deployment Lead at Accenture to talk about the structure of their pro bono committee.
What is the membership structure of your committee?
Our programme is called Legal Access and is sponsored by our General Counsel. It's overseen by a committee led by global co-chairs and supported by two part-time staff, one in London and one in New York, who are non-lawyers with a background in consulting. We are responsible for overall programme design and ongoing management, including managing the global committee and local teams, project/partner sourcing, reporting, communications, and global initiative deployment.
We also have Legal Access Champions who are responsible for local projects and priorities in their countries. Each project also has a lead lawyer who answers project-specific questions.
How do you define "pro bono"?
We broadly align with the US Pro Bono Institute's definition and include activities such as: legal advice, legal research and analysis, assisting and advocating on behalf of clients to facilitate their access to legal rights to housing, educational support, and medical care, and legal “know your rights” training.
What is the geographical reach?
Accenture has over 3,200 legal professionals across nearly 50 countries. Since Legal Access is a global pro bono programme, we aim to make volunteer opportunities available to all of our legal teams. We have ongoing local projects in the US, UK, Ireland, Argentina, Brazil, China, Singapore, India, and the Philippines. It's exciting because every year we see team members launch pro bono initiatives in new countries.
How do you source projects?
We empower team members across the globe to quickly and easily launch projects they are passionate about. Both lawyers and non-lawyers from any country can sponsor pro bono partnerships, supported by regional leads and the global team which assesses, activates, and organises resources and other volunteers to bring the project to life. Our projects reflect a breadth of expertise and passions, and diverse pro bono cultures in different countries.
Our staff and champions also actively source and develop projects with local legal service organisations, Accenture's corporate citizenship partners, law firms, pro bono associations, and client and ecosystem partners.
What is the internal approval process for projects?
All projects are submitted for compliance review for approval by local Legal Access Champions, and local legal and global co-chairs. This ensures the project is aligned with our global and local goals, prevents the unauthorised practice of law, that we have sufficient insurance, and we have ensured compliance with Accenture policies. Projects must be reviewed by a local Corporate Citizenship lead before recruiting volunteers.
How do you think about employee engagement/motivation?
We make it as easy as possible! We staff the programme to help local teams launch a range of projects, there is a flexible time commitment, and diverse volunteering formats (from one-off to regular). We use technology to manage the intake of new projects, track volunteer engagement, and identify partners who generate the most interest. Then we actively showcase our pride in the work of our volunteers in articles, videos and on Accenture broadcasts.
How do you reward pro bono within your organisation?
In each region, Legal Access leadership will review the completed projects, recognise the project leads for new projects and identify those team members with an exceptional number of volunteer hours.
Volunteers who regularly participate are flagged for consideration to lead future projects and join their Legal Access Committees. We encourage participants to emphasise their pro bono activities in their annual performance discussions.