Clinic business

Love of PayPal Atty’s Service Extends to Ukrainian Clinic

Law360 (April 29, 2022, 4:27 p.m. EDT) —

benjamin adams

While he acknowledges it may seem odd to some people, PayPal’s Benjamin Adams often views his pro bono legal work as “selfish” – because of his own takeaway.

“It’s weird that I think the service is selfish. But I get so much energy from those experiences, from being able to help someone else,” the in-house attorney said in a recent interview with Law360. Pulse. “Giving my time, giving my energy leads to an amplifying effect where I actually get more energy back from that kind of experience.”

At the online payments company, Adams serves as Chief Business and IP Advisor and Executive Sponsor of the Global Volunteer Service Program. In addition to spending time in the Peace Corps, service during her career has included helping a woman from El Salvador obtain special status as a juvenile immigrant, and sitting down with a 16-year-old and her mother as the young woman filled out a form at a name and gender reassignment clinic.

“You are able to help someone through a period of difficulty or crisis, to take advantage of some of your skills and to come out of it with your eyes maybe a little more open than they were. before that experience,” Adams said. .

He added, “Service is something I’ve always believed in.”

He is now one of more than 2,400 in-house and private attorneys who lend their expertise to a nationwide remote pro bono legal clinic to help tens of thousands of eligible Ukrainians in the United States apply for Temporary Protected Status during the war in Russia against Ukraine. The US government offers temporary status to foreign nationals whose home countries are considered unsafe and gives them the right to live and work in the United States for a period of time.

As Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine, the US Department of Homeland Security says it provide temporary protected status to Ukrainians who were in the United States on March 1. The agency has since extended deadline and now allows Ukrainians to apply for temporary status if they have been in the country since April 11.

Lawyers for Good Government and Kirkland & Ellis LLP run the pro bono clinic, officially known as the TPS Pro Bono Project for Ukraine, first training lawyers on immigration paperwork and then connecting them with Ukrainians who are looking for help with the application process. .

Starting next week, Lawyers for Good Government will create the matches and then provide assignments from there on a rolling basis. PayPal Holdings Inc., Bank of New York Mellon Corp., Bristol Myers Squibb, General Electric Co., Ford Motor Co. and IBM are among nearly 50 companies participating in the clinic, according to Lawyers for Good Government. And there are about 80 law firms involved.

In the interview, Adams explains why PayPal got involved with the clinic and identified the main hurdle he thinks volunteer attorneys might encounter with the application form. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How did PayPal get involved?

Lawyers for Good Government has a mailing list. They regularly send out alerts for different initiatives in areas where they need support. He was the one that struck a chord for us.

We have sent an alert to our legal team for lawyers to volunteer for the clinic. Not only do these things take time voluntarily; they also take resources. We combine [the volunteer effort] with a monetary donation of $5,000 [to Lawyers for Good Government].

The next step is for our attorneys to attend training to familiarize themselves with the basics of these immigration laws. Very few, if any, pro bono attorneys have in-depth expertise in immigration law. Most will be product lawyers, privacy lawyers or contract lawyers. But lawyers can probably get up to speed in a relatively short time through training. Otherwise, Ukrainians would try to fill out the forms themselves.

Why did this particular effort hit a deal with PayPal?

PayPal operates in 200 countries. We see ourselves as a global organization. We have business in affected markets.

In a separate initiative from the business side, PayPal [in March] rolled out an expansion of services available in Ukraine [to provide customers with ways to send money quickly and securely to friends and family].

On the pro bono legal side, we regularly seek ways to engage with broader societal issues – border immigration issues, name and gender change clinics, minority-based small business clinics – and [find those] that our team members are connected to and concerned about.

What is your role in the clinic?

In 2016, we launched a formal pro bono program at PayPal. It matches our values. We believe in the importance of having a positive impact and making economies more inclusive.

Not only does this help us help others, but on the skill-based volunteering side, it also allows our employees, lawyers and legal professionals to broaden their skills, to engage in different ways on topics that they might not otherwise have met or developed their leadership. skills or customer engagement skills they might not otherwise have been able to test.

[PayPal’s program] recommends that all members of the legal team strive to provide at least 12 hours of service each year. We think of service broadly: traditional legal pro bono services, as well as community impact services such as volunteering at a school. But when we try to facilitate opportunities, we try to facilitate opportunities in the pro bono space.

Each site where we have three or more attorneys, we have a designated pro bono legal officer who works to facilitate opportunities at those sites. COVID-19 has enabled more opportunities for virtual engagement. Individual site-by-site activities have become a little less important, and we can often do things nationally and sometimes globally when we hire our lawyers around the world.

Last year we had about 60% who provided 12 hours or more of service. We had the participation of 80% of our team. This enabled us to provide over 4,300 hours of pro bono service in total last year.

Our pro bono program has grown steadily since 2016. We have steadily increased our commitment to pro bono and are proud of what we achieved in 2021. In 2022, we aim to continue to improve engagement and participation. For this year, we hope to see 75% or more meet or exceed 12 volunteer hours and have 90% of our legal staff volunteer any amount of time.

In your opinion, what challenges might volunteer lawyers for the clinic encounter?

The I-821 petition form deepens the eligibility criteria. The last time I reviewed the eligibility criteria, I was talking to a 16-year-old young woman, asking her some pretty embarrassing and thought-provoking questions like: Have you ever been convicted of prostitution? Do you have children? Things like that that are sort of nonsense, but need to be asked and answered.

Here, the eligibility criteria goes to, Have you been engaged in espionage or sabotage? Have you been involved in technology theft, certain criminal offences? Have you ever trafficked in controlled substances?

Part of this goes back to the importance at the start of a pro bono engagement like this: when you meet someone for the first time, take the time to have an initial conversation to get to know the person you you speak. At least try to break the ice and start building a little repertoire before asking people to give you lots of personal details about their marital status, their location. There are embarrassing questions around you, have you ever been or are you currently a member of the communist party or some other totalitarian party? Did you ever participate in the Nazi persecution or genocide?

Some of these things don’t always translate well. Lawyers for Good Government will be available to mentor and guide. They will start to see if there is a question that, for example, is somehow stumbled upon by the Ukrainian public that we work with. They will also be in an ideal position to help us learn from each other, which I think is important.

There are advantages to the clinic being virtual. But are there also downsides, like the lack of face-to-face interaction with the people you help?

You don’t do it in a disconnected way. You probably do it with video. I think we’ve all gotten pretty good at developing relationships virtually.

I have done some of these clinics virtually; I’ve done a few in person. I find in-person people obviously a bit easier to connect with. But the virtual ones were just as rewarding.

–Edited by Brian Baresch.

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