ARMONK, N.Y., March 29 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it has received the 2010 National Public Service Award from the American Bar Association (ABA) in recognition of the company's dedication to providing free legal assistance to nonprofit organizations.
The ABA Section of Business Law bestows its annual Public Service Award to a law firm that has demonstrated a commitment to delivering pro bono business services to organizations. IBM is only the second corporate law department to receive the ABA honor.
"IBMers have long demonstrated an unwavering commitment to providing volunteer assistance to non profit community service organizations," said Robert C. Weber, senior vice president, Legal and Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel for IBM. "In these uncertain times, it is critical that companies and law firms remain focused on providing the essential pro bono legal assistance that nonprofits need so they can continue to fulfill their mission of service to their communities."
Over the past few years, IBM has expanded its pro bono legal activities and made providing free legal assistance to nonprofit organizations a cornerstone of its legal department's efforts worldwide. To support this endeavor, the company established a global pro bono committee that encourages its attorneys to become more active by making it easier for them to find opportunities for volunteerism that meet their personal interests.
Through its collaboration with organizations like the Pro Bono Partnership, IBM attorneys are connected with nonprofit clients who need assistance with legal matters that regularly arise, as well as unexpected crises. The Partnership works with nonprofits based in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. IBM has supported the Partnership since 1998, and Michelle Browdy, vice president and assistant general counsel for IBM, is on the Partnership's Board of Directors.
IBM attorneys have addressed more than 140 legal matters for Partnership clients, such as the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. In all, IBM lawyers have volunteered thousands of hours of legal assistance to essential community-based organizations that serve the poor and disadvantaged and typically are unable to afford to hire attorneys for broad legal representation.
"Under the leadership of Bob Weber and Michelle Browdy, pro bono activity at IBM has become a high priority and is now flourishing. We value our relationship with IBM and the enormous impact the legal department has had on our nonprofit clients and the communities they serve," said Rick Hobish, executive director of the Pro Bono Partnership
During pro bono engagements, IBM lawyers help organizations establish and utilize best practices with their employees, clients and Boards and provide the guidance and legal expertise needed to comply with applicable governmental regulations. The insight from IBM's attorneys also enables nonprofits to remain abreast of important legal developments that affect their day-to-day operations.
The pro bono work of IBM's legal team complements the company's global volunteerism initiative. During the last decade, IBM has been one of the largest corporate contributors of cash, equipment, and people to nonprofit organizations and educational institutions around the world and works hand-in-hand with public and nonprofit organizations to design technology solutions that address specific problems. This type of volunteer effort goes beyond business as usual, requiring IBM and grantee organizations to make significant commitments to work together, set clear benchmarks, and focus on measurable, achievable goals.
IBM's employee volunteer effort is encouraged and supported worldwide through its On Demand Community, a program that helps volunteers provide Web-based solutions and assistance to their communities. Today, On Demand Community includes 134,551 employees with 6,848,599 volunteer hours logged, and 13,382 retirees with 3,056,403 volunteer hours logged.
On Demand Community offers access to both IBM technology and talent to schools, not-for-profit organizations, economic development groups, and focuses on communities threatened by the digital divide -- the gap between those who have IT products and skills and those who don't.
Corporate social responsibility and community engagement is woven into IBM's culture and history. IBM is focused delivering innovation that matters for its clients and the world, including finding solutions that make the planet more efficient, such as solving social problems in the same manner that the company addresses business challenges. IBM's approach is very broad and incorporates sharing the vast skills and technological talents of its people and contributing it into the communities we live and work in.
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