In May, the Legal Services Division team located at the Global Mining office in Oak Creek, Wisconsin participated in their second team Pro Bono Clinic by volunteering for the Milwaukee "Wills for Heroes" Program.
The Wills for Heroes program is an important community based pro bono effort designed to assist emergency first responder personnel by preparing basic estate planning documents to protect the first responder and their families. The Wills for Heroes program provided the volunteers with the necessary laptop computers, software programs and supplies required for completing the estate planning documents through the support of the State Bar of Wisconsin pro bono program and other area law firms and businesses. This second pro bono team event was a success as it was well received by its many appreciative participants, and the team found this community engagement opportunity a very rewarding experience.
What is a pro bono program and why is the Caterpillar Legal Services Division involved?
In essence, it's about commitment to the community and living out Our Values in Action—Caterpillar's Worldwide Code of Conduct. The Caterpillar Legal Services Division founded its pro bono program in 2006, with a mission to provide pro bono services for organizations and individuals in need and to improve the communities in which we live and work. Pro bono refers to legal services provided to those who are unable to access or obtain quality legal services or representation. The Caterpillar pro bono program offers all types of legal services, including general advising, courtroom representation, legal documentation such as wills and orders of protection, divorce filings, legislation, education and much more. While one can find law firms that urge their associates to do pro bono work, it isn't common among corporate in-house legal staffs.
Currently, the Legal Services Division has more than 200 active pro bono volunteers comprised of lawyers, paralegals and support staff. Already in 2013, the team has collectively completed nearly 600 pro bono hours.
Recently R. Carl Wilbur was awarded the 2013 Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award by Prairie State Legal Services, a local organization that provides legal services to indigent people in the Central Illinois area. For the past two years, Carl has worked through Prairie State Legal Services in the area of family law, providing counseling and legal advice, preparing all court filings and attending court hearings to obtain divorces for local clients that are otherwise unable to afford legal services. "Although the pro bono work is different than what I do and have done in my career at Caterpillar, it is very rewarding to be able to provide legal services to those who are truly in need, and otherwise unable to afford them. It's a constant reminder to me, despite life's many day-to-day trials and tribulations, just how fortunate I am to work for a company like Caterpillar and be in the profession I am. The Legal Services Division's participation in pro bono programs like this is a testament to Caterpillar's commitment to the community, and I feel truly blessed to work for a company like Caterpillar that encourages these efforts," said Wilbur.