Green Pro Bono – Helping Provide Solutions to Climate Change

By Nancy Reiner

Editor’s Note: Pro bono legal services have traditionally been offered to indigent people and organizations focused on social service.  We asked Nancy Reiner, co-founder of Green Pro Bono, Inc., for background on this new organization.

In 2009, Green Pro Bono, Inc. (www.greenprobono.org), a §501(c)3 nonprofit corporation, was founded in Boston by attorneys Nancy Reiner and Christopher Mirabelle. Its purpose: to connect  interested lawyers with  social entrepreneurs and nonprofits in the environmental and green technology fields. This would serve two market dynamics. The steady demand of mission-driven social entrepreneurs, who develop creative solutions to the world’s environmental and energy problems, often have limited means to get from idea to product delivery. At the same time, lawyers in many practice areas, such as corporate, financial services, employment, or trademark law, would like  to “give back” in this area.

Green Pro Bono operates as an all-volunteer organization,  and Ms. Reiner and her colleagues (including 20 volunteers) have connected more than 25 social entrepreneurs with lawyers who have provided  more than $300,000 worth of legal services over the past 12 months. Attorneys who have accepted assignments come from high profile, large law firms as well as smaller practices. “Our goal,” Ms.  Reiner reports, “is to give lawyers the opportunity to help create solutions to our environmental problems by connecting them with mission-driven projects.”

An example of a Green Pro Bono success is EGG-energy, Inc. (www.egg-energy.com), a company started by a team of individuals from Harvard and MIT. EGG-energy’s founders developed a simple solution to a complex problem in the developing world, the lack of a power grid to support use of modern technology tools (i.e., light bulbs, televisions, and computers) in low-income, sub-Saharan African households. To address this problem, EGG-energy built a reliable, portable, and rechargeable battery, which can be regularly recharged at a central village location. Villagers rent the battery, use it for their home needs (in place of carbon-emitting kerosene), and exchange it when depleted [discharged], at the central depot, for a fully charged battery. They call themselves “the Netflix of batteries”, only instead of movies, they deliver power.

EGG-energy asked Green Pro Bono to find a lawyer to work pro bono on financial service matters and Green ProBono was able to connect EGG-energy with corporate law partner and board member Paul Schwartz at Goodwin Procter. As EGG-energy Co-Founder and Director Jukka Valimaki stated, “Green Pro Bono provided EGG-energy with a tremendous benefit to get quality pro bono help from a major law firm; it allows our limited funds to go toward accomplishing our objectives in Tanzania instead.”

Any interested lawyer or law firm may associate with Green Pro Bono as it expands to serve communities and lawyers across the globe and in your local community. 

For more information, contact Nancy Reiner:

nancy.reiner@greenprobono.org. 

Nancy B. Reiner is a Managing Director at Major, Lindsey & Africa, where she focuses on in-house and law firm placements for senior-level attorneys. and placing contract attorneys at legal departments and law firms. Prior to this position, Ms. Reiner was the Executive Director of the Boston office of Counsel On Call. Nancy was also a partner at Brown Rudnick LLP in Boston for 17 years.
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