To better retain its staff attorneys, DLA Piper is sending them away.
Launched two years ago, the firm's New Perimeter pro bono program gives lawyers an opportunity to live and work for up to four months in places such as Kosovo and South Africa.
"My involvement in New Perimeter is most definitely a deciding factor in my decision to stay with DLA Piper," says Sara K. Andrews, a DLA Piper associate who spent last winter in Pristina working on the New Perimeter Kosovo Law Reform Project.
As a nonprofit affiliate separate from DLA Piper's U.S. pro bono practice, New Perimeter offers legal support for projects including health care, housing, legal reform, and human rights in developing countries. The international firm, which has 64 offices in 25 countries, already has donated 13,000 pro bono hours-worth $5 million-to New Perimeter projects.
According to Constance de la Vega, a law professor and academic director of international programs at the University of San Francisco School of Law, New Perimeter could become an excellent recruiting tool. "I think it gives [attorneys] a broader experience that [will] help them be more knowledgeable about international issues when they litigate here," she says.
One example of that broader experience is the program's Kosovo Law Reform Project, which promoted the legislative process of bargaining, drafting, and compromise as an alternative to top-down government mandates. During Andrews's four months in the project, the 32-year-old conducted training sessions for legal officers in the Ministry of Justice and helped draft Kosovo's Law on Courts and Law on Prosecution. She even filled in briefly-and informally-as the Ministry of Justice's legislative head of the Department of Legal Affairs.
"It was an invaluable experience to play a role in helping a developing nation formulate its laws," says Andrews, who recently moved to the firm's Washington, D.C., office to help run the New Perimeter program. "It also keeps attorneys interested and excited about their work."