May 22, 2023
Dominion Energy Law Department Receives Pro Bono Award from Virginia State Bar
The Dominion Energy Law Department has been awarded the Virginia State Bar’s Frankie Muse Freeman Organizational Pro Bono Award for 2023, which recognizes a Virginia organization that provides exemplary pro bono legal services to underserved Virginians. Headquartered in Richmond, Dominion Energy employs over 17,000 people in 16 states, providing energy to nearly 7 million customers. (continued below)
Front Row – (L to R): Christina May, Sharon Burr, David DePippo, Annie Cai Larson, Richard Wetzel, Carlos Brown, Amanda Shannon, Gina Burgin, Jacqulynn Hugee, Tammy Snead, Lauren Biskie
Back Row – (L to R): Dutch Bumgardner, Troy Jackson, George Marget, James Gross, Teirra Everette, Christine Heslinga, Peter Gambardella, Rick Linker, Noopur Garg
Carlos M. Brown, senior vice president, chief legal officer, and general counsel of Dominion Energy explains his company’s long-standing commitment to pro bono work noting: “Service is a critical pillar of the Dominion Energy ethos. At bottom, our goal as a company and law department is to make things better. I am proud of our partnership with McGuireWoods and VCU Health to make lives better for VCU's most vulnerable patients. In addition, it was very rewarding to serve along with other companies across the country in an industry effort to provide pro bono legal assistance to close the justice gap.”
In addition to taking stand-alone pro bono cases through programs like Justice Server, Dominion lawyers participated in two main pro bono initiatives:
1. Medical-Legal partnership with McGuireWoods and VCU Health
In Richmond, the Dominion Energy Law Department teamed with the lawyers and staff of McGuireWoods and the leadership at VCU Health to operate an innovative pro bono medical-legal partnership (MLP) that helps low-income patients in the greater Richmond area manage the legal issues that often accompany medical problems.
The pro bono MLP was created in February 2020 when VCU Health associate general counsel Allison Held approached Dominion Energy General Counsel Carlos Brown and McGuireWoods Chairman Jon Harmon with the idea. VCU Health doctors and social workers refer patients to Dominion Energy and McGuireWoods lawyers for assistance in areas including education advocacy for children; family law; immigration issues pertaining to healthcare; housing conditions that can impair health; and life planning documents including adult guardianships, wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives.
In 2022, 150 Dominion Energy and McGuireWoods lawyers and legal professionals volunteered for the pro bono MLP, with over 90 having taken on a matter, including Dominion Energy Chief Legal Counsel and General Counsel Carlos Brown and McGuireWoods Chairman Jon Harmon.
2. Planning and Executing Inaugural Industry Pro Bono Day
Dominion Energy helped plan and execute the inaugural national “EmPOWERing” Pro Bono Day. This event, coordinated by the Pro Bono Institute and the Edison Electric Institute, brought together volunteer attorneys and legal staff from numerous electric and gas companies across the country to provide pro bono legal assistance in a show of industry support for pro bono efforts. Together, Dominion Energy and others organized more than 20 pro bono opportunities and trainings on November 16. This resulted in more than 150 in-house and law firm partner volunteers to address issues such as redressing the racial justice gap in property ownership; life planning documents for seniors, veterans, and first responders; ending homelessness for LGBTQ+ youth; expungement of criminal records; expungement of prior evictions; legal screening for relief from deportation and providing children with free legal representation; driver’s license restoration; brief advice hotlines and referral clinics; and more.
Dominion Energy’s November 16 “EmPOWERing” Pro Bono Day program focused on alleviating the ongoing eviction crisis in Virginia by focusing on eviction expungement opportunities for low-income clients. The Virginia eviction moratorium, which suspended evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, ended on June 30, 2022. Since then, evictions filings are approaching pre-pandemic levels. A June 2022 report showed that Richmond courts had more than 700 eviction hearings scheduled for the two months that followed, the most in Virginia. When a landlord has not strictly followed the notice rules, expunging an unlawful detainer from a person’s record can help when they apply for future rentals.
The Dominion Energy Law Department will receive the Freeman Award from the VSB Committee on Access to Legal Services at its 30th Anniversary Dinner on June 15 at the VSB Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach.
*The Frankie Muse Freeman Organizational Pro Bono Award is named for civil rights icon and Danville native Frankie Muse Freeman, who served as co-counsel on the NAACP’s successful racial discrimination suit against the St. Louis Board of Education in 1949. Freeman was lead attorney on the NAACP’s landmark housing lawsuit, Davis et al vs. St. Louis Housing Authority, which ended legalized racial discrimination in public housing in 1952.
About Dominion Energy
About 7 million customers in 16 states energize their homes and businesses with electricity or natural gas from Dominion Energy (NYSE: D), headquartered in Richmond, Va. The company is committed to safely providing reliable, affordable and sustainable energy and to achieving Net Zero emissions by 2050. Please visit DominionEnergy.com to learn more.