Philadelphia partner Bill Clark was named to The National Law Journal’s Pro Bono Hotlist. An article in The National Law Journal titled, “Corporate Lawyer Creates Big ‘Benefit’” described the reasons for his selection.
The article discusses Bill’s efforts to change the nature of the corporation itself in a way that benefits society. He has been the legal and legislative muscle behind the nationwide effort to write state laws allowing the establishment of benefit corporations, which are entities that are chartered not only to seek profit but to provide social and environmental benefits.
The idea, which was promoted by Clark's pro bono client B Lab, is sometimes thought of as a hybrid between a nonprofit and a business corporation. Traditional corporations that spend capital on projects such as saving the rain forest or fighting hunger risk suits from shareholders who would prefer the money to be sued to increase the value of their investment in the firm.
Since Drinker Biddle joined the effort in 2009, some 19 states plus the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing the establishment of benefit corporations. Most significantly, Delaware, where nearly half of all U.S. corporations are registered, passed its own benefit corporation law in July.
Bill hopes that benefit corporations evolve from a novelty to the norm. He said, “This new way of doing business allows you to be equally successful and have a positive impact on society and the environment.” “It's not helping individual people who could not be served, which is the classic definition of pro bono, but it's to have a much broader impact,” he said.