A few years ago a law school friend of INTA member Alaine Doolan
asked her if she would help his nonprofit client Ability Beyond Disability
(ABD) located in Bethel, Connecticut on a pro bono basis with some intellectual property issues. Alaine knew nothing about ABD but as she recalls “I did some research and it seemed like a group of people who deserved help.”
ABD has helped thousands of people with physical and mental disabilities to discover, build and celebrate their abilities. After opening its first group home in 1968, ABD quickly became Connecticut’s largest private provider of residential services for people with disabilities. ABD offers one of the most comprehensive systems of community-based support for people with disabilities in the Northeast, with services spanning Connecticut and northeastern metropolitan New York. Alaine volunteered her trademark expertise including searches, opinions and trademark prosecution to help ABD protect its service mark and its logo.
In connection with ABD, Alaine additionally provided trademark assistance for Roses for Autism
which is located at Pinchbeck’s Rose Farm Farm in Guilford, Connecticut. Started in 2009, Roses for Autism became the first business endeavor for Growing Possibilities, a nonprofit social enterprise founded by ABD that is dedicated to growing independence in the business world for individuals with Autism and other disabilities. Roses for Autism provides employment opportunities for people with autism by teaching needed skills to be productive members of the community. Alaine filed an application and helped protect its existing design mark.
Now employed at the law firm of Robinson & Cole LLP, Alaine still finds time to tackle new pro bono projects. She is involved with the Women’s Business Development Counsel, located in Stamford, Connecticut, where she volunteers time to teach intellectual property to small business owners and entrepreneurs. In addition, she is also currently involved with the The Truancy Intervention Project
through the Connecticut Bar Association. Although not related to IP work, each year Alaine is matched as a volunteer mentor to a student who has attendance issues from the New Britain, Connecticut school system. Since 2006, The Truancy Intervention Project has engaged 80 attorneys with 111 students. This Project has shown that students are apt to go to school and do well when they have a mentor who demonstrates consistent interest in them. Each volunteer serves as an attorney, advocate and role model for their student. Most of the students in the program come from low-income families.
Based on the feedback from the 6th and 7th grade students Alaine had worked with in The Truancy Intervention Project, she reached beyond her volunteer assignment and this year initiated a program to raise money to provide each student in the program with a new backpack and supplies for the 2012 school year. Alaine found that one of the students’ excuses for not going to school was that they did not have school supplies. Alaine wanted to eliminate at least one excuse. She was able to meet her goal this year and filled 25 backpacks through the generous donations of Robinson & Cole, her colleagues and many caring friends. By next September 2013, she hopes to raise the necessary funds to support not only the backpacks but be able to supply the students with school uniforms. The interesting spin on this project is twofold. Not only was she able to volunteer time to the program, she was able to incorporate her trademark expertise by developing a trademark logo design called B.E.E. The Best (where B.E.E. stands for Backpacks for Excellence in Education). Robinson & Cole is also dedicated to helping the community and the firm’s formal Pro Bono Program allows Alaine to incorporate her associated volunteer hours into billable hours.
Alaine is one example of the pro bono work INTA members are doing in various capacities.
Author: Jean Maxwell
, Alere Inc., Waltham, Mass., USA
Pro Bono Committee