Many attorneys select their pro bono work for a personal connection they have to an issue. For Pryor Cashman partner Jamie Brickell, a medical diagnosis led him to a pro bono opportunity. In March 2020, Brickell was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is one of the world’s deadliest cancers, with only a 10% five-year survival rate. Jamie began treatment with Dr. Diane Simeone of NYU Langone, who leads the Pancreatic Cancer Early Detection Consortium (PRECEDE). PRECEDE is a group of medical experts whose mission is to increase the pancreatic cancer five-year survival rate from 10% to 50% in the next 10 years. “Many patients with pancreatic cancer have advanced disease by the time it is detected. Over half have metastatic disease and don’t have curative options. Only 15% are candidates for surgery. We are working to develop therapies and focus on early detection, which led to the development of PRECEDE,” says Dr. Simeone.
Luckily for Jamie, after finding the pancreatic mass, he was able to start chemo to keep the tumor at bay and shrink it before undergoing surgery to remove the mass. Jamie is now cancer free. After working with Dr. Simeone and learning about PRECEDE, Jamie became interested in how he and his colleagues at Pryor Cashman could help to increase awareness and provide support and advocacy for its mission. “There were certain things that needed to be done that we were sure to set-up. For example, corporate structure, trademarks, name protection, and agreements between the centers. The firm immediately said yes to doing this work pro bono,” says Jamie. Pryor Cashman is now an official pro bono partner to PRECEDE. To date, more than a dozen Pryor Cashman attorneys have dedicated pro bono time to PRECEDE on several matters, including:
- Establishing its 501(c)(3) non-profit status;
- Handling all of its trademark filings;
- Advising on its contract and template reviews; and
- Supporting fundraising efforts
“Every time I asked someone whether it was a corporate partner or a tax attorney, people just said,” Yes, how can I help?” People got behind PRECEDE 100%. Everyone has stepped up.” Jamie told us.
PRECEDE has now grown to 40 centers across the globe. PRECEDE’s goal is to tackle early detection through a longitudinal study that involves screening and genetic testing, with the goal to catch pancreatic cancers early for those that know they have a predisposition. “We started the high-risk screening program and had 4 patients that developed cancer and we were able to resect it at stage 1. PRECEDE’s focus on early detection will drive a change in survival, “says Dr. Simeone. “We hope to grow to 100 centers and 10,000 high risk individuals in the next 5 years. This is the largest pancreatic cancer study and Pryor Cashman is at the heart of helping it to be successful. It’s growing to be a worldwide effort.”
Asked about Pryor Cashman’s pro bono involvement, Dr. Simeone told us, “We wouldn’t be anywhere near where we are now without the help of Pryor Cashman. It restores your faith in humanity. It’s a unique situation for the area that we are in, but it is a model that might be replicable to other firms around the world to think about if they are near a PRECEDE site.”
Asked about his firm’s commitment to doing pro bono work with PRECEDE, Jamie told us, “Pryor Cashman has always been my second family. I’ve spent my entire career there. The fact that everyone stepped up to help just reaffirms that I have been lucky to be a part of this firm for so long.” When asked what he would tell others about doing pro bono work, Jamie says, “There are a lot of things that we all find important, and we are always looking for ways to help. It’s not always easy to find the right thing to put your efforts into. For me this was easy. The work that Dr. Simeone is doing and what they are doing to help the world is incredible work. The ability to be able to help them is very rewarding.”
Thanks so much to Jamie and Dr. Simeone for speaking with us about the amazing work that PRECEDE is doing and Pryor Cashman’s pro bono support of that work. This is another example of the great work that attorneys can do pro bono to make a difference. As Jamie and his colleagues told us during our conversation, “If you have the heart to do something, you can do it.”