DLA Piper: Long-Term Investment in Our Community

By Thai Phi Le

May 31, 2016

DLA Piper, Capital Area Food Bank

At the D.C. Bar's Celebration of Leadership on June 15, DLA Piper LLP's award may read "Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year," but the firm's honor represents many years of commitment to access to justice. "Long, strong, and consistent"—that's how James Sandman, president of the Legal Services Corporation, described the firm's record of serving the legal needs of the District of Columbia's poorest residents.

In just the last year, DLA Piper contributed 8 percent of its D.C. office's 192,630 total billable hours to pro bono service. That's 14,700 hours with 100 percent attorney participation, from associates to partners.

The numbers speak for themselves, but members of the legal services provider community can better attest to the firm's work to narrow the civil justice gap. In addition to the Legal Services Corporation, organizations like the D.C. Access to Justice Commission, Ayuda, DC Appleseed, Capital Area Food Bank, Children's Law Center, and the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia sent letters of support recommending DLA Piper for the Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year award.

"I cannot think of a firm whose lawyers are better represented among the most important access to justice projects in our city," wrote Sandman in his nomination letter. "The firm's pro bono work demonstrates a breadth of investment in our community that is uncommon among law firms."

Those investments include serving in leadership roles on the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center's Pro Bono Committee and on the D.C. Access to Justice Commission. DLA Piper attorneys also helped clients to obtain Social Security and disability benefits, assisted survivors of domestic violence, worked with veterans in need and with families on the brink of losing their homes, and provided legal counsel to organizations that help feed those in need.

In 2015 the firm partnered with Arent Fox LLP and Georgetown University Law Center to launch the DC Affordable Law Firm, a first-of-its kind nonprofit law firm serving individuals who do not qualify for legal aid but cannot afford a lawyer.

DLA Piper was integral in developing the Access to Justice Commission's groundbreaking legal services needs report in 2008, spurring public and private financial support for pro bono work and helping to create new service models like the "Attorney for the Day Project" to assist clients. The firm is once again working with the commission to release an update to the 2008 report, which not only will assess the current access to justice needs but also offer a path for the future.

"We are so honored and touched to receive [the Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year] award. DLA Piper's pro bono program has long focused on improving access to justice in the communities in which we live and work," said Lisa Dewey, US pro bono partner at DLA Piper and director of New Perimeter. "We are thrilled to be recognized by the D.C. Bar and proud of the efforts of our dedicated lawyers in Washington, D.C., and around the globe who help ensure the safety, security, and livelihood of those who cannot afford legal counsel. We are privileged and honored to work with the wonderful and dedicated legal service providers and organizations in our community. Their incredible support and friendship help make our pro bono work possible."  

Join us in honoring DLA Piper at our Celebration of Leadership on June 15. The Bar's annual awards will be held at the Mayflower Hotel at 7 p.m.