News

37 Firms Honored at 40 at 50 Judicial Pro Bono Breakfast

By Jeffery Leon

May 1, 2018

Legal Services Corporation president Jim Sandman and U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland.
Photo Credit: Jefferey Leon
Legal Services Corporation president Jim Sandman and U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland. 

On April 24 a record-high 37 area law firms were recognized for their outstanding leadership in pro bono service at the 15th annual 40 at 50 Judicial Pro Bono Recognition Breakfast at the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse.

The annual breakfast highlights the pro bono commitment of law firms where at least 40 percent of all their attorneys dedicated 50 hours or more toward providing free legal representation to low-income individuals or charitable organizations in 2017. Thirty-three firms were recognized in 2015 and 2016.

Among these year’s honorees, 16 firms had 50 percent or more of attorneys contributing 50 hours or more of pro bono work, while four firms — Ropes & Gray LLP, Jenner & Block LLP, Miller & Chevalier, Chartered, and Paul Hastings LLP — had 60 percent of attorneys contributing 50 pro bono hours or more.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland said he was “pleased to see so many firms with a strong pro bono commitment, and to see an increase in the number of qualifying firms.” At the first recognition breakfast in 2002, Garland said, only seven firms qualified.

Also honored at this year’s breakfast was James Sandman, president of the Legal Services Corporation and retiring chair of the D.C. Circuit Judicial Conference Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services. Sandman was presented with the 100 at 100 Award, which recognizes an attorney who has devoted 100 percent of his wage and 100 percent of his time to helping to ensure the provision of legal services to those in need.

“Jim Sandman spends 100 percent of his time promoting equal access to justice,” Chief Judge Garland said. “He is a person to admire, a person to look up to, and a person to regard as a role model.”

In accepting his award, Sandman, a former D.C. Bar president, paid homage to those who serve others.

“My heroes are the people who devote themselves 100 percent for the entirety of their careers to the service of others. For example, full-time legal aid lawyers, the people who entered the profession as soon as they graduated from law school and keep at it for the rest of their lives. I can’t hold a candle to them. I came to this work later in my career, I’m trying to catch up — I never will — but I try to make up for my tardiness with energy and enthusiasm.”