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33 Firms Honored at 40 at 50 Breakfast for Pro Bono Service

By Tracy Schorn

May 2, 2017

U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Merrick B. Garland and James J. Sandman, president of the Legal Services Corporation, attend 40 at 50 Breakfast.

On April 27 the chief judges of the District of Columbia federal courts honored 33 law firms and the National Capital Region chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) for their pro bono leadership at the 14th annual 40 at 50 Judicial Pro Bono Recognition Breakfast.

The ceremony, held at the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse, recognizes firms where at least 40 percent of attorneys devoted 50 hours or more to providing free legal service to charitable organizations or individuals of limited means in 2016.

Jenner & Block LLP, Miller & Chevalier Chartered, and Ropes & Gray LLP were especially honored for their commitment to pro bono work. Last year 75 percent of attorneys at Ropes & Gray contributed 50 hours or more of pro bono service, while more than 65 percent of attorneys at Jenner & Block and Miller & Chevalier worked 50 hours or more pro bono.

The D.C. chapter of the ACC was recognized for promoting pro bono work by in-house corporate lawyers and for establishing partnerships with the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center’s Small Business Brief Advice Legal Clinics, the Whitman-Walker Health Legal Services Program, and the Children’s Law Center.

Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia noted that partners who commit to pro bono service “set the culture” for their firms, applauding the seven firms where 40 percent of partners contributed 50 hours or more of pro bono work in 2016.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Merrick B. Garland expressed his gratitude to the legal community for fighting for access to justice in the District. “The need is high. You fill that gap,” Garland said, adding that pro bono lawyers do more than just provide legal services—their work tells people that they matter. “Clients get validation that their legal problems are important.”

“I’m very proud of you. Thank you,” said Garland.

The D.C. legal community is “extraordinary” for “leading the nation in pro bono work,” said James J. Sandman, president of the Legal Services Corporation. Sandman underscored the ongoing need for volunteer attorneys in the landlord and tenant court in the District.

“Ninety-five percent of tenants have no lawyers; 95 percent of landlords do,” said Sandman. Appealing to lawyers to represent “the poorest of the poor,” Sandman expressed his desire that every Section 8 housing person facing eviction receive representation. He ended his speech with a plea to the legal community to engage more attorneys in pro bono work. “Spread the word!”

The following are this year’s 40 at 50 honorees:

1. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
2. Arnold & Porter LLP * 
3. Covington & Burling LLP 
4. Crowell & Moring LLP 
5. Debevoise & Plimpton LLP * 
6. Dechert LLP 
7. DLA Piper, LLP (US) 
8. Duane Morris LLP *  
9. Foley & Lardner LLP 
10. Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP 
11. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP 
12. Gilbert LLP 
13. Hogan Lovells US LLP 
14. Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP 
15. Jenner & Block LLP *+ 
16. Jones Day 
17. Latham & Watkins LLP * 
18. Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP * 
19. Mayer Brown LLP 
20. McDermott Will & Emery LLP 
21. Miller & Chevalier Chartered *+ 
22. O’Melveny & Myers LLP 
23. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP * 
24. Paul Hastings LLP 
25. Reed Smith LLP 
26. Ropes & Gray LLP *+ 
27. Shearman & Sterling LLP 
 28. Sidley Austin LLP 
 29. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP  
30. Steptoe & Johnson LLP 
31. Sullivan & Cromwell LLP 
32. WilmerHale LLP 
33. Winston & Strawn LLP *

* 50 percent or more of attorneys contributed at least 50 hours of pro bono service in 2016 

+ 60 percent or more of attorneys contributed 50 hours or more of pro bono service

Bold indicates that 40 percent of partners contributed 50 hours or more of pro bono work