Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year: Miller & Chevalier

By Jeffery Leon

June 14, 2017

Miller & Chevalier, Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year

This year’s Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year Award will be presented to Miller & Chevalier Chartered at the D.C. Bar’s Celebration of Leadership on June 14.

In 2016 the firm completed over 13,700 hours of pro bono service with a staff of 111 attorneys, working on cases in child custody, housing, immigration, structured settlements and more. The firm also takes part in the D.C Access to Justice Commission’s Raising the Bar in D.C. campaign and staffs several local clinics, including the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center’s Landlord Tenant Resource Center and Advocacy & Justice Clinic.

Originally founded as a tax firm, Miller & Chevalier has expanded their reach over the years to encompass practice in litigation, tax, international trade, and employee benefits. The firm has crafted a supportive culture towards pro bono service, driven by the resolution from the D.C. Courts in the early 2000s for the need for more local pro bono service. The firm has been proactive towards this goal, and its litigation group is largely staffed by attorneys with prior experience in the Public Defender Service.

“It should be part of your professional career to work for people who cannot normally afford your services,” says Kitty Wach, pro bono counsel for Miller & Chevalier.

In 2015 the firm’s Executive Committee agreed to implement a new firm-wide policy toward pro bono service, requiring all attorneys, from partners to associates, to complete 50 hours of pro bono work each year. The policy is unique among law firms. Instituted in 2016, the policy has had a warm reception from Miller & Chevalier attorneys. Wach mentions that for some attorneys at the firm it provides an eye-opening and very rewarding experience.

"Washington is a pretty stratified place. We have acute income disparity here, and I think it’s a healthy and valuable experience when a lawyer can sit down across the table from someone who has had a totally different experience from them, who can communicate with them on a personal level and find out that they have a lot in common,” says Wach.

Reflecting on the Pro Bono Firm of the Year Award, Miller & Chevalier’s Executive Committee Chair Anthony F. Shelley is proud of the firm’s accomplishments.

“We are honored to receive this recognition from the D.C. Bar,” Shelley says. “The firm has always had a strong tradition of pro bono work, and we intensified our commitment in 2016…To see our contributions recognized in such a significant way is truly gratifying.”