About The Firm
Pro Bono Activities
Locke Lord has a rich and longstanding tradition of giving back to our communities through pro bono projects. We consider it an obligation and part of our responsibility as lawyers and as human beings to provide legal services to people who cannot afford them. Our proactive Pro Bono Committee involves attorneys in each of our 11 U.S. offices, and, in 2010 alone, they logged nearly 15,000 hours of pro bono assistance to clients across the United States.
From complex political asylum cases that seek safety for people persecuted in their native countries to simple tax matters that make huge differences in the lives of everyday people, we attack each case with commitment and high quality legal counsel. The American Bar Association Code of Professional Responsibility, Ethical Consideration EC 2-25, says: “Every lawyer, regardless of professional prominence or professional workload, should find time to participate in serving the disadvantaged.” At Locke Lord, these are more than just words and, to our attorneys, pro bono truly matters.
For an in-depth story on Locke Lord's pro bono efforts, please click here.
In Chicago, Locke Lord attorneys handle numerous political asylum matters on behalf of the National Immigrant Justice Center, logging hundreds of pro bono hours to help individuals and families who seek political asylum in the United States because of persecution in their home countries. Chicago’s pro bono efforts also include work for Just The Beginning Foundation (JTBF), a not-for-profit organization of judges, lawyers and other citizens dedicated to improving the legal system, honoring the legacy of African-Americans in the federal judiciary and increasing racial diversity in the legal profession and on the bench. Chicago’s pro bono efforts also go toward intellectual property issues with Lawyers for the Creative Arts and legal matters for Equip for Equality and Cabrini Green Legal Aid.
The Chicago office was honored for its noteworthy pro bono contributions by its inclusion in the Public Interest Law Initiative’s 2011-2013 Pro Bono Recognition Rosters, and as the recipient of the 2012 JTBF Diversity Partnership Award for its work with Chicago middle school students to foster interest in the legal profession and careers in law.
Below are just a few additional examples from our Chicago Office:
- National Immigrant Justice Center: Our political asylum clients are persecuted for religious, ethnic or political reasons and flee to the United States to save their lives. We represent clients from around the world, including from Darfur, the Central African Republic, Chad, Guatemala, Mali, Sierra Leone, Tibet and Zimbabwe, to name just a few.
- St. Procopius Legal Clinic: For more than 20 years, Locke Lord attorneys have provided legal advice to low-income residents who live in the neighborhoods around St. Procopius Church. We help with matters of family law, collections defense and landlord/tenant disputes, coordinating with Chicago Volunteer Legal Services.
Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind: Our attorneys help blind and visually impaired clients with tax matters, guardianship, bankruptcy, insurance disputes, employment issues and other legal challenges.
- Center for Disability and Elder Law: We help the Center’s clients with special education and guardianship cases.
- Ladder Up: Attorneys prepare tax returns for low-income families through the Tax Assistance Program, which last year generated more than $16 million in refunds to clients.
- Northwestern University School of Law Bluhm Legal Clinic: We are currently assisting the Legal Clinic with an 8th Amendment challenge to the imposition of life without parole on a non-homicide juvenile offender. The challenge is based on the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Graham v. Florida.
- Lawyers for the Creative Arts: We help disadvantaged artists who need assistance with disputes involving intellectual property.
Our Dallas attorneys have, for many years, provided services on all types of civil matters through their longtime partnership with the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program (DVAP), which recognizes Locke Lord’s volunteerism and sponsorship each year at its Pro Bono awards gathering. In 2013, the DVAP bestowed its highest honor, a Gold Award, to the Firm. Here are a few pro bono examples from Dallas:
- Texas Appleseed: Texas Appleseed awarded Locke Lord LLP with its 2013 Pro Bono Leadership Award recognizing the Firm’s work leading to landmark reform of the criminal justice system in Texas. A team of nearly 40 Locke Lord lawyers – led by Dallas Partner Kip Mendrygal – interviewed prosecutors across Texas, analyzing their criminal discovery practices and finding systemic inconsistencies from county to county regarding what information was provided to defendants during discovery. This research led to the passage of the Michael Morton Act, a state law requiring prosecutors turn over all evidence to defense attorneys in criminal cases. The legislation was signed by Texas Governor Rick Perry in May 2013. The law was named after Michael Morton, who was wrongly convicted of killing his wife and incarcerated 25 years before being exonerated.
- South Dallas Legal Clinic: Our attorneys help low-income families by staffing the clinic and assisting clients with a broad range of consumer and domestic relations matters, including divorces, child custody, consumer credit and probate matters.
- Dallas Housing Crisis Center: Locke Lord attorneys staff this clinic at least once a month and assist low-income clients with a broad range of housing issues, including tenant/landlord disputes, contract interpretation, residential health and safety and related issues.
- Locke Lord also agreed to participate in the Northern District of Texas (Civil Division) Pro Bono Civil Case Panel, where attorneys will assist indigent clients in a broad range of civil matters pending in Dallas federal court.
- Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation: Locke Lord attorneys provide a variety of legal services for this one-of-a-kind organization, one of the few in the country that provides social services to victims of domestic violence who are predominantly from the Muslim community. Besides serving as the organization’s pro bono general counsel, Locke Lord also successfully worked toward a major grant to fund the group and toward securing donated apartments as transitional living for clients of the group. The Foundation recently recognized the Firm for its support in announcing the opening of a new domestic violence shelter later this summer.
Houston’s attorneys work closely with the Houston Bar Association and its many community programs, providing everything from free legal advice over the phone to sponsoring legal clinics throughout the city. They provide legal guidance to a local Veterans’ Initiative and also take on individual cases with international repercussions. Additional examples from Houston include:
- Equal Access to Justice: Houston attorneys are committed to handling 50 matters a year for this Houston Bar Association program.
- Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program: Our attorneys regularly sponsor legal clinics at youth centers and other facilities around Houston so disadvantaged residents can seek face-to-face advice on any number of legal questions.
- Legal Lines: Lawyers volunteer to staff a phone bank each month to handle a variety of legal issues.
Our attorneys in Austin help seek resolutions of all kinds of legal issues, including representing the rights of individual homeowners, participating in a court pilot program handling jury cases and representing criminal defendants in federal cases pursuant to court appointments.
Pro bono examples from Austin include:
- Alliance for Healthcare Representation: We handle Medicaid appeals for children and also represent clients for the group Texans for Safe Reliable Transportation.
- Volunteer Legal Services for Central Texas: Our lawyers deal with civil and family law disputes of all kinds, including staffing a regular family law clinic.
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services: We assist the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services in defending appeals of cases in which the rights of parents who abuse or neglect their children have been terminated by a trial court.
- Texas State Bar Appellate Section Pro Bono Pilot Program: Our attorneys volunteer to navigate the often complex appeals process for clients who cannot afford legal representation. An example includes our successful representation of a homeowner sued in a deed restrictions matter, a case in which the Third Court of Appeals reversed a $150,000 judgment and rendered a take-nothing judgment in favor of the homeowner.
The New Orleans office of Locke Lord has played a role in helping the Crescent City recover from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Its attorneys have handled several probate matters to clear title for properties that are eligible for the Road Home Program, which helps residents of Louisiana get back into their homes following the devastation of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In addition, the New Orleans office of Locke Lord also gives pro bono legal assistance to the New Orleans Boys Club chapter, including work on the group’s corporate restructuring.
In New York, our lawyers’ pro bono efforts helped get proper recognition for a retired firefighter who died while rescuing people in the 911 tragedy. Capt. James Corrigan’s name is part of the World Trade Center Memorial today because of the successful legal battle his family and Locke Lord fought against the city and the fire department, arguing that Corrigan, who had been actively helping with communications and rescue operations in the Lobby of the South Tower of the World Trade Center and was killed when the building collapsed, deserved inclusion as an active firefighter and a hero on 911. Locke Lord’s pro bono efforts in New York also include:
- New York City Family Court’s Self-Represented Litigants Project: Locke Lord’s New York attorneys regularly hold free consultations with self-represented litigants in the areas of custody, support, visitation, guardianship and paternity. In 2011 and 2012, we were among a handful of firms honored for donating the most hours to this program. And, a New York Partner received a 2012 Certificate of Recognition for dedicated service in the NYS Courts Access to Justice Program, which oversees the New York City Family Court Volunteer Attorney Program.
Los Angeles attorneys for Locke Lord worked for two years to gain freedom for three women in a case of human trafficking. Our attorneys on the West Coast have also worked to protect affordable housing rights for tenants and for the rights of a group of disabled medical students. Among Locke Lord’s Los Angeles pro bono cases are the following:
- Glendale Educational Foundation: Our attorneys helped the GEF form a nonprofit corporation to conduct summer school programs for middle and high school students within the Glendale Unified School District. Like many California school districts, the GUSD has not had adequate funding for summer school. Through this new organization – GEF Summer School, Inc. – and pro bono assistance from Locke Lord’s Los Angeles attorneys, nearly 2,000 students will have access to school facilities, teachers and administrators during the summer and will continue to receive critical education during this period in years to come.
- Bet Tzedek Legal Services: Our attorneys fought for two Filipino women and one Kenyan woman who were held against their wills and forced to work under unlawful conditions – no regular pay, no days off, severely limited communication with family and loved ones and the confiscation of their passports and other travel documents. The case was ultimately resolved through mediation and the women have moved on to good jobs and better lives. The cases were the subject of a video documentary, and our attorneys maintain a continuing commitment to volunteer for Bet Tzedek's Small Claims Legal Clinic.
- Disability Rights Legal Center: We volunteered to write an amicus brief on behalf of a group of five aspiring medial students with learning disabilities who had requested reasonable accommodations from the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC). Our work ensured the AAMC was not entitled to fees following appeal.
- Volunteer efforts by Los Angeles attorneys ensured that several apartment residents faced with 70 percent rent hikes were spared increased rents and instead were guaranteed affordable rental rates for the next two decades. The tenants also won the right to purchase their properties if the owners sell the apartments.
Locke Lord’s volunteer work in Washington, D.C., includes pro bono legal services to help children in the nation’s capital and to help military veterans. Examples of these pro bono efforts include:
- Children’s Law Center: Our attorneys are appointed by the D.C. Superior Court to serve as guardians ad litem representing the best interests of children in complex child custody cases. In their roles as guardians ad litem, the attorneys work collaboratively with families, schools, social services agencies, law enforcement and the courts.
- Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program: The firm’s attorneys in D.C. represent U.S. military veterans before the United States Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims.
- Junior Achievement of Greater Washington: For many years, our attorneys in Washington, D.C., have performed a variety of legal services for Junior Achievement, the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to educating students in Kindergarten through senior year about entrepreneurship, financial literacy and work readiness. A Locke Lord attorney serves on the executive board of Junior Achievement of the National Capital Area and has helped the group negotiate funding and development agreements for the construction of the organization’s first Finance Park in Fairfax County, Va.
Locke Lord has added more than a dozen attorneys to its Sacramento office in 2011 as the firm builds its West Coast presence. Among pro bono efforts that continue to develop in this growing office are volunteer legal services for the Voluntary Legal Service Program of Sacramento, which includes an employment law clinic that gives free legal advice to indigent Sacramento residents who have been victims of unlawful employment practices. We also volunteer to help fill out complaints to the Labor Commission.