Locke Lord has a rich and long-standing 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.
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 lawyers, pro bono truly matters. Here are just a few recent examples of our pro bono activities across several of our offices:
In Boston, we have assisted numerous artists, authors and arts organizations with various legal issues for more than 15 years through the Arts & Business Council Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts program. The Arts & Business Council provides quality direct legal and business services and ongoing educational programs to the creative community within Massachusetts. Additionally, we represent indigent defendants accused of federal crimes through the Criminal Justice Act (CJA), often representing five or six CJA clients at a time. The Boston office also supports the following organizations with pro bono activities:
- Bridge Over Troubled Waters: Since the 1980s, Boston lawyers have provided real estate legal services to Bridge Over Troubled Waters, which works with homeless teens in Boston, providing counseling, support and housing, and promoting education and job training.
- Casa Esperanza: The Boston office has provided Casa Esperanza, a bilingual/bicultural behavioral health facility, with real estate, governance and employment knowledge and experience for more than 20 years.
- CelloBello Inc.: Boston lawyers assist CelloBello Inc., an organization dedicated to teaching cello and exposing children and adults to music, with its website needs and establishment as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
- Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice: Boston lawyers work with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice to advise minority, immigrant and low-income entrepreneurs and small business owners on entity formation, corporate governance, contract drafting, licensing and financing matters.
- Massachusetts Advocates for Children: The Boston office is the long time counsel to Massachusetts Advocates for Children, an independent and effective voice for children who face significant barriers to equal educational and life opportunities, particularly those who have disabilities, are low income and/or are racially, culturally, or linguistically diverse.
- TransCultural Exchange: The Boston office also serves as Firm counsel to TransCultural Exchange, whose mission is to foster a greater understanding of world cultures through high-quality art projects, cultural exchanges and educational programming, most notably, a biennale International Conference on Opportunities in the Arts.
In Chicago, Locke Lord lawyers 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, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to offering pipeline programs directly aimed at inspiring young students and increasing diversity in the legal profession and judiciary. 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 2016 Pro Bono Recognition Roster and as the 2015 Volunteer Law Firm of the Year by the Center for Disability & Elder Law.
- St. Procopius Legal Clinic: For more than 30 years, Locke Lord lawyers 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.
- 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. Read about one of our latest cases here.
- Re-Sentencing Hearing for Juvenile Mandatory Life Sentence Inmate: Locke Lord lawyers served as pro bono legal counsel to a Chicago-area man previously sentenced to life without parole for a crime committed as a juvenile. Read more about the case here.
- Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind: Our lawyers 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 guardianship cases.
- Ladder Up: Lawyers prepare tax returns for low-income families through the Tax Assistance Program.
- Lawyers for the Creative Arts: We help disadvantaged artists who need assistance with disputes involving intellectual property.
- Consumers in Pet Store Lawsuit: Locke Lord, along with co-counsel from the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Humane Society of the United States, reached a settlement in a pro bono consumer lawsuit against Furry Babies, Inc., a Chicago-area pet store chain. Read more about the case here.
Our Dallas lawyers 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. The DVAP bestowed its highest honor, a Gold Award, to the Firm.
- Texas Appleseed: Texas Appleseed awarded Locke Lord with its 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 lawyers in criminal cases.
- Dallas Housing Crisis Center: Locke Lord lawyers 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 participates in the Northern District of Texas (Civil Division) Pro Bono Civil Case Panel, where lawyers assist indigent clients in a broad range of civil matters pending in Dallas federal court.
- Texas Muslim Women's Foundation: Locke Lord lawyers 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 Firm was also a supporter of the Foundation’s Peace in the Home program campaign from which funds were used to complete a domestic violence shelter.
Houston's lawyers 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 at youth centers and other facilities around Houston so disadvantaged residents can seek face-to-face advice on any number of legal questions.
- Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program: Locke Lord was named an Equal Access to Justice Champion during the 2016-2017 Bar year for being a model for pro bono legal services in the community.
- Legal Lines: Lawyers volunteer to staff a phone bank each month to handle a variety of legal issues.
Below is a snapshot of some of the diverse pro bono efforts our Los Angeles lawyers are engaged in throughout the community:
- Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA): Los Angles lawyers serve as CASAs sworn in by Los Angeles Dependency Court judges to investigate and advocate for the best interest of children in the foster care system.
- Southern California Counseling Center: Our lawyers serve as pro bono legal counsel to the Southern California Counseling Center, which provides comprehensive counseling to low-income men, women and children by providing services to address trauma, loss and grief, family conflict, parent/child problems, domestic violence, work difficulties, gang violence and disorders such as depression, anxiety and PTSD.
- The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles: Los Angeles lawyers represent The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in trademark filings relating to the museum’s name and logo.
- Community-Based Non-Profits: The Firm has represented community-based non-profits pro bono in connection with the preservation of privately owned and publicly subsidized affordable housing projects, including the refinancing of two properties containing 25 affordable housing units being rehabilitated by Venice Community Housing Corporation.
- First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood: Los Angeles lawyers represented First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood in consolidating its real estate surrounding the church by an exchange of properties.
Our lawyers in Austin are actively engaged in pro bono organizations, including:
- Volunteer Legal Services for Central Texas (VLS): For over 20 years, Locke Lord lawyers have handled numerous civil cases for VLS, the Austin Bar’s local access-to-justice organization. Each summer, Locke Lord participates in VLS’s Family Law Clinic, which matches low-income clients who need representation in family-law matters with volunteer lawyers. We also represent VLS clients resolve other types of civil disputes. In recognition of its efforts, Locke Lord was honored as a Pro Bono Champion at the 2018 and 2016 Judge Suzanne Covington Pro Bono Service Awards and as a Pro Bono Leader in 2017.
- Texas Community Building With Attorney Resources (Texas C-BAR): Texas C-BAR provides pro bono business law services to organizations working to improve the quality of life in low-income neighborhoods. In recent years, Locke Lord lawyers have volunteered over 100 hours to Texas C-BAR in support of The Jeremiah Program, an organization that provides affordable housing, child care, and supportive services to single mothers committing to expand their education and workforce opportunities to end the cycle of poverty.
- Texas State Bar Appellate Section Pro Bono Pilot Program: Locke Lord lawyers also represent low-income clients in a variety of civil appeals. In recent years, we have helped a single mother overturn a judgment awarding over $150,000 in fees that were improperly assessed by a homeowners association. We have also helped a college student reinstate a personal injury lawsuit that was erroneously dismissed.
- American Bar Association Breast Cancer Initiatives Group: Locke Lord lawyers develop and participate in workshops across the country to train lawyers on the laws they need to know to provide pro bono legal services to cancer patients and survivors. We also draft and regularly update a manual which addresses the legal issues cancer patients face and what the law says which is provided to lawyers and patients. Lastly, we work with the Cancer Legal Resource Center to assist in trying to provide legal services to cancer patients.
The New Orleans office of Locke Lord 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 regularly hold free consultations with self-represented litigants in the areas of custody, support, visitation, guardianship and paternity on behalf of the New York City Family Court’s Self-Represented Litigants Project.
In Providence, we place an emphasis on education and assist numerous schools and their students including the San Miguel School, Community Preparatory School, the French American School, the Urban Collaborative, Dorcas Place, the Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School, Brown University and the Roger Williams University Law School. The assistance occurs at many levels from board representation and participation to projects requiring legal work to tutoring and reading programs. The office has supported the Brown University Embark Fellowship program, which provides grants to graduate students who are pursuing an entrepreneurial venture intended to address a problem in society. Some of the assistance also includes immigration assistance through the Roger Williams University Pro Bono Collaborative. The H.O.P.E. Court program is another program in which the Providence office participates to help paroled inmates work toward re-entry into society. The Providence office is also engaged in other pro bono activities that benefit local communities (West Broadway Neighborhood Association), the environment and nature (Blithewold), the coastal habitat (Save the Bay), students in K through 12 (Junior Achievement), and many other local, regional and national organizations.
Below are some examples of pro bono efforts our Stamford and Hartford lawyers are engaged in throughout their communities:
- Connecticut Veterans Legal Center: Lawyers in the Firm’s Stamford office provide pro bono services to military veterans and low-income families in need by assisting with discharge upgrades. Many veterans deserve benefits for their service but are denied because the military discharged them at a lower status than they deserved. The Firm’s lawyers help guide them through the process of upgrading their discharge status, providing sound legal advice.
- Connecticut Legal Services (CLS): Stamford lawyers assist those in need through CLS, which focuses on cases for people who are not able to represent themselves adequately. In particular, Locke Lord assists these individuals with legal advice when they are getting evicted.
- Keep the Power on Clinics: Locke Lord lawyers from the Firm’s Hartford and Stamford offices volunteer at Keep the Power On Clinics, hosted in conjunction with the Center for Children’s Advocacy Medical/Legal Partnership Project. The clinic is available a few times throughout the year and is aimed to help families avoid utility termination and help them enter into affordable payment arrangements with gas and electric companies in Connecticut.
- Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA): Through VLA, a legal aid and education organization dedicated to New York artists and its arts and cultural organizations, Stamford lawyers assist those in need with patent guidance and advice.
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.
- Children's Law Center: Our lawyers 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 lawyers work collaboratively with families, schools, social services agencies, law enforcement and the courts. Children’s Law Center named Locke Lord a 2017 Champion for Children, which recognizes our commitment to advance the well-being of children by promoting pro bono service and advocating for greater giving within the Firm.