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:
Our lawyers in Austin are actively engaged in pro bono work on behalf of many 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.
- Travis County Women Lawyers’ Association (TCWLA): Austin Partners Susan Kidwell and Cynthia Bast have both been recipients of the Pro Bono Attorney Award from TCWLA. Attorney award honorees are nominated by their peers and selected based on their contributions to the legal profession, their service to the local community and the positive atmosphere they create in the workplace.
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 direct legal and business services and ongoing educational programs to the creative community in Massachusetts. Locke Lord lawyers represent indigent defendants accused of federal crimes through the Criminal Justice Act (CJA), often representing multiple CJA clients at once. 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: For more than 20 years, the Boston office has counseled Casa Esperanza, a bilingual/bicultural behavioral health facility on real estate, governance and employment issues.
- 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’ for Civil Rights (LCR): Boston lawyers work with LCR 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 (MAC): The Boston office is the long-time counsel to MAC, a private nonprofit organization dedicated to being an independent and effective voice for children who face significant barriers to equal educational and life opportunities.
- 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 biannual International Conference on Opportunities in the Arts.
Chicago's pro bono efforts also include work for Just the Beginning, a nonprofit organization dedicated to offering pipeline programs to inspire young students and increase diversity in the legal profession and judiciary. Chicago lawyers also handle legal matters for Equip for Equality and Cabrini Green Legal Aid pro bono. 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. A number of other noteworthy pro bono projects in the Chicago office are listed below:
- 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. They 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.
- New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty: Locke Lord lawyers provided pro bono support to families and school districts as a state court in New Mexico ruled that New Mexico’s education system violated the state constitution. Read more about the case here.
The Firm's 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 has previously bestowed its highest honor, a Gold Award, to the Firm three years in a row. A sampling of the Dallas office's other pro bono projects are listed below:
- Representation of client in landmark civil case Doe v. Sheikh: In what is the most significant civil case to date in the United States involving sexual abuse by a Muslim cleric, a Locke Lord team received a judgment of $2.5 million in damages on behalf of pro bono client Jane Doe. Read more about the case here.
- Texas Appleseed: In the past, Texas Appleseed has 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.
- Advocates for Community Transformation (ACT): In partnership with ACT, Locke Lord lawyers negotiated and organized residential and curbside improvements in South Dallas. Read more about this here.
Houston's lawyers work closely with the Houston Bar Association and its many community programs, participating in activities such as giving free legal advice over the phone and 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. Examples of Houston's many pro bono projects include:
- 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. Houston Associate Emma Doineau was honored with a 2019 Outstanding Pro Bono Achievement award from Houston Volunteer Lawyers for her work on a pro bono tax case that resulted in her client being awarded over $200,000 in refund checks from the IRS.
- 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:
- Kids in Need of Defense (KIND): Los Angeles lawyers have served as pro bono counsel for clients of KIND, an organization that protects unaccompanied children who enter the U.S. immigration system alone. Click here to read more about the Firm’s involvement in the case of an unaccompanied minor who was granted asylum in the U.S.
- 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.
The New Orleans office 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, here are some of the pro bono projects lawyers have taken on:
- San Miguel School, Community Preparatory School, French American School, Urban Collaborative, Dorcas Place, Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School, and Brown University Roger Williams University Law School: The office assists numerous schools at many levels, including board representation, projects requiring legal work, tutoring and reading programs.
- Roger Williams University Pro Bono Collaborative: Locke Lord lawyers provide immigration assistance through this program.
- H.O.P.E. Court: Providence office lawyers participate to help paroled inmates work toward re-entry into society.
- Ronald McDonald House: Locke Lord lawyers provided pro bono representation to Ronald McDonald House of Providence in its merger with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern New England. Now known as Ronald McDonald House of New England, the organization provides housing and medical programs for children and their families while the children are in the hospital.
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.
The Washington, D.C., office works with the Children’s Law Center as court-appointed 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.