As a proud signatory to the Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge, Kaye Scholer views pro bono work as an essential part of our core values and collaborative culture.
Beyond our commitment to, and belief in, the importance of justice and legal parity, an active pro bono practice promotes skills training and exposure to increased responsibilities among associates and enables all lawyers to fulfill their professional obligation to provide pro bono legal service on an annual basis.
The needs of low-income, oppressed, victimized, falsely accused or other disenfranchised individuals who lack access to quality legal representation far exceed what any one law firm can provide. To maximize the impact of our pro bono work, we partner with a select number of highly dedicated and established nonprofit organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Lawyers Alliance for New York, LatinoJustice, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Public Counsel, The Legal Aid Society, and Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. These organizations help us identify pro bono clients who not only have the greatest need but, based on the specific facts and unique circumstances of each client, are also most likely to benefit from the type of legal work and experience our lawyers offer.
By the Numbers
251 Kaye Scholer lawyers contributed 20,980 hours to assisting pro bono clients in 2013, including, but not limited to:
- Devoting more than 3,500 hours to trying to win a reprieve for a mentally disabled death row prisoner with no prior history of violence who had been ordered by the state to represent himself in his own post-conviction proceedings
- Providing tax counsel to 20 nonprofit organizations
- Securing asylum or resettlement in the US for a Congolese HIV+ victim of genital mutilation, a gay man from Russia, a Haitian child and an Ecuadorian child
- Restoring titles to the homes of three families who were duped by scam artists
- Helping secure Medicaid coverage for crucial therapeutic treatments for 3 autistic children
- Negotiating a settlement worth approximately seven times the client’s salary after he was fired for claiming age discrimination
- Helping 10 transgender individuals obtain formal name changes so that their legal identities now conform to the way they self-identify
- Providing regulatory counsel to 12 solar power cooperatives to advocate for and enact first-of-its-kind legislation that allows densely populated urban communities to use roofs and other architecture to create local solar farms
While we encourage and support myriad pro bono opportunities so that our lawyers can pursue those projects most meaningful to them personally or professionally, we focus on six key areas:
Death Penalty Appeals
We are particularly proud of our 40-year tradition of taking on difficult habeas and clemency petitions for indigent death row inmates; we have argued several of these cases before the US Supreme Court.
Social Entrepreneurship & Nonprofit Support
In partnership with Echoing Green, an organization that provides seed funding and other necessary tools to social entrepreneurs around the world, we offer pro bono legal counsel to Echoing Green’s Fellows and US alumni who have established companies to benefit society. We also advise many nonprofits on contract, corporate, employment, IP and real estate issues.
Immigration & Asylum
We assist refugees from around the world who are fleeing persecution due to their political opinions, religious affiliation, sexual orientation or other specific grounds, and seeking asylum in the US. We also represent immigrant victims of domestic violence, unaccompanied alien minors and children applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.
Social Security Disability Benefits
Since 2000, we have represented more than 100 low-income disabled children and adults seeking disability benefits.
Transgender Name Changes
We help transgender clients navigate the legal process of completing a formal name change, which is often the first step toward conforming their legal identities to the way they identify and live their lives.
Virtual Pro Bono Law Firm
Launched in early 2014, in partnership with long-time client Pfizer Inc, this program is for retired partners and special counsel who possess both the senior-level experience and availability to tackle highly complex pro bono cases that will significantly transform or change society.
Pro Bono Fellowships
We also provide financial support to enable other lawyers and law students to deliver pro bono assistance, particularly when it comes to pioneering new programs or reaching underserved populations.
Equal Justice Works
We have sponsored four Equal Justice Works Fellows; our fifth Fellow will start in September 2014.
Legal Advocacy for People with Cancer Clinic (Detroit)
Kaye Scholer recently partnered with long-time client Pfizer Inc to sponsor a Fellow at the Wayne State University School of Law who created a free legal clinic that has enabled more than 100 cancer patients and their families to obtain public benefits, helping patients retain their jobs and homes while their cancer treatment is ongoing. The clinic also offers advice on estate planning and long-term health care needs. In January 2014, the program became part of the law school’s regular curriculum, allowing law students to earn six credits by working at the clinic, the first of its kind in Michigan and one of the first in the nation to serve cancer victims.
ACLU of Illinois Children’s Initiative (Chicago)
Kaye Scholer and Pfizer also co-sponsored a Fellow whose goal was to improve education and mental health services for the 1,200 children incarcerated in the eight juvenile prisons in Illinois. She and her colleagues filed a class action against the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, reaching a settlement that mandated an eight-month review of prison conditions. The court-appointed experts in the case submitted reports that confirmed suspected problems with the system. These reports served as a basis for a detailed remedial order mandating specific solutions to problems such as a shortage of mental health professionals and teachers, and excessive use of solitary confinement.
Pro Bono Counsel
+1 212 836 7037
Manager of Pro Bono & Community Affairs