Public Interest & Pro Bono

Public Interest & Pro Bono

From our inception, we have put public interest and pro bono work at the heart of our values, believing resolutely that we could be both high-achieving, leave-it-all-on-the-floor commercial litigators and fierce advocates on the issues that shape our society. We are committed to practicing law to make a difference, whether by working in communities where good legal representation is in short supply, taking on pro bono individual and class representations, providing meaningful support for existing organizations, or by partnering with federal and state justice officials to identify cases that might benefit from our expertise through public-private partnerships.

Social impact leaders

In 2021, Law360 named our firm the legal industry’s “Social Impact Leader” for the most pro bono hours worked per attorney. With nearly three-quarters of our attorneys exceeding the American Bar Association’s benchmark recommendation of 50 pro bono hours annually, we placed #1 on a list that included 100 of the nation’s top firms. Moreover, we were the only firm to average more than 200 pro bono hours per attorney.

Some of our recent public interest work includes:

  • Protecting the rights of public service workers against a student loan servicer that misled them about their loan forgiveness options and discouraged them from pursuing income-based repayment plans.
  • Authoring an amicus brief on behalf of Constitutional scholar and former Harvard Law School Dean, Martha Minow, on the history of Brown v. Board of Education. In a monumental ruling, relying closely on the analysis proffered in our brief, the Sixth Circuit recognized for the first time in our nation’s history an explicit fundamental right to a minimally adequate education under the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution. 
  • Representing a group of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims’ families, in Alabama Bankruptcy Court, seeking to preserve claims brought against Remington Outdoor Co. in its chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.
  • Helping residential solar customers get fair payments for power they export to the grid by representing their agents in the renewable energy market.
  • Challenging the conditions of detention and lack of medical treatment in California prisons by representing a prisoner in a federal appeal.
  • Successfully defending a ban enacted by New Jersey in 2013 on the practice of so-called sexual orientation change efforts or conversion therapies on minors by state-licensed professionals.
  • Filing an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of the United States on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union in a case addressing whether the Constitution requires an insanity defense to criminal prosecution.

Over the years, our lawyers have developed a strong track record of protecting the public interest through cases that represent our values, including:

  • Representing the Federal Housing Finance Agency in a one-month securities fraud trial in the Southern District of New York, successfully obtaining over $800 million for U.S. taxpayers. The court’s 361-page decision shone a harsh spotlight on industry-standard practices in the period leading to the Great Recession, holding that “the magnitude of falsity, conservatively estimated, was enormous.” The judgment was unanimously affirmed by the Second Circuit and the Supreme Court of the United States denied certiorari.
  • Securing a trial victory as co-counsel with the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in a precedent-setting methylmercury pollution case under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
  • Successfully defending New York City charter schools against suits challenging their ability to co-locate in Department of Education school buildings and demanding they pay rent to the DOE, obtaining denials of preliminary injunctions in both instances.
  • Successfully defending a consent decree governing the delivery of medical services to Medicaid-eligible children in Tennessee in the Sixth Circuit.
  • Representing a foundation that benefits elementary schools in uncovering a Ponzi scheme run as a hedge fund, resulting in the arrest of the principal, as well as jail time and seizure of assets.
  • Successfully defending a woman who was the victim of abuse against a claim that, if it had been successful, would have rendered her insolvent.
  • Representing plaintiffs in appeals of Section 1983 and sentencing matters and submitting amicus briefs in the Supreme Court of the United States on behalf of corrections professionals opposed to solitary confinement practices.
  • Representing a class of psychiatric inpatients and emergency room patients at a large metropolitan New York City hospital in constitutional litigation challenging inhumane conditions of care, and obtaining, along with the Department of Justice, a groundbreaking consent judgment entered by the Eastern District of New York.