Our innovative Office Pro Bono Committee structure allows lawyers in each office to shape our local practice. Our sixteen Office Pro Bono Committees are each led by a partner Chair and an associate Vice-Chair. With the support and direction of our associate talent and Chief Engagement Officer Amanda Smith, the committees serve as the internal and external face of our pro bono program in their jurisdictions. The Chairs of these committees together comprise our firmwide Pro Bono Committee which advises management on pro bono strategy and policy.
Our committees offer a unique leadership experience for young lawyers. Each year, an associate Vice-Chair is selected to help direct the office’s pro bono efforts and serve as a liaison to our firm’s associate talent and pro bono partner. Through their committee service, the Vice-Chair and other committee members direct the substantive work of our programs by forging relationships with local legal services organizations and developing meaningful pro bono projects for our lawyers.
While the committees provide opportunities to handle a wide range of pro bono work in every office, we are proud to highlight a few examples that demonstrate the breadth of our global practice.
Jason Traue serves as Chair, and Nicola Menchetti is Vice Chair of the Boston Office Pro Bono Committee. Boston’s pro bono practice is broad, ranging from counseling non-profit organizations to assisting refugees fleeing persecution in their home countries.
In addition, we recently launched an innovative partnership with the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation (NEPCF)—founded by the Kraft family, owners of The Kraft Group and the New England Patriots and a longtime client of the Boston office. The NEPCF provides assistance to families and children throughout New England by assisting programs that foster cultural diversity, education, and health initiatives. Through our pro bono alliance with the NEPCF, the firm provides much needed legal services to the organizations and individuals with which NEPCF works.
Likewise, our Hartford office is committed to helping the less fortunate members of our society. Heather Wenzel serves as Chair. Lawyers there are regularly called on to represent asylum seekers and handle numerous other matters on behalf of low income individuals.
Our California offices are active in all of our pro bono practice areas.
Our San Francisco lawyers handle immigration and asylum matters, § 1983 civil rights claims, and work for low-income entrepreneurs, among many other representations. The San Francisco office also has a substantial healthcare litigation pro bono practice and was honored with the AIDS Legal Referral Panel’s 2014 Firm of the Year Award. We are particularly proud of the San Francisco office’s partnership with the SMART Program, which targets high achieving students from economically disadvantaged areas.
Douglas Crisman chairs the Silicon Valley Pro Bono Committee. Claire Lesikar is the Vice Chair. In addition to their homelessness prevention practice advising low income individuals facing eviction and their work to obtain restraining orders on behalf of victims of domestic violence, Silicon Valley lawyers have participated in “Justice Bus” trips with OneJustice and firm client Hewlett-Packard. On these trips, Morgan Lewis lawyers travel to rural areas of California where they provide face-to-face legal advice to non-profits based in underserved regions.
David Chang and Taylor Day are the Chair and Vice Chair respectively of our Los Angeles Area Pro Bono Committee. Los Angeles lawyers have a particularly active Families & Kids practice that includes assisting low income clients with adoptions and regularly hosting and participating in conservatorship clinics run by Bet Tzedek (Justice for All).
Krista Vink Venegas serves as Chair of the Chicago Office Pro Bono Committee, and Karon Fowler is the Vice Chair. Chicago’s pro bono practice is wide-ranging. Lawyers in that office counsel non-profits and handle many individual public benefits matters. The Chicago office has a particularly strong immigration practice. One focus of that work includes helping individuals achieve Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. Lawyers in Chicago host and attend DACA clinics and provide advice to individuals compiling their DACA applications.
Our EMEAA pro bono practice has enjoyed tremendous growth in the last several years.
In London, our office committee is chaired by William Yonge with Nichola Foley in the Vice Chair role. The majority of London’s pro bono work involves advising charitable and cultural non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on a range of litigation and transactional issues. In 2020, Morgan Lewis won The Lawyer’s prestigious Pro Bono Initiative of the Year Award for obtaining a momentous victory for Save the Sutton Estate Ltd., which ended a 10-year fight to block a large housing association from tearing down the Sutton Estate community to make room for pricier properties. London is expanding its pro bono reach to include more representations of individuals. Lawyers in that office have been working on a Jamaican death penalty matter before the London Privy Council.
Our Moscow office’s pro bono practice is well-known and award-winning. Under the direction of committee Chair, Anastasia Dergacheva, Moscow’s pro bono work involves providing employment and corporate advice and counsel to a range of NGOs. These organizational clients serve the homeless, orphans and at-risk youth, the physically and mentally disabled, and other populations in need. We provide critical legal services that allow our clients to continue to do their good work. In recognition of the tremendous contributions of our Moscow lawyers, PILNet recognized us with its 2013 Pro Bono Award.In addition, we counsel NGOs in many of our other European offices and are actively working to expand our pro bono practice in Tokyo, Dubai, and other EMEAA jurisdictions.
Clay Carlton is the Chair of the Miami pro bono committee and Martha Leibell is Vice Chair. Lawyers in Miami participate in Dade County Bar Association’s Legal Line clinic. During this monthly phone clinic, lawyers answer basic legal questions and provide limited advice on a broad range of topics affecting low-income individuals in the Miami Dade area.
The New York Office Pro Bono Committee is led by Chair Lisa Valentovish, with Kathryn Ball as Vice Chair. New York’s pro bono practice reflects the diverse strengths of that office. Lawyers in New York regularly assist non-profit organizations with formation and corporate governance issues and also provide much-needed labor and employment advice to those organizations. Most recently, the New York Office’s historic accomplishments on behalf of non-profit clients were recognized with the Lawyers Alliance for New York’s 2014 Cornerstone Award. In addition, many New York lawyers handle uncontested family law matters and help survivors of domestic violence adjust their immigration status under the Violence Against Women Act.
Led by Chair Stephanie Feingold and Vice Chair Tanya Shah, the Princeton Office Pro Bono Committee works to develop interesting and varied pro bono projects for its lawyers. Princeton also enjoys a robust non-profit counseling practice. Most recently, Princeton lawyers assisted an adult literacy non-profit in a merger transaction and negotiated a licensing agreement on behalf of an organization that raises money for cancer research. Princeton lawyers also participate in various clinics including advising victims of Superstorm Sandy who lost their homes and businesses along the New Jersey shore.
Chair Colby Smith and Vice Chair Brian Morris lead our Philadelphia office pro bono committee. In addition to its strong asylum practice, the Philadelphia office has an ongoing partnership with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project focused on identifying and representing individuals who may have been wrongfully convicted. We have a long-standing relationship with Philadelphia's Support Center for Child Advocates through which we represent neglected and abused children. In addition, we handle prisoner Section 1983 civil rights cases referred to the firm by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Celia Soehner serves as the Chair of the Pittsburgh committee. Maureen Barber is the Vice Chair. Pittsburgh lawyers assist abused clients referred to the firm by the Neighborhood Legal Services Association who are seeking Protection from Abuse orders. Our lawyers also staff an Education Law Center limited advice clinic where they advise parents on special education issues.
Morgan Lewis has active pro bono committees in our two Texas offices.
The Chair of our Houston pro bono committee is John Petrelli and the Vice Chair is Veronica Lew. Lawyers in Houston work in all areas of pro bono immigration practice including traditional asylum work on behalf of refugees, applications for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Adjustments of status pursuant to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The office is also committed to providing pro bono legal services to needy families and children in the Houston area.
Dallas pro bono committee Chair Carrie Rief and Vice Chair Clayton Davis lead a diverse pro bono program. Dallas lawyers provide employment counseling to non-profits that serve low income populations, assist veterans of the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan obtain the full benefits to which they are entitled, help low income women obtain adjustments of their immigration status pursuant to VAWA and, most notably, handle a number of high profile First Amendment appellate matters.
Brad Fagg serves as Chair and Drew Jordan is the Vice Chair. Our Washington practice is diverse, ranging from individual representations to large scale class actions and impact litigation. Our public benefits practice is broad and deep. Our lawyers are active participants in the DC Bar’s Advocacy and Justice Clinic through which we assist low income tenants fighting potential eviction by their landlords and represent individuals in their claims for social security disability benefits.