A fundamental component of our culture is our tradition that strongly encourages and values pro bono work. We have a long history of commitment to providing free legal services to low-income persons and in matters of public interest. Pro bono activities at our offices around the world cover the full range of public interest work, from staffing legal service clinics and counseling hundreds of nonprofit organizations to handling high-impact litigation. Our greatest efforts have focused on children in poverty and school education issues, civil rights and civil liberties cases, international human rights and political asylum, environmental matters, access to justice, and housing issues.
We believe it is an essential part of a lawyer's professional responsibility to perform pro bono work and engage in other activities that benefit the community. We treat our pro bono work in the same manner as our billable work, including applying the same quality standards. At MoFo, the dedication and passion of our lawyers and their exacting standards for pro bono service are a matter of pride.
The National Legal Aid & Defender Association honored the firm with its 2015 Beacon of Justice Award for its significant contribution to expanding opportunities for those unable to afford counsel. The firm's nomination focused on its direct service to low-income entrepreneurs and small businesses, corporate and finance work for nonprofits involved in microfinance and community development, and corporate and finance work for nonprofits that are helping individuals become financially independent through increased educational opportunities or expanded skills that make it more likely they will find employment.
Legal Services NYC named Morrison & Foerster recognized Morrison & Foerster with its Pro Bono Leadership Award as one of its top 25 pro bono partners in 2014. Legal Services NYC is the nation's largest organization that is devoted exclusively to providing free civil legal services to poor people.
The D.C. Circuit Judicial Conference recognized the Washington, D.C. office of Morrison & Foerster for achieving its "40 at 50" standard, with more than 40% of the office's lawyers contributing at least 50 hours of pro bono service last year. MoFo was one of 23 law firms honored at a breakfast that featured Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ?and U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson
The National Law Journal named J. Alexander Lawrence to its annual Pro Bono Hot List for his work with the Center for Reproductive Rights defending Texas womens access to safe and legal abortion.
London employment attorney Caroline Stakim receives the Lawyer of the Year Award from TrustLaw, Thomson Reuters Foundation's global pro bono service. Lawyers, judges, and representatives of NGOs from around the world attended the awards ceremony in London. TrustLaw invited nominations for this honor from the NGOs and social enterprises around the world that it connects to pro bono attorneys. Two pro bono clients nominated Caroline: You Make It Ltd., which promotes entrepreneurship among young people, and StudentHubs, which encourages social activism among students.
Morrison & Foerster is named by Who's Who Legal as one of ten firms that are "clear frontrunners" who are "setting the benchmark for others to follow" in pro bono practice. The firm won praise for taking its pro bono commitment "to a new level by adopting a formal expectation that every lawyer provide an average of at least 25 hours of pro bono services per year." Who's Who Legal is published by the London-based Law Business Research Ltd.
Morrison & Foerster is named to the Law 360 Pro Bono Firms of the Year, for the fifth year in a row. The list recognizes the top pro bono firms in the country, based on a record of pro bono victories, a willingness to tackle tough pro bono cases, and an overall outstanding commitment to pro bono work.
Human Rights First gave New York litigation attorney Adam Hunt its Pro Bono Star Award for excellence in legal advocacy on behalf of his asylum client from Congo. After winning asylum, Adam undertook extraordinary efforts to verify his client's adoption of his deceased brother's four children so they, too, could gain asylum in the U.S.
Equal Rights Advocates (ERA) honored Morrison & Foerster with its Pioneer of Justice Law Firm Award for MoFo's 40 years of strategic partnership with ERA. Among other work, Palo Alto partner Marc Peters has led a team evaluating Title IX compliance in 116 schools. The result will be a report and tool kit that will assist thousands of educators, parents, girls and young women across the country.
Legal Services for Children recognized San Francisco attorney James Schurz with its Pro Bono Leadership Award, for the extraordinary commitment to Bay Area children that he has demonstrated by enthusiastically encouraging Morrison & Foerster lawyers to represent Legal Services for Children's clients.
The Northern California Innocence Project gave James Brosnahan its pro bono award for courageously stepping forward to represent George Souliotes on the retrial of three murder charges with fewer than two months to prepare. According to the Innocence Project, having "one of the most respected and recognized trial lawyers in the country lead this trial was the most incredible gift imaginable." After Brosnahan won exclusion of faulty evidence, prosecutors reached an agreement that exonerated Souliotes and freed him after 16 years behind bars.
Super Lawyers recognized Morrison & Foerster with a 2013 Pro Bono Award for the firm's leadership in the Civil Gideon movement, which advocates establishing a right to counsel in civil cases that involve basic human needs such as housing, custody, safety, and health. The firm donated its cash prize of $5,000 to our pro bono partners Public Counsel and the Justice and Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco.
The Federal Pro Bono Project in conjunction with the Bar Association of San Francisco and the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California gave its Outstanding Public Service Award to San Francisco attorneys James Schurz and Robert Petraglia. The attorneys were recognized for their skilled lawyering representing homeless plaintiffs in Arcata, CA and achieving "policy changes that greatly improve conditions for the homeless in Arcata and Humboldt County. These changes include amendments to the City's ordinances that were challenged, better services for homeless people living outdoors, and greater free speech protections."
Morrison & Foerster was recognized as Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year in Fairfax County by the Fairfax Bar Association. The award recognizes our Northern Virginia office for a level of pro bono commitment that "stands as a model for other law firms."
The Justice & Diversity Center of The Bar Association of San Francisco presented the firm with its Right to Civil Counsel Leader Award for the firm's commitment to providing pro bono legal services in cases involving basic human needs, including housing, child custody, sustenance, safety, and health.
The East Bay (California) Community Law Center honored Morrison & Foerster, The Morrison & Foerster Foundation, and former Senior Pro Bono Counsel Kathi Pugh as "stalwart partners" in its work.
The Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project presented Morrison & Foerster with its Leap for Justice award, recognizing the firm's contributions to the organization's work during its first decade of existence.
The Alameda County Bar Association Volunteer Legal Services Corporation honored Morrison & Foerster with its Guardians of Justice Award.
The New York State Courts Access to Justice Program recognized senior pro bono counsel Jennifer Brown with an award for "outstanding work and dedicated pro bono service." Brown directs Morrison & Foerster's participation in the New York City Family Court Volunteer Lawyer Program, which provides brief advice to unrepresented litigants in family court.
Casa Cornelia in San Diego honored Morrison & Foerster with its La Mancha Law Firm of the Year Award for the firm's extraordinary level of pro bono legal services to indigent immigrant victims of human and civil rights violations. Attorneys Christian Andreu-von Euw, Jeffery David, Steve Keane, Pamela McElroy, and Drew Woodmansee received special recognition for their pro bono contributions.
At its La Mancha Awards, Casa Cornelia in San Diego honored Morrison & Foerster associates Christian Andreu-von Euw and Jeffrey David for their high level of pro bono service in asylum matters.
The Western Center on Law and Poverty bestowed The Earl Johnson Equal Justice Award on San Francisco senior litigation partner James Brosnahan, recognizing his lifelong body of achievement as a national leader advancing equal justice.
The National Legal Aid & Defender Association honored the firm with its 2012 Beacon of Justice Award for its significant contribution to securing and expanding the right to counsel first recognized by the Gideon v. Wainwright decision 50 years ago. Washington, D.C. Managing Partner Bradley Lui accepted the award on behalf of the firm.
Morrison & Foerster is named to the Law 360 Pro Bono Firms of the Year, for the fourth year in a row. The list recognizes the top pro bono firms in the country, based on a record of pro bono victories, a willingness to tackle tough pro bono cases, and an overall outstanding commitment to pro bono work. MoFo is one of only three firms to appear on the Law 360 list in each year since it was inaugurated in 2010.
The American Judicature Society presented a certificate of appreciation to Morrison & Foerster at its annual lunch during the American Bar Association convention in San Francisco. MoFo assisted the Society in its recent move to affiliate with Vanderbilt Law School in Nashville, Tennessee. The American Judicature Society, now 100 years old, is a membership organization comprised of judges, lawyers, and members of the public that promotes an independent and qualified judiciary and a fair system of justice.
The Asian Law Caucus (ALC) recognized the firm as its Pro Bono Honoree for our work on a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed on behalf of the ALC, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Congratulations to Raj Chaterjee, Angela Kleine, Debra Urteaga, Stefan Szpajda, and Daisy Belle Visitacion for their work on this matter.
The New York State Bar Association awarded the New York office its President's Pro Bono Service Award, for making an outstanding contribution to ensuring that low-income New Yorkers have equal access to justice.
The Asian Law Caucus named Morrison & Foerster its Pro Bono Honoree.
The AIDS Legal Referral Panel recognized the firm with a certificate of appreciation for its generous participation in the Pro Bono Connections Initiative.
The Global Language Project honored Morrison & Foerster for its pro bono assistance to the organization.
The Legal Aid Society of San Mateo presented Morrison & Foerster with its Guardian of Justice Award.
The Brooklyn Family Defense Project presented a pro bono excellence award to Morrison & Foerster, honoring the firm's partnership with the Project as "crucial to upholding our vision of legal and social justice for low-income families."
Casa Cornelia in San Diego honored Morrison & Foerster with its La Mancha Law Firm of the Year Award for the firm's extraordinary level of pro bono legal services to indigent immigrant victims of human and civil rights violations.
The United States District Court for the Northern District of California honored Morrison & Foerster for its high level of participation in the Federal Pro Bono Project.
New York litigation partner Jamie Levitt is featured in a New York Law Journal special supplement, "Lawyers Who Lead By Example." Levitt, former Chair of the firm's Pro Bono Committee, is recognized for her "particular passion for defending vulnerable populations against fraud, even in the most controversial matters," and her leadership on the boards of several public interest legal organizations.
American Lawyer honors James Brosnahan with a Lifetime Achiever Award. Mr. Brosnahan is one of only eight attorneys to receive the award this year, which honors outstanding private sector success and a devotion to public service. Am Law highlights Mr. Brosnahan's pro bono accomplishments, including his advocacy for a Mexican housewife accused of helping Central American refugees escape into the United States-although convicted, she served no prison time-and alleged Irish Republican Army member Kevin Artt, whom Brosnahan represented in extradition proceedings-a case close to Brosnahan's heart, given his Irish roots. Mr. Brosnahan is also recognized for founding the Volunteer Legal Services Program of the Bar Association of San Francisco in 1977.
Morrison & Foerster is named to the Law 360 Pro Bono Firms of 2012 list for the third year in a row. The list recognizes the top twenty pro bono firms in the country, based on a record of pro bono victories, a willingness to tackle tough pro bono cases, and an overall outstanding commitment to pro bono work. MoFo is one of only four firms to appear on the Law 360 list in each year since it was inaugurated in 2010.
Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA) selected the firm to receive the 2012 S. Jeanne Hall Pro Bono Service Award for its exceptional pro bono service through the support of its programs and individual cases as well as hosting VLA's Art & Law Residency since the program began in 2009.
The Legal Aid Society of San Diego gave the firm its Outstanding Volunteer Service Award for its contribution to pro bono services in 2011-2012.
The AIDS Legal Referral Panel recognized Keith Wetmore with its 2012 James C. Hormel Philanthropist Award for Morrison & Foerster's many years of outstanding service to ALRP.
Starlight Children's Foundation honored the firm with its 2012 Jacki Carlish Humanitarian Award in recognition of over 20 years of pro bono services valued at over $3 million. Since 1991, attorneys in several of our California offices, Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, New York, and London have represented Starlight in intellectual property matters, employment issues, real estate leasing, trademark and general corporate matters.
The McCarton Foundation for Developmental Disabilities honored Morrison & Foerster for its extensive pro bono contributions to the Foundation's work with children with autism, at its Celebration of Learning Gala.
The Daily Journal named San Francisco associate Rita Lin to its list of top women lawyers for 2012 in recognition of her work as co-counsel with Lambda Legal in Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management, which challenges the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on behalf of a federal district court employee who was rebuffed when she sought to enroll her same-sex spouse on her federal employee health plan.
The New York State Bar Association recognized Natalie Fleming Nolen with its 2012 President's Pro Bono Service Award in the Young Lawyer Category for her work on behalf of immigrants and refugees, including winning humanitarian parole for Haitian victims of rape and obtaining special immigrant juvenile status for minors who were facing deportation from the United States.
The HIV Law Project in New York gave Morrison & Foerster its Distinguished Pro Bono Award, citing the firm's lengthy and successful representation of an HIV positive man who was threatened with eviction from his home.
Arturo Gonzalez was honored as Attorney of the Year by Centro Legal de la Raza, for advancing the rights of immigrant, low-income and Latino communities through legal representation, education and advocacy.
The Federal D.C. Circuit Judicial Conference Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services honored the firm's Washington, D.C. office at the annual 40 at 50 Judicial Pro Bono Recognition Breakfast, recognizing that at least 40 percent of the attorneys in that office performed 50 hours or more of pro bono work during 2011.
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals and Superior Court of the District of Columbia named 37 lawyers from Morrison & Foerster's Washington, D.C. office to the Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll, for performing at least 50 hours of pro bono service in 2011. Twenty-four of these attorneys were also named to the court's High Honor Roll, for pro bono contributions in excess of 100 hours.
The Volunteer Legal Services Program of the Bar Association of San Francisco ("VLSP") awarded Morrison & Foerster its 2011 Outstanding Law Firm in Public Service Award. In presenting the award to Jim Brosnahan, Judge Katherine Feinstein, San Francisco Superior Court's Presiding Judge, noted that more than 70 Morrison & Foerster attorneys participated in VLSP pro bono matters in 2011, contributing over $1 million in pro bono legal services.
Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom honored Rita Lin with its 2012 Legal Service Award in recognition of her important and vital work to advance the rights of the LGBT community, including representation of Karen Golinski.
Susan Mac Cormac was one of the attorneys named as California Lawyer of the Year by California Lawyer magazine for co-chairing the working group that drafted SB 201 creating Flexible Purpose Corporations. The law now makes it possible for California businesses to fold goals of sustainability and social morality into their missions.
The National Law Journal named Morrison & Foerster a recipient of its annual Pro Bono Awards for its display of exemplary commitment to access to justice. San Diego attorney Drew Woodmansee was profiled for his advocacy and litigation work that led to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell on September 30, 2011. Beginning in 2009, a Morrison & Foerster pro bono team has represented four gay servicemembers who served their country with distinction but were dismissed, or were poised to be dismissed, under Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Casa Cornelia honored Morrison & Foerster with its La Mancha Law Firm of the Year Award for its extraordinary level of pro bono legal services to indigent immigrant victims of human and civil rights violations. Casa Cornelia stated that this "extraordinary level of commitment is only possible when a firm's leadership encourages and facilitates pro bono service among its partners and associates."
Disability Rights California (DRC) honored Morrison & Foerster for its considerable and critical contributions to the Darling v. Douglas lawsuit challenging cutbacks to Medi-Cal funded Adult Day Health Care (ADHC). DRC commended Palo Alto litigators Ken Kuwayti and Stefan Szpajda for their strategic and successful efforts to stop the elimination of ADHC as well as Los Angeles litigators Ben Fox and Shirley Hufstedler for their compelling appellate efforts in the Ninth Circuit.
The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) honored the firm with its 2011 Beacon of Justice Award for its significant contribution to pro bono appellate representation. NLADA was moved by Morrison & Foerster's true commitment to justice by stepping up to represent issues and people that would otherwise be forced to navigate the appeals process without any guidance.
The Financial Times highly commended the Los Angeles office of Morrison & Foerster in its 2011 U.S. Innovative Lawyers issue for winning a landmark education rights case by using the California constitution's guarantee of equal educational opportunity. The result prevents teacher layoffs at inner city public schools and has repercussions for schools across the U.S.
The Pro Bono Institute (PBI) selected Morrison & Foerster as the recipient for the John H. Pickering Award for its unwavering commitment to pro bono noting that the firm billed over 95,000 pro bono hours in 2010. PBI highlighted the firm's recent pro bono victories including a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court regarding protecting juveniles from life sentences without parole in non-homicide offenses as well as securing the release of a man wrongly imprisoned for 20 years.
Gordon Erspamer has been honored by American Lawyer with a Lifetime Achiever Award. Mr. Erspamer is one of only eight attorneys to receive the award this year, which honors outstanding private sector success and a devotion to public service. According to Am Law, the 2011 Lifetime Achiever recipients "are extraordinary lawyers, certainly, but for them, that's just the beginning of what makes them successful." Gordy's profile highlights his pro bono accomplishments on behalf of U.S. veterans that have spanned more than three decades, making him "a legend in military circles." The special section is published in the September 2011 issue of American Lawyer.
Tokyo attorney Jack Londen was named as one of the recipients of the Brinsley Award by the Western Center on Law & Poverty (WCLP). Named in honor of former WCLP Board Chair John Brinsley, the award celebrates the heart of Western Center which is passionate service, leadership and extraordinary commitment to pro bono services and the community.
Morrison & Foerster is named to the Law 360 Pro Bono Firms of 2011 list. The list recognizes the top ten pro bono firms in the country, based on a record of pro bono victories, a willingness to tackle tough pro bono cases, and an overall outstanding commitment to pro bono work. In particular, Law 360 recognizes the firm's impact in juvenile justice, education rights, and advocacy for people with disabilities.
The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California awarded its 2011 Social Justice Award to Sean Gates and his team for their extraordinary work in Reed v. State of California to protect the equal education rights of students affected by teacher layoffs in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The award was presented at the ACLU's 17th Annual Law Luncheon in Los Angeles.
Public Counsel gave its 2011 Pro Bono Award to Los Angeles attorneys Sean Gates, Hailly Korman, and Miriam Vogel, and Tokyo attorney Jack Londen for devoting eight months to negotiating and protecting a resolution in Reed v. State of California. The result is a landmark protection of students' fundamental right to equal educational opportunity that protects at least 75,000 students annually in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The American Bar Association Section of Litigation awarded its top pro bono honor, the 2011 John Minor Wisdom Public Interest and Professionalism Award to the firm on behalf of its work on educational reform for low-income children and children with disabilities.
The AIDS Legal Referral Panel recognized the firm with a certificate of appreciation for our generous participation in the Pro Bono Connections Initiative with ALRP.
Los Angeles attorney Sean Gates has been named the recipient of a 2011 California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year (CLAY) Award in the public interest law category for achieving an innovative class action settlement in Reed v. State of California, to protect the equal education rights of students who are affected by teacher layoffs. The settlement goes far beyond the three public schools attended by the initial plaintiffs, to protect up to 45 schools. As a result, the Los Angeles Unified School District must consider equal protection implications as well as teacher seniority in making layoff decisions.