“Yes, we do well for our clients. But there is an additional obligation: to serve justice. That is the North Star of our profession.”
- William H. Gates, Sr.
This commitment to pro bono work has been ingrained in K&L Gates culture since our early years, dating back to the legacy firms that gave root to what we are today.
Our lawyers actively engage in a variety of pro bono efforts and work on hundreds of pro bono matters each year. We litigate civil rights cases, establish and advise nonprofit organizations, participate in legal clinics, and represent the indigent in consumer, landlord-tenant, domestic violence, and immigration matters. In addition to providing legal assistance directly to individuals who have limited means but substantial legal needs, we provide legal counsel and public policy advocacy to help organizations advance their public service programs, work to advance the rule of law around the world, and accept court appointments to provide pro bono counsel, among other things. Each year, the firm highlights a selection of recent pro bono work and awards in For the Good of All.
Our firmwide pro bono initiatives allow lawyers across our global platform to work together to address common legal problems.
K&L Gates for Equal Justice
In June 2020, we launched K&L Gates for Equal Justice, a joint initiative of our Diversity and Pro Bono Committees, to harness our firm’s legal skills to promote unity and equal justice. Our efforts focus on voting rights, criminal justice reform, and equal justice for indigenous people.
Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project
Our acclaimed Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project helps approximately 1,000 victims of nonconsensual pornography each year. The project taps lawyers across disciplines and across the United States, Asia, Australia, and Europe, while highlighting our experience with technology-facilitated harassment and cyber forensics.
Anti-Human Trafficking Initiative
Our global Anti-Human Trafficking Initiative works with individuals and non-governmental organizations around the world to help survivors and address the scourge of human trafficking. Recently, in partnership with the FBI, we founded an initiative in Western Pennsylvania focused on helping members of the LGBTQ community who are victims of human trafficking.
PROJECTS AND PARTNERS
Working with Global Water 2020, we secured a US$35 million increase in U.S. foreign assistance funding to increase access to clean drinking water for some of the world’s poorest people.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, our lawyers have stepped up to help individuals and non-profit organizations work through a variety of new issues and challenges they have faced. For example, we represented civil immigration detainees in a class action involving inadequate protections against COVID-19 at the correctional facility where they were housed. We have helped organizations with review of contracts, trip cancellations and refunds, the SBA’s paycheck protection program, employment issues, and insurance coverage advice related to COVID-19. We also worked with legal clinics transitioning to a remote model. We prepared state-based resource guides to assist legal aid providers and clinics, identifying resources related to housing, utilities, financial assistance, protection from abuse orders, voting, unemployment compensation benefits, food, and other basic needs for low-income individuals impacted by the pandemic.
Our lawyers in Singapore assisted the government of The Gambia in building capacity in international investment law and arbitration. This work involved preparing and presenting a series of customized training sessions to participants in government service, in collaboration with the Investment Support Programme for Least Developed Countries (ISP/LDCs) implemented by the International Development Law Organization. K&L Gates has been a participating firm in the ISP/LDCs since its official launch in 2017.
We have undertaken pro bono impact litigation. As an example, lawyers in our San Francisco and Palo Alto offices won an important victory on behalf of inmates in the California prison system, helping to convince the court that federal oversight of the state system is still necessary. Our lawyers then served as lead counsel in a trial addressing the state’s unconstitutional use of force against mentally ill inmates, secured an order halting that practice, and worked with the state to establish new protocols for the use of force.
We are also a signatory to the Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge, a member of the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance, and a member of The Alliance for Asian American Justice.
Although the goal of our pro bono efforts is to help those in need, we are proud when our lawyers and our initiatives are recognized. Some select awards include:
- The Pro Bono Institute awarded its 2020 Corporate Pro Bono Partner Award to our firm and Amazon for joint contributions in support of Mary’s Place, an organization providing shelter and services to women, children, and families in their journey out of homelessness.
- The New Jersey State Bar Association recognized partner Charles Rysavy as the Pro Bono Attorney of the Year (Individual) for his pro bono service to refugee children. Described as “the quintessential attorney-servant, motivated by the determination to pursue justice for the voiceless,” Rysavy has performed more than 2,100 hours of pro bono work during his career.
- We collaborated with eight other organizations as part of the Charlotte Triage Project, facilitating the private bar’s pro bono service of low-income clients in matters such as eviction prevention, housing, expunction of criminal records, and access to health care. Among other recognition, the Charlotte Triage Project received the Outstanding Collaborative Pro Bono Service Award from the North Carolina Bar Association in June 2020.
- Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), a global leader in the protection of unaccompanied refugee and migrant children, recognized associates Hannah Warren and Andrew Knop with the KINDest Pro Bono Advocates Award and paralegal Mai Truong with the One of a KIND award for their exceptional pro bono contributions.
- Our lawyers in Australia received an award from Arts Law for their valued pro bono contributions to the organization and its clients during 2020.
OTHER COMMUNITY SERVICE
Beyond pro bono legal representation, our lawyers and allied professionals perform public service work in the communities where they live and work. For example, they serve as members of governing bodies of educational institutions, youth sports and arts organizations, environmental groups, civic and cultural organizations, health care and research institutions, and social service and community organizations. Additionally, many of our lawyers and allied professionals provide community service through an array of teaching, mentoring, and other non-legal programs.