We actively encourage our lawyers to provide pro bono legal representation and to participate in other charitable, community, educational and professional activities. They work on hundreds of pro bono matters each year.
Among other things, they litigate civil rights cases, establish and advise nonprofit organizations, assist those organizations in transactions, and represent the indigent in consumer, landlord-tenant, and immigration matters. In addition to providing legal assistance directly to individuals who have limited means but substantial civil 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. Each year, the firm highlights a selection of recent pro bono work and awards in For the Good of All.
In 2020, the firm 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.
The firm delivers pro bono services in cooperation with dozens of organizations and legal services programs, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Cancer Council of Australia, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, Children’s Law Center, Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, Consumer Action Law Centre, Habitat for Humanity, Her Justice, International Senior Lawyers Project, Kaleidoscope Human Rights Foundation, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Justice Connect, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, Lawyers for the Creative Arts, National Immigrant Justice Center, Neighborhood Legal Services Association, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Northwest Justice Project, Public Counsel, Refugee Legal, St. John’s Legal Centre, and Tahirih Justice Center.
Lawyers from across the firm work together to address common problems. One example is our acclaimed Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project, which helps approximately 1,000 victims of nonconsensual pornography each year. The project taps lawyers in our cybersecurity and cyber forensics practices across the U.S., Asia, and Europe. Working with Global Water 2020, we secured a $35 million increase in U.S. foreign assistance funding to increase access to clean drinking water for some of the world’s poorest people.
The firm also undertakes 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.
K&L Gates has underscored its institutional support of pro bono activities in several ways. The firm is a signatory to the Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge. K&L Gates treats all hours reasonably recorded on approved pro bono matters as the equivalent of billable hours in determining associate bonus eligibility. A firmwide Pro Bono Committee oversees the firm’s pro bono programs in collaboration with Pro Bono Coordinators in each K&L Gates office. The Pro Bono Committee assesses the effectiveness of the firm’s pro bono efforts and provides leadership to ensure fulfillment of our professional obligations as lawyers.
Beyond pro bono legal representation, our lawyers and staff perform public service work in the communities where they live and work. This includes serving as members of governing bodies of educational institutions, youth sports and arts organizations, environmental groups, civic and cultural organizations, and health care and research institutions, as well as social service and community organizations. Additionally, many of our lawyers and staff provide community service through an array of teaching, mentoring and other non-legal programs.