“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, help veterans, participate in legal clinics, and represent the indigent in consumer, landlord-tenant, adoption, estate planning, 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. 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
Launched in June 2020, K&L Gates for Equal Justice is 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 has helped thousands of victims of nonconsensual distribution of intimate images. 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. In partnership with the FBI, we also 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.
Our lawyers in Singapore and Doha, in collaboration with others, assisted the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration & Employment of the Government of The Gambia in developing a next-generation investment treaty model called the Sustainable Investment Facilitation and Cooperation Agreement (SIFCA). For the first time in modern investment treaty practice, the development of the SIFCA brings together into one treaty instrument principles of investment protection and of investor obligations under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The SIFCA framework has been developed to be used by the Government of The Gambia as a model bilateral investment treaty in State-to-State and multilateral negotiations. Our firm has also provided customized training sessions addressing international investment law and arbitration for the Government of The Gambia, as part of the Investment Support Programme for Least Developed Countries implemented by the International Development Law Organization. We have been a participating firm in this program 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 following:
- We received the 2023 TrustLaw Impact Award for our work on a pre-trial detention project for the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. As part of this project, we collaborated with local counsel or conducted desk-based research addressing the legal policy framework of pre-trial detention in 46 of the then-54 Commonwealth countries.
- We received the Advancement in Animal Law Pro Bono Achievement Award from the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
- 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.
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 have served 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.