Dear Clients & Friends
Pro bono was recently described to me as hard work and “heart work.” When I think of the time and commitment our lawyers and staff put into pro bono representation, and the way we are able to positively impact the lives of so many vulnerable members of our society, I could not agree more with that statement.
Pro bono and social impact work have always been an important part of our culture and identity as a firm. And it is incredibly motivating to see our lawyers and staff demand that we continue this legacy. Over the past year, this commitment helped ensure that dozens of children had champions at the U.S.-Mexico border, that countless vulnerable clients felt like they had a voice in court for the first time ever, and that First Amendment and other freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution were protected.
So when I read this report, I am incredibly proud that we are doing the hard work and the heart work. I hope these stories inspire you the way they have me.
- Jeffrey P. Gray
Firmwide Managing Partner
Committee Chair Letter
Serving as Davis Wright Tremaine’s Pro Bono Committee Chair for the past year has been inspiring. Throughout the firm, there is unanimous support for even greater pro bono efforts, and we are being entrepreneurial and intentional about how we increase both the volume and the scope of our nationwide impact. In 2018, DWT attorneys and staff worked with at least 452 different pro bono clients representing more than $11 million worth of time.
Not only did we meet our Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge commitment to provide 3 percent of all billable hours to pro bono service, but we also created avenues that made it easier for attorneys to achieve this goal. Partners and associates designated as pro bono leaders in each office were key to this success, as was making pro bono accessible and valuable for our busy lawyers. In my media and First Amendment practice, for example, pro bono work was an excellent way for associates to gain valuable experience managing cases, taking depositions, and arguing substantive motions or appeals. There is no better training vehicle than this kind of meaningful, hands-on work.
Being innovative in our pro bono programming was also a priority. Last year we entered into an exciting pro bono collaboration with Amazon lawyers to represent unaccompanied immigrant minors seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status or, in some cases, asylum. These partnerships have a very positive impact on the communities and individuals they serve, and I invite interested clients to reach out to me to learn about collaboration opportunities.
This report highlights only some of the inspiring pro bono matters our attorneys worked on in the past year, such as our partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union, where teams across the firm ensured voters' rights protections on an unprecedented scale.
We are proud of the reach and diversity of the matters we worked on this past year, and we are looking forward to another year of innovative, entrepreneurial, and impactful work.
- Thomas R. Burke
Chair, DWT Pro Bono Committee
A Tribute to Julie Orr
This edition of the Pro Bono Report is dedicated, with admiration and gratitude, to Julie Orr, who recently retired after more than two decades as Davis Wright Tremaine’s Pro Bono Manager. Julie’s passion for providing access to civil legal aid has touched countless lives, and her dedication to pro bono work was an inspiration to everyone at DWT.
Julie started her career at the firm in 1989 as a paralegal, but her true calling came in 1999, when she was selected to run the firm’s pro bono program fulltime. In this role, she worked across attorneys and staff to pursue high-impact litigation on behalf of refugees, the developmentally disabled, and other vulnerable populations, and to establish numerous ongoing partnerships with legal services organizations and clients.
Among the many valuable projects Julie helped launch, it is her involvement in the Washington Medical-Legal Partnership that stands out because of its reach and impact, promoting better health outcomes for patients by addressing legal and social needs in underserved communities. She was also at the forefront of bringing the Holocaust Survivor Ghetto Work Payment Project to the Pacific Northwest, instigating DWT’s participation in Washington Legal Clinics for the Homeless in Washington, D.C., and helping create the Domestic Violence Impact Project, which is instrumental in helping survivors secure protection orders in the state of Washington.
For many years, Julie also published a regular firm email, the "Pro Bono High Five,” for many years to honor and bring attention to exciting pro bono successes, and to underscore the importance of pro bono service.
To Julie, working on the pro bono matters was only half of why she stayed in the field for more than 20 years — the other big part was working with volunteers. “Pro bono attorneys are generous, kind, thoughtful people,” Julie said. “I have always found it a privilege to help them help their clients.”
Julie, thank you for your service. Your legacy will always be a tremendous part of the firm’s pro bono program.
Defamation Defense for Women Standing Up in the #MeToo Movement
The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund was created by a group of nationally recognized lawyers and advocates to provide pro bono defense to women facing the risk of legal retaliation for telling their stories in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
Speech Rights Defended in a Detention Facility
Thomas R. Burke successfully defended a detainee from Guatemala at a detention facility, who was sued by an immigration lawyer for slander and defamation.
Mentoring Professional Women in Afghanistan
Through the U.S.-based Alliance for International Women’s Rights, three DWT lawyers are participating in an innovative project to mentor professional women in Afghanistan.
Hard-Fought Win for Client Who Chose to Withdraw Medical Care from Spouse
In a heartbreaking case to which DWT lawyers and staff devoted well over 1,000 pro bono hours, a client who chose to withdraw all but comfort care from her 37-year-old husband - after he had been in a persistent vegetative state for more than a year - prevailed in L.A. Superior Court.
Using Technology to Combat Human Trafficking
Seattle partner Louisa Barash, who focuses her practice on technology licensing and distribution, has been assisting Seattle Against Slavery with service and licensing agreements for a proprietary technology utilizing social media, chatbots, and automated outreach texting to reduce sex trafficking called Freedom Signal.
Searching for Answers on ICE Courthouse Monitoring
DWT's Portland lawyers have been working on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oregon to expose the practices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of targeting sensitive public locations, including state courthouses, for immigration enforcement actions.
Dave Baca Honored for Service to Music Nonprofit
Founded in 1998 in Portland, Ore., Ethos Music Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a mission to provide the life-changing power of music education to underserved youth.
Public Records Litigation Reveals The Truth About L.A. Muslim Mapping Program
Since 9/11, law-enforcement initiatives targeting so-called “violent extremism” in the United States have repeatedly risked trampling on the country’s fundamental religious, speech, and peaceful assembly rights.
Addressing Homelessness Block by Block
DWT represented Facing Homelessness, a nonprofit organization working to install panelized, sustainable, compact homes in the backyards of volunteering Seattle homeowners, and then rent those houses to homeless persons.
Persevering Grandparents Achieve Adoption of Second Grandchild
In May, employment litigator Joseph Hoag finalized a very happy adoption of a 13-year-old boy by his grandparents.
DWT Partners with Amazon for a Large-Scale Project to Aid Immigrant Kids
In July 2017, Ajay Patel, associate general counsel at Amazon Studios in Los Angeles, contacted Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and Bet Tzedek about providing legal services to unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children on a large scale in partnership with DWT.
Former Paratrooper Gets Another Chance at Receiving Veteran’s Benefits
As a paratrooper in the U.S. Army during the period following the Korean War, DWT's client was involved in multiple parachute jumps, often with heavy packs on his back.
Media and Public Allowed Window into Anticorruption Compliance
After four years of litigation, DWT prevailed in an important case on behalf of the investigative journalism nonprofit, 100Reporters.
Helping Low-Income Tax Filers in Virginia
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is a national program sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Longstanding Immigration Client Wins Complicated Adjustment of Status
San Francisco associate Nicole Giuntoli successfully navigated the current immigration landscape to assist a longtime DWT client with a particularly complicated status adjustment.
Assisting the Legal Clinic for the Homeless
DWT's Washington, D.C., office has a longstanding relationship with Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless (WLCH), which provides legal services to individuals experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, and advocates for policy reform to strengthen the social safety net and increase the availability of affordable housing.
DWT Commitment to Portland Homeless Youth Center Recognized
The May 2018 issue of Multnomah Lawyer, the magazine of the Multnomah Bar Association, highlighted DWT and its work with Outside In, a Portland nonprofit. DWT has staffed a legal clinic at the facility for more than a decade.
Voting Rights Protected
More than 150 DWT lawyers and paralegals raised their hands in the spring of 2017 to participate in a nationwide investigation of state and county compliance with the National Voter Registration Act.
Court Awards Six-Figure Fees to Photojournalist Plaintiff
In early 2017, a DWT team led by Bob Corn-Revere and Ronnie London helped freelance photojournalist Mannie Garcia win a settlement for $45,000 as well as changes in the Montgomery County (Maryland) Police Department policy, in a civil rights lawsuit resulting from the client’s unlawful arrest while photographing police action on a public street.
“Dreamers” Organization Helps Resist Moves to End DACA
United We Dream (UWD) is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership-based organization, and the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation, comprising more than 500,000 members and consisting of five branches with more than 100 affiliate organizations across 28 states.
Young Man Gets Reduced Sentence and Chance at Productive Life
In 2000, Eduardo Sandoval was sentenced to 75 years in prison for a crime that occurred when he was 18 years old.
Governor’s Suppression of Critics on Social Media Stopped
In partnership with the ACLU of Maryland, Lisa Zycherman and Christopher Savage filed a lawsuit against Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, challenging his policy of censoring constituents’ speech on his official Facebook page by blocking those who disagree with him and deleting their comments.
Jury Awards Nonprofit Dance Group and School for Loss of Its Home
Represented by a team of DWT lawyers, our client, Presidio Performing Arts Foundation, won a jury verdict of $325,000.
Governor Inslee Commutes Sentence of Rehabilitated Individual Sentenced Under Washington’s Three-Strikes Law
Mark Bartlett and Rachel Herd appeared before the Washington State Clemency and Pardon Board in September 2017 on behalf of their client, Robbie Burton.