Dear Clients & Friends,
In 2017, there were a number of events around the country that served as an unfortunate reminder that there are still people who seek to denigrate and harm individuals or groups based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion, immigration status, or sexual orientation. This is simply counter to our values and what we stand for as a firm.
I am proud that we responded to these events through our commitment to pro bono service. Among our efforts, over 100 DWT lawyers mobilized to examine potential voter suppression in states across the country to determine whether those states’ activities complied with the National Voter Registration Act. We provided support to those affected by the travel ban, submitting amicus briefs, making Freedom of Information Act requests seeking records from U.S. Customs & Border Protection, and successfully representing the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project against a Department of Justice attempt to limit their services to immigrants. I was also pleased to have joined over 165 other law firm leaders in signing a letter to Congress supporting continued funding for Legal Services Corporation, the country’s largest underwriter of civil legal aid programs for low-income Americans.
DWT is made up of wonderful people who come from many different backgrounds, have different lifestyles, and bring unique perspectives. What makes it all work is our shared humanity. I feel proud of our work to help preserve the civil rights and dignity of those who come under attack, and I hope you will take inspiration from the descriptions of that work in this report.
Firmwide Managing Partner
As chair of the firm’s Pro Bono & Public Service Committee, it was my great pleasure to oversee the tremendous response by our lawyers and staff to the many challenges presented during the year. The many matters described in this report capture the stories of human struggles, the efforts of organizations to improve their communities in so many ways, including human rights, the environment, health and justice, veterans rights, and responses to systemic issues of national and global significance.
One of the most significant areas of attention was in immigrant rights, which faced greater challenges under the new administration than ever before. Large numbers of lawyers with no prior immigration background or experience volunteered in clinics to help lawful permanent immigrants apply for citizenship. We also sued on behalf of a local immigrant rights group as a government agency sought to limit its ability to serve the immigrant population. In another important effort, lawyers and staff, throughout our offices, volunteered their time to ensure that citizens can exercise their right to vote.
I have been heartened by the large number of our lawyers and staff who have taken on pro bono cases in the time I have chaired the committee. I’m confident that under the capable leadership of Tom Burke, a San Francisco-based media partner, who succeeded me as chair on January 1, our pro bono program will continue to flourish.
Partner, Chair, DWT Pro Bono and Public Service Committee
The past year has been extremely significant. It ended as it began, with a flood of activity - in January surrounding the legal status of foreign travelers and in December with a project for unaccompanied children from South America. Throughout the year, overseeing the firm’s pro bono program has given me an amazing vantage point from which to witness the passions, energy, and convictions of our lawyers and staff in response to assaults on the rights and dignity of many people. While many of our societal norms have been eroded, one norm—that of lawyers’ duty to uphold the rule of law and provide legal service to those who can’t afford it—has rarely been so powerfully displayed. The support provided by firm leadership has been exemplary, and the imagination, creativity, and dedication of our people has been renewing.
Pro Bono Manager
2018 Pro Bono Report Stories
Nationwide Injunction Halts Justice Department Effort to Constrain Immigrant Legal Aid
After receiving a cease-and-desist letter from the Department of Justice (DOJ) that barred it from providing limited legal assistance to people in immigration court, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) turned to its longtime law firm partner, DWT, for help.
Firmwide Response to Trump Administration Executive Order
More than 40 DWT lawyers and staff, at all levels of seniority, volunteered to work on-site at local airports to assist travelers affected by the ban.
DWT Pursuing Information on How the 'Travel Ban' Was Enforced
The firm has been litigating on behalf of various American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) chapters, seeking detailed information from the federal government about how the executive order mentioned above was implemented at the local level.
Public Records Litigation Uncovers Questionable Procedures in Immigration Courts
Thanks to a successful Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) action led by several organizations that regularly assist immigrant communities, new light has been shed on the federal government’s fast-track deportation of unaccompanied minors and refugee families from Central America.
Defending DACA Alongside the Country's Largest Immigrant Youth-Led Organization
On behalf of United We Dream, which organizes and advocates nationally for the dignity and fair treatment of immigrant youth and families, regardless of immigration status, DWT filed amicus briefs in several high-profile cases.
Portland Associate Develops and Delivers 'Know Your Rights' Presentation
In March 2017, Erica Rosales, with the support of the DWT Portland office, held a Spanish-language presentation aimed at informing members of the immigrant community about their basic rights when confronted by law enforcement.
Targeted by ICE, New York Parks Department Worker Gets Relief
A large team of advocates included the Immigrant Defense Project; Mr. Molina’s public employees union; his co-workers and supervisors at the Parks Department; many elected officials; and DWT came to the aid of Mr. Molina in order to help him stay in this country with his wife and two teenaged children.
Other Pro Bono Immigration Work
In addition to the stories above, DWT took a stand on many other immigration challenges in 2017.
DWT Notches More Wins for the First Amendment and the Public's Right to Monitor Police Activity
In high-profile pro bono cases around the country, lawyers from multiple DWT offices have successfully upheld the right of citizens and the media to record law enforcement activity in public places.
Across the Firm
In 2017, employees throughout the firm provided support to their communities on issues ranging from racial bias within juries to children struggling with the foster care and adoption process.
First Quarter 2009