Our Pro Bono Commitment
Faith in Place honored a multi-disciplinary, cross-office team with its 2022 “Volunteer of the Year” award. Faith in Place empowers people of diverse faiths and spiritualities to advance environmental and racial justice. Jenner & Block has supported this client, pro bono, on solar Initiatives, human resource issues, copyright issues, government procurement issues, tax issues, and corporate transactions. The team includes Partners Michelle McAtee, Gail Morse, Julie Shepard, Steve Siros, and Emma Sullivan, Special Counsel Nathan Castellano, and Associates Bill Erlain, Katherine Funderburg, and Aime Joo.
Jenner & Block client Rodney Lambirth, a federal prisoner suffering from Stage IV prostate cancer with a prognosis of less than a year to live, recently won compassionate release on thanks to pro bono representation by Jenner & Block lawyers.
Mr. Lambirth previously filed two compassionate release motions, which were denied because the court found that he failed to state an extraordinary and compelling circumstance for release and that he posed a public safety risk. The Jenner & Block team argued that the metastasis of his cancer and terminal diagnosis fit squarely within the Sentencing Commission’s guidelines on what constitutes an extraordinary and compelling reason for release. Judge David Counts in the Western District of Texas agreed with the team’s position and ordered Mr. Lambirth’s sentence reduced to time served.
Pro Bono Counsel Nura Maznavi and Pro Bono & Work Equity Lawyer Angelina Smith led the team with supervision from Partner Andrew W. Vail and assistance from Associates Timothy W. Yuhasz, and Deanna E. Krokos.
Jenner & Block won asylum in the United States for a client who was arrested, detained, and tortured in Cameroon.
The client sought our help after being detained by immigration authorities. Working pro bono, a Jenner & Block team in Los Angeles secured his release on bond. Another team took over the case after the client moved to the Washington, DC, area and won his asylum on July 20, 2022.
July 18, 2022 - The American Lawyer ranked Jenner & Block number one for international pro bono work on its 2022 Pro Bono Scorecard. The firm ranked third for pro bono work performed by US-based lawyers. Jenner & Block has placed among the leading 10 pro bono programs nationwide every year since the ranking’s inception in 1990, a testament to the firm’s longstanding and deep commitment to pro bono work.
The annual scorecard ranks the AmLaw 200 law firms by the average number of pro bono hours and the percentage of lawyers who performed more than 20 hours of pro bono work. Lawyers in Jenner & Block’s London office averaged 132.3 pro bono hours in 2021 and 109.5% of the office worked 20 hours or more on pro bono matters.
US-based lawyers completed 152.4 pro bono hours on average in 2021, with 107.5% of lawyers completing more than 20 pro bono hours. Jenner & Block’s commitment to exceeding the 20-hours per-lawyer market standard earned it the number-two spot on the publication’s Breadth of Pro Bono Commitment list.
“Even if we were busy, the suffering doesn’t go away. The needs don’t go away,” said Partner Debbie L. Berman, a co-chair of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee, when discussing the firm’s pro bono commitment with The American Lawyer. “Between COVID and racial injustice and what’s going on in Afghanistan and other places, people just don’t think it’s the right thing to do to cut back on pro bono.”
In January 2021, Jenner & Block launched its five-year pro bono commitment (2021-2025) to provide $250 million in free legal services to those in need of access to justice.
A Jenner & Block team recently won a grant of asylum for pro bono client, Amasias Paau Choc, and his son, Pablo. Mr. Choc faced death threats in Guatemala because of his role in his village’s autonomous governing body.
The team was before Judge Everett in Los Angeles Immigration Court, and the case was heard over the course of several hearings, spanning more than two years. On June 10, the team went back to court to present the testimony of a country conditions expert, when opposing counsel announced that he would not oppose a grant of asylum and Judge Everett entered the order, granting asylum on the spot.
The team began working on the case in late 2019 with their first merits hearing on March 12, 2020—just before stay-at-home orders as a result of the pandemic. The team then had several virtual continued merit hearings before the court in late 2020 and in 2021, and two in-person hearings in 2022.
Jenner & Block awarded its annual Albert E. Jenner Pro Bono Award to Partners David Jimenez -Ekman and Zachary C. Schauf and Associate Illyana Green for their tireless work on behalf of clients in need of access to justice. The firm gave the annual Jenner & Block Award for Excellence in Pro Bono or Public Service to Operations Administrator Marc Patterson.
Mr. Jimenez -Ekman was honored for representing Ken Smith, who was wrongfully imprisoned for a murder and robbery he did not commit. Thanks to Mr. Jimenez-Ekman’s relentless advocacy over many years, Mr. Smith was released from prison last May.
Mr. Schauf was honored for his success in defeating Oklahoma’s efforts to overturn the US Supreme Court’s landmark decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma, which found that much of Oklahoma remains Native American lands.
Ms. Green was honored for securing asylum for a Kosovan man after arguing his case at the Seventh Circuit; she was also honored for representing the American Medical Association and other medical associations as amici in transgender rights cases across the US.
Mr. Patterson was honored for his vigorous support of the firm’s award-winning pro bono program including screening incoming requests for pro bono legal support and for helping to set up a series of DACA renewal clinics that took place in partnership with the firm’s billable clients.
Jenner & Block has been recognized by The American Lawyer as the top pro bono firm in the United States 10 of the past 14 years. We partner with dedicated legal aid organizations, law school clinics, in-house legal departments, and others committed to providing access to justice and serving the public good. As advocates for equity, we embrace our responsibility to serve those in need, better our communities, and protect our future.