June 30, 2009

For the second year in a row, Jenner & Block was recognized as the number one law firm in the country for pro bono service by The American Lawyer magazine in its annual “Pro Bono Honor Roll.”  The magazine’s rankings were published in its July 2009 issue.

The Firm obtained a number one ranking through a combination of having 169.5 average pro bono hours per attorney, the highest of any law firm, as well as having 90.9% of its attorneys contribute at least 20 hours to pro bono matters. 

“One of the hallmark values of Jenner & Block is our unwavering dedication to helping those in need through pro bono representation and service to the community,” said Susan C. Levy, Jenner & Block’s Managing Partner.  “We’re very honored to have been recognized once again this year for our efforts.”

Jenner & Block’s long-standing tradition of providing legal services to the needy has been recognized by The American Lawyer as one of the top ten programs in the country every year since 1990, and the Firm has been ranked number one in the country three times – in 2009, 2008 and 1999.

In 2008, Jenner & Block attorneys devoted over 74,000 hours to pro bono service on hundreds of matters.  100% of Jenner & Block associates and approximately two-thirds of partners devoted at least 20 hours to pro bono work in 2008 and in 2007.

Among the wide variety of pro bono matters at the Firm over the last 12 months, Jenner & Block attorneys helped numerous individuals secure asylum in the U.S., permitting the refugees — who had been persecuted in their native lands on ethnic and political grounds — to remain in the U.S. and seek citizenship. The Firm has helped approximately 20 individuals obtain asylum in the United States over the last two years, devoting more than 4,000 pro bono hours to asylum matters in 2008.

In one notable asylum matter, Jenner & Block Associate Lindsay Harrison secured a victory before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Jean Marc Nken, an asylum applicant who faces deportation to Cameroon.  On April 22, the Court ruled 7-2 to allow Nken to continue the appeal of his deportation to Cameroon, where Mr. Nken fled after being detained, interrogated, and beaten for his advocacy for free elections.  The case was the first argument for Ms. Harrison in the U.S. Supreme Court or in any court.  The Firm's team also included Partner Jared O. Freedman, and Associates Sharmila Sohoni, Joshua L. Kaul, Julia K. Martinez, and Adam G. Unikowski.

Also of note in 2008 was Jenner & Block’s representation of the Chicago Urban League in its lawsuit that challenges Illinois’ method for raising and distributing education funds to local school districts and the Illinois State Board of Education’s implementation of the system. The Urban League asserts that the State’s public school funding scheme disparately impacts racial and ethnic minority students who attend Majority-Minority Districts. Partner Lisa T. Scruggs leads the Firm’s team on this matter, which includes Partners David J. Bradford, Robert L. Graham, Gail H. Morse, Associates Herbert C. Brown, Brian L. Dougherty, Grace S. Ho, Stephanie Jean-Jacques, Shannon J. Jones, Kyle A. Palazzolo, Sandi J. Toll, and Shyni R. Varghese and paralegal Jessica Merkouris. Of Counsel Benjamin K. Miller has also made valuable contributions to the case.  More than 1,000 pro bono hours were devoted to this matter in 2008.

In addition, more than 200 attorneys devoted over 22,000 pro bono hours representing  indigent individuals accused of felony crimes and those on death row. The Firm regularly defends the constitutional rights of its pro bono clients in trial and post conviction appellate proceedings, and also frequently handles prisoners’ rights cases.  For decades, Jenner & Block has also represented death row inmates in appeals and constitutional challenges to capital punishment in the United States.