MoFo News Item

Morrison & Foerster honored by the National Law Journal in its 2021 Pro Bono Hot List

08 Dec 2021

The National Law Journal (NLJ) named Morrison & Foerster to its 2021 Pro Bono Hot List. The publication recognized the firm for its unwavering commitment to pro bono efforts worldwide. This includes winning a ground‑breaking decision that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) was violating the Constitution when detaining migrants and securing the reinstatement of executives at the U.S. Agency for Global Media who were retaliated against because of complaints about the politicization of a previously non-political agency.

In the Customs and Border Protection case, a pro bono team led by litigation partner Jack Londen secured a major victory when a federal court ordered the CBP to overhaul the way the agency detains people in its custody in the Tucson Sector in Arizona. The court held that conditions in the holding cells, which preclude sleep over several days, were presumptively punitive and violated the U.S. Constitution. The court enjoined CBP from holding detainees longer than 48 hours “unless and until CBP can provide conditions of confinement that meet detainees’ basic human needs.” The government dropped its appeal in November 2020, and the decision became final in January 2021.

MoFo lawyers devoted more than 27,000 hours over the course of five years to secure the outcome, working with co-counsel from several public interest organizations.

In the other case cited by the Hot List, Washington, D.C. of counsel Bob Litt and San Francisco partner Alex Iftimie represented six senior executives at the U.S. Agency for Global Media who were retaliated against for protesting actions of the agency head that they believed politicized the agency and eroded a journalistic firewall that protected the broadcasters from political interference. MoFo worked with Washington, D.C. attorney Mark Zaid in connection with employment, security clearance, and whistleblower claims and filed complaints with the Office of Special Counsel and the State Department Office of the Inspector General. Soon after President Biden took office, he dismissed the agency head. Our clients were swiftly restored to their positions and have been completely exonerated of any wrongdoing.

In 2020, MoFo lawyers dedicated a collective 95,000 hours of their time to pro bono matters, including challenging laws in Texas and Louisiana that trample on reproductive rights, working to prevent the mistreatment of people with mental illness in Connecticut prisons and fighting race discrimination against middle-school girls in New York.

“We are extremely proud to be named to this year’s Pro Bono Hot List,” said Jennifer K. Brown, MoFo senior pro bono counsel, telling the NLJ, “pro bono service should be integral to the practice of every lawyer at MoFo, from summer associates to partners near retirement, and should serve every kind of client.”

The NLJ’s Pro Bono Hot List recognizes law firms that have led the charge on pro bono work with broad policy, social, or financial impact; or work that has required great time and sacrifice from lawyers because of their clients’ unpopularity, exposing lawyers to criticism.

View the full list and learn more about MoFo’s pro bono commitments.



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