In its annual survey of pro bono programs among Am Law 200 firms, The American Lawyer ranked Morrison & Foerster in the top 10 for both U.S. and international pro bono work for 2015.
According to the survey, MoFo’s U.S. lawyers averaged more than 113 pro bono hours in 2014, with 71 percent devoting more than 20 hours to different pro bono projects. Much of the work was on California criminal justice matters, including representing victims of alleged civil rights abuses.
The top project by number of hours was a federal civil rights suit against the foster care system in Clark County, Nevada. Working in tandem with the National Center for Youth Law, we secured a $2.075 million settlement for seven former foster youth who were injured while in Clark County (Las Vegas) custody. MoFo lawyers spent nearly 3,000 hours on the case in 2014.
“We are hopeful that [this victory] is going to spark deep-seated reform in the foster care system in Las Vegas,” San Francisco partner Mark Danis told The American Lawyer.
In 2014, MoFo had 16 large pro bono matters with more than 1,000 hours (up from seven in 2013). Lawyers took on pro bono projects in areas about which they are passionate, such as marriage equality and reproductive rights.
Corporate and finance matters accounted for nearly half of the firm’s increased pro bono hours in 2014. Our patent lawyers represented inventors referred by the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s pro bono program; bankruptcy lawyers assisted individual debtors with their filings; and lawyers across practice groups handled wills for the elderly and U visas for immigrants, as well as a range of work for nonprofit organizations in and outside the United States.
MoFo also strengthened its international pro bono infrastructure in 2014. The firm’s Pro Bono Committee now includes members from our Berlin, Hong Kong, London, and Tokyo offices. By focusing more attention on engaging lawyers outside the United States, the firm increased its international pro bono hours by approximately 15 percent over 2013.