SAN FRANCISCO (August 20, 2013) – Morrison & Foerster today announced that New York pro bono counsel Jennifer K. Brown has been promoted to the position of senior pro bono counsel. She assumes the role following Kathi Pugh’s retirement on Aug. 1 after 23 years of service. In addition, former securities litigation partner Dorothy L. Fernandez has rejoined the firm as a pro bono counsel based in San Francisco. Ms. Brown will have oversight of the firm’s robust global pro bono program, which includes providing free legal services to low-income individuals, advising nonprofit organizations and assisting in other public interest matters. Ms. Fernandez, along with San Francisco-based pro bono counsel Rachel Williams, will manage the pro bono participation of the firm’s California lawyers.
“We are thrilled that Jennifer will be taking on the role of senior pro bono counsel,” said Sean Gates, chair of Morrison & Foerster’s pro bono program. “Her leadership and commitment to pro bono work has already proven invaluable. We’re equally excited that Dorothy has returned to the firm to take on a new challenge. Her passion, insight and experience will help us continue to support the pro bono work of our lawyers.”
Ms. Brown joined Morrison & Foerster in 2008, after serving as vice president and legal director of Legal Momentum, the nation’s first women’s rights legal organization, originally known as the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund. There she directed cutting-edge litigation and policy advocacy focused on employment discrimination, domestic violence victims’ rights, and sexuality and family rights. She previously served as a director with the Civil Rights Bureau of the Office of the New York Attorney General and as an assistant U.S. attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
“Morrison & Foerster has a long and proud tradition of pro bono service,” said Ms. Brown. “The dedication of the firm’s lawyers to those too often left behind by our legal system is inspiring, and I look forward to continuing to support their important work in my new role.”
Ms. Brown earned her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was essays editor of the Yale Law Journal and was awarded the Benjamin Scharps and Israel H. Peres prizes for outstanding writing. She earned her undergraduate degree from Antioch College.
Ms. Fernandez spent 13 years at Morrison & Foerster in the firm’s Securities Litigation, Enforcement and White-Collar Defense Group before leaving the firm in September 2012 to teach as an adjunct instructor at both Golden Gate University Law School and Santa Clara University Law School.
She maintained an active pro bono practice during her previous tenure with Morrison & Foerster. She worked with a multi-office team to create a handbook for victims of Hurricane Katrina, represented clients in individual matters and litigated class actions on behalf of children in foster care and LGBT individuals. A passionate advocate for LGBT equality, Ms. Fernandez has served as co-chair of the board of directors of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and on the board of the Pride Law Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships to law students advocating for equal rights of LGBT citizens and people living with HIV/AIDS.
“Training and mentoring lawyers, supporting their development and enriching their work experiences is very meaningful to me,” Ms. Fernandez said. “I’ve always been passionate about public service, and I’m excited to use the firm’s resources to further help our communities in ways that truly exemplify the MoFo spirit.”
Ms. Fernandez earned her J.D. from Harvard Law School, where she was a member of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review and co-chair of HLS Lambda. She earned her undergraduate degree from Stanford University.
Morrison & Foerster lawyers dedicated more than 75,000 hours to pro bono service in 2012. They have recently helped reform laws that criminalized homelessness, won the release of a wrongfully convicted man, beat back legal challenges attempting to restrict abortion access, restored equal education for disenfranchised public elementary school girls and secured asylum for people who faced persecution in their homelands, among many other projects and causes. In 2013, the New York State Bar Association honored Morrison & Foerster’s New York office with its President’s Pro Bono Service Award. Law360 has included the firm among its Pro Bono Firms of the Year every year since its inception in 2010 and The National Law Journal named the firm a recipient of one of its annual Pro Bono Awards in 2012.