10 pro bono organizations you should know about...

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Ten pro bono organizations you should know about...

Interested in pro bono? Every year associates at law firms across the country tell us about the pro bono work they get involved in. Several organizations crop up again and again. Here's a round-up of ten of them...


  • Her Justice (www.herjustice.org) – formerly called InMotion, Her Justice helps women in New York City who are experiencing poverty and, often, domestic abuse. Lawyers provide advice on immigration, orders of protection, and divorces, among many other things. Click here for a list of partner law firms: http://www.herjustice.org/content/view/40/48/

  • Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (www.vlany.org) – founded in 1969, New York-based VLA provides legal representation to low-income individual artists and non-profit arts organizations. Partner firms include Akin Gump, Fitzpatrick, Gibson Dunn, Axinn, Hangley, Davis Polk, and Cravath.

  • My Sister's Place (www.mysistersplacedc.org) – this non-profit provides residential shelters and a range of support services (including legal) to victims of domestic violence, and their children. 

  • Human Rights First (www.humanrightsfirst.org) – founded in 1978, Human Rights First works with people at home and abroad whose human rights are at risk: for example, refugees, victims of crimes against humanity, and people who have been discriminated against. Offices are in Washington, DC, New York and Houston. As well as pro bono opportunities for lawyers, the organization offers summer and semester internships to law students. Firms with members on the board include Eversheds Sutherland, Debevoise, and Schulte Roth & Zabel.

  • The Bronx Defenders (www.bronxdefenders.org) – provides criminal defense, family defense, civil legal services, advocacy and other support to indigent residents of the Bronx. See this article in the New York Times: www.nytimes.com/2013/02/28/nyregion/bronx-defenders-a-legal-group-open-reception-center-in-melrose.html?_r=0.


In terms of goodwill, branding, and the retention of attorneys, large firms have the ability to use pro bono as a rallying force and a source of cross-office collaboration.”

- Esther Lardent, president and CEO of the Pro Bono Institute


  • The Innocence Project (www.innocenceproject.org) – was founded in 1992 by Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld at Cardozo Law to exonerate prisoners who DNA testing could prove innocent. Offering litigation services and public policy recommendations, to date it has helped clear over 300 people, including 18 on death row. Lawyers offer their services pro bono from firms including Winston & Strawn, Paul, Weiss, WilmerHale, Schiff Hardin, Weil Gotshal, Skadden and Fried Frank. 

  • Ladder Up (www.goladderup.org) – helps low-income people in the Chicago area file tax returns and claim tax credits. Also offers financial assistance workshops and advice on financial aid for college. Partner firms include Baker & McKenzie, Kirkland & Ellis, Paul Hastings, and Reed Smith. 

  • Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) (https://supportkind.org) – co-founded by Angelina Jolie, DC-headquartered KIND provides legal representation to unaccompanied refugee and immigrant children in their deportation proceedings. In 2014, almost 68,000 children came to the US alone. Outside DC, KIND has offices in Baltimore, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, New York and Seattle. Click here for a full list of law firm partners: https://supportkind.org/about/partners/

  • Immigration Equality (www.immigrationequality.org) – provides free legal services to LGBT and HIV-positive immigrants. Has a network of lawyers who act pro bono, and also offers internship opportunities to law, grad and undergrad students. The firm's pro bono network includes a long list of firms that we cover (here's the full list)

  • Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) (http://tldef.org) – promotes transgender civil rights in areas including employment discrimination, equal access to health care, and helping with legal name changes. Supporters include Davis Polk, Cadwalader, Sullivan and Cromwell and Reed Smith.

A very big factor in a firm's decision to do pro bono is that it's a great training tool for younger associates, particularly for litigators."

- Gabriel Fuentes, partner and former pro bono chair, Jenner & Block