Throughout Brown Rudnick's history, the Firm has actively encouraged all of its professionals to provide legal services pro bono publico to persons or causes in need of quality legal representation. The resolution of the American Bar Association House of Delegates expresses our point of view succinctly:
"It is the basic responsibility of each lawyer engaged in the practice of law to provide public interest legal services without fee or at a substantially reduced fee."
Brown Rudnick's encouragement of pro bono legal services is grounded not only on the societal purpose of achieving equal access to justice for all, but also – quite frankly – on the more self-interested purpose of providing an additional avenue for individual professional growth and self-fulfillment. Our hope is that a vital pro bono program will aid significantly in making lawyering a fulfilling, meaningful and long-term career for all of our professionals.
Brown Rudnick's current pro bono matters include representation of non-profit organizations and individuals involved with education in underserved communities, homeless shelters, artistic and theatrical groups, economic development for low to moderate income organizations, and indigent individuals and families.
Brown Rudnick subscribes to the Resolution on Public Interest Legal Service adopted by the Boston Bar Association in 1987. This Resolution establishes a program to encourage lawyers to commit a minimum level of time per year to a broad category of public interest activities. The Firm also subscribes to the Pro Bono Institute Law Firm Challenge™ ("Challenge").
As a signatory to the Challenge, we have committed to using our best efforts to ensure that during each fiscal year, we contribute, at a minimum, an amount of time equal to 3% of the Firm’s total billable hours to pro bono work. Internal policies support our professionals in rendering legal services to our pro bono clients; thus, for evaluation and associate bonus purposes, appropriate recognition is given to time devoted to pro bono matters.
Since 2001, the year the Brown Rudnick Center for the Public Interest was created, through August 31, 2014, Brown Rudnick has provided 105,256.4 hours of pro bono legal representation, the value of which would have been $44,053,351 if the professionals had billed for the representation at their standard hourly rates.
Brown Rudnick's pro bono representation encompasses a broad array of legal work. Substantively, our attorneys have worked on everything from litigating major public policy matters in state and federal courts, to representing individual homeless clients with social security disability claims, to providing “general counsel” representation to non-profit organizations.
To a large extent, pro bono undertakings are responsive to the particular interest or professional development needs of individual attorneys or paralegals. There are some areas of particular Firm focus, however, which include:
Education. Working in conjunction with the Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation Corp., which makes grants to non-profit organizations working to improve education in underserved communities, the Center coordinates the provision of pro bono legal representation in support of the grantees and their purposes. We serve as general counsel to the non-profit Reach Out and Read.
Fighting intolerance. The Firm has long provided extensive legal representation to organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League and serves as general counsel to Facing History and Ourselves.
Indigent Artists. We have created the Brown Rudnick Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts Fee Collection Initiative to assist struggling artists when they are having trouble getting paid for their artwork.
Homelessness. The Firm participates in legal clinics at homeless shelters in Boston coordinated by the Boston Bar Association’s Clearinghouse on Affordable Housing and Homelessness. We also have provided substantial assistance for decades to Rosie’s Place, a homeless shelter for women in Boston, and to other non-profit organizations serving the homeless.
Unemployment Benefit Appeals. We represent those who have lost employment and who are challenging denial of unemployment benefits.
Lawyer of the Day. The Firm participates in supporting the Boston Housing Court through the Lawyer of the Day program which provides legal guidance to unrepresented litigants.
Individual Bankruptcy. We provide assistance to individuals, especially in Boston, who are seeking help filing for individual bankruptcy.
Veterans. Our attorneys provide representation to veterans and their families in obtaining benefits they are entitled to.
The Firm generally does not accept new pro bono clients directly. Rather, it receives referrals of potential cases from reputable agencies which screen clients for income and substantive eligibility. Such entities include: