Overview

Mayer Brown is a leader in developing innovative approaches to pro bono work. We were the first major law firm to develop and implement a pro bono strategic plan, and we strive to pioneer projects that will have a substantial impact, both locally and globally. Each year we donate tens of thousands of hours of legal services to the poor and disadvantaged and to the organizations that serve them. The firm’s commitment to pro bono has received many accolades, including most recently from The National Law Journal, which named Mayer Brown to its 2017 “Pro Bono Hot List.” The publication touts Mayer Brown’s pro bono work on restoring trust between police and communities in US cities, including the firm’s widely publicized contributions to the work of Chicago’s Police Accountability Task Force. 

The firm also encourages lawyers and staff to participate in all manner of community service activities. We take seriously our responsibility to the communities in which we live and work, and we are committed to being a good corporate citizen.

Our Structure

Mayer Brown strongly encourages every lawyer to participate in the pro bono program and provides credit for the hours they donate. In the United States, we are a signatory to the “Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge,” which commits us to devote 3 percent of total billable time to pro bono work. We are also a signatory to the “UK Joint Protocol on Pro Bono Work,” which stipulates that pro bono legal work must be carried out to the same standard as chargeable work.

Our program is managed by a Pro Bono Director in the United States and a CSR Manager in the United Kingdom, and it is overseen by the firm’s Global Pro Bono Committee, which is made up of lawyers from every office and almost every practice. In addition, there are local and regional pro bono committees to ensure a robust and diverse pro bono program.

Our Pro Bono Work

The guiding purpose of our program is to use the resources of one of the world’s largest law firms to attack systemic problems. We have formalized projects that allow us to maximize impact while still encouraging our lawyers to find individual cases and issues of importance to them.

Through our pro bono program, we not only help individuals to rebuild and restore their lives, we help to foster the industries and organizations that address the underlying issues and challenges. Some of the areas we cover are: 

  • Adoptions
  • Advice Clinics
  • Affordable Housing
  • Anti-Poverty and Economic Development Initiatives
  • Appellate and US Supreme Court Litigation
  • Arts & Culture
  • Asylum, Immigration and Refugee Law
  • Death Penalty
  • Environment
  • Eviction Defense
  • Indigent Criminal Defense
  • Intellectual Property
  • International Human Rights and Rule of Law
  • Landlord/Tenant Real Estate Issues
  • Mediation and Settlement Assistance
  • Microentreprenuers and Small Businesses
  • Microfinance/Social Finance
  • Not-for-Profit and Charitable Organizations
  • Prisoner’s Rights
  • Public Benefits
  • Veteran’s Benefits

In addition to donating time, the firm regularly makes financial contributions to public and legal services organizations, and was among the first large law firms to integrate charitable giving and the pro bono program.

Our Community Service Work

Our lawyers and staff participate in community service activities around the world, often partnering with both public interest and private corporate clients in a variety of activities.

One of the crucial ways we fulfill our social responsibility is through supporting education-related programs and organizations. These include reading, mentoring, and clean-up initiatives in schools in and around London, New York, Washington DC, Chicago and Los Angeles.

In addition to serving on boards of directors of public service and civic organizations, our lawyers and staff in the United States, Europe and Asia also participate in programs to build homes, assist food banks, visit elderly centers, raise funds, and arrange donations of food, furniture and other items for community organizations.

What We Believe

We participate in pro bono and community service efforts around the world, believing them to be a critical component of our profession and an important factor in establishing our true excellence as a law firm.

Accolades

  • The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs honored Mayer Brown with its 2018 Outstanding Achievement Award for exceptional commitment to civil rights and justice.
  • Mayer Brown received the Best Philanthropy Engagement award at the MPF Awards 2019 for advising Global Parametrics on a pro bono basis on the creation of a complex OTC weather/catastrophe derivative.
  • The Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE) honored Mayer Brown with its 2018 Superstar Award for providing exceptional representation to survivors of sexual exploitation.
  • Mayer Brown was honored by the Posse Foundation with its 2018 pro bono and community service award for the firm’s deep commitment to supporting children and education.
  • Mayer Brown received the "Asian Pro Bono Initiative of the Year" award at the Asia Legal Awards 2019.
  • Mayer Brown was named to the Public Interest Law Initiative’s 2018 Pro Bono Recognition Roster for its contributions and commitment to pro bono in Illinois.
  • The Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice honored Mayer Brown at its 2017 Celebration of International Pro Bono Excellence for advising The Nature Conservancy on its efforts to balance energy development and the conservation of river systems in Mexico.
  • The Law Society of Hong Kong presented Mayer Brown with its 2017 Bronze Law Firm Award for dedicating more than 1,500 hours to pro bono work and community service.
  • Mayer Brown was named to the 2017 Pro Bono Hot List by The National Law Journal for our work on restoring trust between police and communities in US cities, including the firm’s widely publicized contributions to the work of Chicago’s Police Accountability Task Force.
  • Children’s Law Center recognized Mayer Brown as its 2017 Children’s Pro Bono Champion for partnering to support vulnerable children and families in the District of Columbia. 
  • Mayer Brown was honored by the Lawyers Alliance for New York with its 2017 Cornerstone Award for dedicating countless pro bono hours to assist nonprofit organizations and clients. 
  • Mayer Brown was the recipient of The Legal Aid Society of New York’s 2017 Pro Bono Publico Award for outstanding service to the Legal Aid Society and its clients.  
  • Skills for Chicagoland’s Future presented Mayer Brown with its 2017 Anniversary Partner Award for dedicating hundreds of hours of support and advocacy to further the organization’s mission of serving the underemployed and unemployed.
  • The Washington Council of Lawyers recognized Mayer Brown with its 2017 Law Firm Award for partnering to support the Council’s programs, mission and those in need in the District of Columbia.
  • Mayer Brown was honored by Public Advocates as a Pro Bono Champion for our contributions to the organization’s work on education equity.
  • Mayer Brown was honored by CAIR Coalition with its Impacting Justice Award for our work in launching the organization’s project representing individuals caught in the complicated intersection between criminal and immigration law.
  • Mayer Brown was the recipient of The Legal Aid Society of New York’s Pro Bono Publico Award for our work on litigation involving housing discrimination based on source of income.
  • Mayer Brown and Caterpillar were recognized as 2016 Pro Bono Innovators of the Year by LegalTech News and The Recorder for our work on the Forced Marriage Initiative with the Tahirih Justice Center.
  • Mayer Brown received the “Bill of Rights in Action Award” from the Constitutional Rights Foundation for its work on marriage equality cases.
  • DC Appleseed honored Mayer Brown for helping the District of Columbia gain budget autonomy.
  • The Tahirih Justice Center named Mayer Brown and Caterpillar Inc. as its 2014 “Corporate Partners of the Year” for investing more than 3,500 pro bono hours researching forced marriage.
  • The Texas Defender Service honored Mayer Brown’s Houston office for pro bono death penalty representation.
  • The National Pro Bono Committee of the AT&T Legal Department has named Mayer Brown the inaugural winner of the “AT&T Pro Bono Partner Law Firm of the Year” award for 2014.
  • Mayer Brown received the 2013 Pro Bono Partner Award from United Way of Metropolitan Chicago in honor of its significant pro bono support and commitment to the community. United Way focuses on creating social change by investing in education, income and health programs to ensure people have the tools they need to thrive.
  • Mayer Brown was honored by the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) for assistance the firm provided in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
  • Mayer Brown was the recipient of The Legal Aid Society of New York’s 2013 and 2012 Pro Bono Publico Award for outstanding service to the Legal Aid Society and its clients.
  • Mayer Brown was named “Law Firm of the Year” by Community Legal Services of East Palo Alto (CLSEPA) for providing significant pro bono legal counsel to CLSEPA clients during the past year.
  • Mayer Brown was recognized as a member of Appleseed’s “Orchard of Justice,” which honors law firms that have donated $1 million in pro bono hours within the past five years. Appleseed is a nonprofit network of 17 public interest justice centers in the United States and Mexico that uncovers and corrects injustices through legal, legislative and market-based structural reform.
  • Mayer Brown was named the “Best Firm for Pro Bono Work” at the 2012 Asia Women in Business Law Awards organized by International Financial Law Review. In addition, Restructuring, Bankruptcy & Insolvency senior associate Justine Lau (Hong Kong) was named a “Rising Star.” The awards recognized the firm’s commitment to advocacy for women in pro bono activities.
  • Mayer Brown was honored in 2011 by the Thomson Reuters Foundation for its work with Transparency International on the United Nations Convention Against Corruption Global Review Project.
  • Mayer Brown was the recipient of The Legal Aid Society of New York’s 2010 and 2011 Pro Bono Publico Award for outstanding service to the Legal Aid Society and its clients.
  • Mayer Brown received the 2011 LatinoJustice PRLDEF Cesar A. Perales Award for our work on the annual “How to Succeed in Law School” program.
  • Mayer Brown was the recipient of 2011 Pro Bono Initiative Award from the Public Interest Law Initiative.
  • Mayer Brown was named to the Public Interest Law Initiative’s inaugural Pro Bono Recognition Roster in honor of our noteworthy pro bono contributions in 2010 and 2011.
  • The Financial Times recognized three Mayer Brown pro bono projects as among the most innovative in the United States. These projects were for the Yale Law School Supreme Court Clinic, leading global microfinance lender BRAC, and the Corporation for Supportive Housing.
  • The Washington Post recognized Mayer Brown as one of its 2010 Businesses that Give Back for the firm’s extensive work on a project with Appleseed and Appleseed México on the screening, protection, and repatriation of the more than 15,000 unaccompanied Mexican minors who cross the border and end up in federal custody each year.
  • Mayer Brown’s London office won the 2010 LawWorks Award for Best Contribution by a Law Firm.
  • Mayer Brown was the recipient of the 2010 Justice John Paul Stevens Law Firm Pro Bono Award from the Seventh Circuit Bar Association’s Pro Bono and Public Bar Service Awards Committee.
  • Mayer Brown was a recipient of Equip for Equality’s 2009 Pro Bono Leaders Award.
  • Mayer Brown received the 2008 Distinguished Service Award from the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Foundation.
  • Mayer Brown was a recipient of the 2008 National Law Journal Pro Bono Award for our work with The List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies, an organization that helps to resettle those Iraqis who have been targeted by insurgents because of their work for the U.S. Government.
  • Mayer Brown was honored at the Innocence Project's 2008 Celebration of Freedom & Justice Benefit in recognition of our extensive partnership with organization.
  • Mayer Brown was a recipient of the Southern Center for Human Rights' 2007 Frederick Douglass Human Rights Award and the National Legal Aid & Defender Association's 2007 Beacon of Justice Award, for our work on the Guantanamo detainee litigation.
  • Mayer Brown was a recipient of the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project's 2007 Law Firm of the Year Award for our work on behalf of death row inmates.
  • Mayer Brown was a recipient of the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s 2007 Pro Bono Award for establishing the federal court limited appointment settlement project.