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. We believe that pro bono work is a critical component of our profession and an important factor in establishing our true excellence as a law firm. We have a responsibility to assist the disadvantaged, to help build a more inclusive society and to help provide equal access to justice. These are the guiding tenets of our pro bono program.
In June 2020, Mayer Brown launched Project Equity in recognition of the important role that law firms and lawyers have to play in addressing systemic racism and promoting racial equity in the law. The project is designed to broaden the firm’s strategic engagement on issues of racial and social justice and to help bring about meaningful change. Our firm has pledged to devote 50,000 hours to Project Equity initiatives over three years. To that end, and in collaboration with our nonprofit partners, we have developed pro bono and community service opportunities focused on five issue areas: (1) voter rights, (2) criminal justice and policing reform, (3) housing and economic stability, (4) education and (5) minority-owned small business assistance. Our firm also committed significant financial contributions in support of organizations working to advance racial justice and that support communities of color in the United States. Our pro bono work has received many accolades, including most recently from the City Bar Justice Center, which honored Mayer Brown for its commitment to promoting racial, social and economic justice through pro bono legal services and other philanthropic endeavors.
To learn more about our work with the City Bar Justice Center, please watch this video.
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 the Global Director of Pro Bono and a dedicated team of four fulltime attorneys. 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:
- Advice Clinics
- Affordable Housing
- Anti-Poverty and Economic Development Initiatives
- Appellate and US Supreme Court Litigation
- Arts & Culture
- Asylum, Immigration and Refugee Law
- Civil Liberties& Civil Rights
- Death Penalty
- Eviction Defense
- Indigent Criminal Defense
- Intellectual Property
- International Human Rights and Rule of Law
- LGBTQ+ Rights
- 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.
- Mayer Brown received Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights “Outstanding Law Firm Partner Award” for our impactful pro bono support of small businesses primarily serving disadvantaged communities.
- Mayer Brown received the 2023 City Bar Justice Center Award for our commitment to promoting racial, social, and economic justice through a range of pro bono legal services and other philanthropic commitments.
- Mayer Brown was named as a 2022 Pro Bono Innovator by Bloomberg Law for our work securing a September 2022 win in federal district court on behalf of people seeking asylum in the United States and for helping to evacuate 150 students from Afghanistan during the US withdrawal in August 2021.
- Mayer Brown was named a Pro Bono Leader in 2022 by the American Bar Association for our work as part of Free Legal Answers, a virtual legal advice clinic in which qualifying users post civil legal questions to be answered by pro bono attorneys licensed in their state.
- Mayer Brown was awarded Most Effective Pro Bono Partnership for its joint work on the Afghan Pro Bono Initiative at the LawWorks Annual Pro Bono Awards 2022.
- Mayer Brown Germany awarded the Pro Bono: Outstanding Firm Award at the Chambers Europe Awards 2022 for its extensive pro bono work and for serving a range of clients.
- The Law Society of Hong Kong presented Mayer Brown with its 2021 Gold Law Firm Award for its dedication to pro bono work and community service.
- The Law Society of Hong Kong presented Mayer Brown with its 2020 Distinguished Pro Bono Law Firm Award and Silver Law Firm Award for its dedication to pro bono work and community service.
- Mayer Brown awarded the Company Award of the 2018/20 Recognition Scheme for Provision of Pro Bono Legal Services for its participation and contribution to pro bono services in Hong Kong.
- Mayer Brown received the Asian Pro Bono Initiative of the Year award at the Asia Legal Awards 2020.
- Mayer Brown awarded 2020 Business Charity Award in the UK for its flagship pro bono project with anti-poverty charity Z2K.
- Mayer Brown named to The National Law Journal’s 2020 “Pro Bono Hot List”
- Mayer Brown recognized for "Outstanding Pro Bono Program – International" at the Chambers Diversity & Inclusion Awards: Asia Pacific 2020.
- The Law Society of Hong Kong presented Mayer Brown with its 2019 Gold Law Firm Award for its dedication to pro bono work and community service.
- Mayer Brown received the John Howard Association’s 2019 Partnership Award for the firm’s work with JHA in criminal justice reform.
- Mayer Brown received Lutheran Social Services of New York’s 2019 Honorable Daniel W. Joy Dedicated Service Award, which recognizes “an individual, organization, group or business that uses its expertise, experience or professional talents to enhance and support the work of Lutheran Social Services of New York and the individuals that it serves.
- The New York State Bar Association honored Mayer Brown with its 2019 President’s Pro Bono Service Award in the Large Law Firm category in recognition of the “breadth and scope of the firm’s pro bono involvement and its active and successful promotion of the pro bono service by firm attorneys.
- For the second year in a row, Mayer Brown was honored as a 2019 Champion for Children by the Children’s Law Center.
- 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.
- Mayer Brown received the Asian Pro Bono Initiative of the Year award at the Asia Legal Awards 2019.
- 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.
- 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 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. 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.