Mayer Brown’s pro bono program had a great year in 2010, and 2011 is looking even better.  For the first time ever, we met the Pro Bono Institute’s Goal of devoting an average of 60 hours or more per US lawyer to pro bono work.  And firmwide, we provided more than 55,000 hours of pro bono legal services. 

Mayer Brown’s efforts also received a number of important awards and recognitions last year.  In particular, the Financial Times recognized three of our pro bono projects as among the most innovative in the United States.  Honored were our work for the Yale Law School Supreme Court Clinic, for leading global microfinance lender BRAC, and for 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.  More information on the report, “Children at the Border: The Screening, Protection and Repatriation of Unaccompanied Mexican Minors,” can be found in the Headlines section of this Pro Bono E-Lert.  Mayer Brown’s London office was also honored with the national LawWorks Award for Best Contribution by a Law Firm. 

Most important, however, are not the awards that we win, but the work that we do to help the indigent and to improve access to justice.  In 2010, we helped victims of persecution obtain asylum and refugee status in the United States.  We provided legal assistance so that individuals could obtain much-needed public benefits, and helped others facing eviction from their homes.  We provided corporate, tax, and real estate assistance to dozens of not-for-profit organizations in order to help them fulfill their missions, and we helped microentrepreneurs and artists with organizational and intellectual property needs.  We have also been involved in cases dealing with important issues of civil liberties and civil rights.  On a global basis, we started a microfinance and access to finance initiative, which provides a tremendous opportunity to work with and be on the cutting edge of projects to alleviate poverty around the globe, and we have also been working on important rule-of-law and anti-corruption initiatives, as well as environmental and conservation efforts.  

That does not cover everything, but it gives you an idea of the breadth and depth of our pro bono work.  We should all be very proud.

This year, our pro bono hours have surpassed those for the same time period last year and we have taken on a number of exciting new cases and projects.  We would like to see this momentum continue, and we urge each of you—partners, counsel, and associates—to get involved.

Finally, on Tuesday, July 26, we will hold our annual pro bono awards program to recognize those lawyers who have made extraordinary contributions to our society.  We hope that you will turn out to honor and congratulate your colleagues.