Familiarity with the courts, knowledge of your legal rights, and an effective legal strategy can all be out of reach if you don’t have the means to hire an attorney.
Those who are most vulnerable—the poor, the sick, the children, the newly arrived—have a deep, and unmet, need for legal services.
Pro bono work by lawyers and law firms helps to fill this gap, and doing our part has been a core value since the firm’s founding.
At Zuckerman Spaeder, performing legal work pro bono is one way we do our part to help those in need. It’s worth remembering that the full phrase is pro bono publico—for the public good. It serves the public good to make sure that everyone has an opportunity for justice in our courts. This principle is central to who we are as a firm and who we are as lawyers.
The vast majority of our pro bono work involves direct representation of low-income individuals or the organizations that represent them. Many of these representations are referred to us by federal and state courts or by legal service providers because they present important issues of law, have the potential to benefit a large number of people, or are particularly challenging.
Legal Aid Society Appellate Advocacy Project
Since 2004, Zuckerman Spaeder has helped to create, and has worked in partnership with, the appellate project of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia to advocate on behalf of those in greatest need. Focusing on public benefits, housing, family, and consumer law, the Barbara McDowell Appellate Advocacy Project provides high-quality representation to people who cannot afford a lawyer in civil appeals before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. This legal aid appellate project is one of the first in the nation.
Legal services for immigrants
Zuckerman Spaeder provides legal ethics advice to a national provider of legal services to immigrants. Firm attorneys have secured political asylum for a victim of torture, special immigrant juvenile status for an undocumented child, and low bail for an immigrant who was arrested and detained. Special immigrant juvenile status is also sought for additional undocumented children.
The National Health Law Program, which educates, advocates and litigates health care issues, turns to Zuckerman Spaeder for representation in lawsuits in which it is a party or a friend of the court. We also provide pro bono assistance to persons of limited means who have been denied health insurance coverage by an insurance carrier.
Public and government service
Many Zuckerman Spaeder attorneys bring public service experience to the firm. Among our ranks are former public defenders and prosecutors, public interest law litigators, and many judicial law clerks.
Our pro bono clients benefit from the combined experience and dedication of these attorneys and their colleagues, who strive to provide the highest caliber of legal service to all of their clients.
DC Bar pro bono challenge
Our office in Washington, D.C., is a signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge of the Pro Bono Institute and its equivalent issued by the District of Columbia Bar, through which we have pledged to invest in pro bono service time equivalent to at least three percent of time spent by our partners, counsel and associates on paying matters. Our New York office is a signatory to the like-minded Pro Bono Statement of Principles issued by the New York City Bar Association.
Benjamin Orr Elementary School
Under the auspices of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, Zuckerman Spaeder has partnered with the D.C. public school Benjamin Orr Elementary School. Through our partnership, firm attorneys and other professionals coach teams of Orr students to compete in city-wide tournaments involving games that require knowledge of U.S. geography.
We also prepare individual Orr students to deliver a speech written by Frederick Douglass before judges and an audience, during the annual national Frederick Douglass Oratorical Contest conducted by the National Park Service at the Douglass home in the Washington, D.C. The firm helped to establish the Orr Parent Teacher Organization and continues to assist the Orr PTO with events to encourage parental engagement and for student graduation.