September 20, 2016
As we’ve seen repeatedly this past year, the world can be an unpredictable and unforgiving place. On a global scale, we have witnessed this turmoil, from the U.S. criminal justice system and random and targeted violence to a global humanitarian crisis in which huge numbers of refugees fled war and upheaval in the Middle East. At the same time, the benefits of a rebounding global economy continue to elude many low-income people, who are too often left defenseless when beset by illness, injustice, violence or exploitation.
We believe that those fortunate enough to be able to help must help. Weil gladly devotes the energy and legal talents of our attorneys to robustly represent individual pro bono clients. Just as important, we assist and strengthen our partner organizations, whose mission it is to help those in need meet the significant challenges they face. Without our commitment to pro bono service, we would not be a great firm. As individuals and community organizations strive to achieve justice, foster equal opportunity and safeguard fundamental human rights, we believe we have a responsibility – indeed a moral obligation – to come to their aid.
In the United States, our work in criminal justice reform achieved remarkable successes this past year. In California, we secured a victory for inmates in a landmark settlement that ended indeterminate long-term solitary confinement. In Alabama, we helped commute the death sentence of a client who had unjustly spent 23 years on death row. We also helped victims of human trafficking, and in other pro bono areas, advocated for marriage equality and LGBT rights, secured support for students with special education needs and improved access to essential services for the hearing-impaired.
With a presence in nine countries on three continents, Weil is well positioned to provide pro bono assistance internationally as well. Our German offices launched a task force to aid Syrian refugees, and we worked with those seeking asylum from Iraq, Uganda and El Salvador, among others. We supported children’s health initiatives in the Czech Republic and Hungary; joined with international organizations and agencies to curb human rights abuses; assisted efforts to win women’s reproductive freedom around the world; and improved access to restitution for Holocaust survivors in Europe.
These life-changing outcomes would not be possible without the dedication of our attorneys and staff and the pro bono partner organizations with which we are privileged to work. To ensure that this collaboration produces significant results and that our attorneys experience the challenges and rewards of pro bono service, our goal is that all lawyers in the Firm perform 50 hours of pro bono work each year. Every partner is expected to work on a pro bono matter every year, and every new attorney – including lateral partners – is required to take on a pro bono matter.
Last year alone, Weil performed more than 56,000 hours of pro bono work, the equivalent of dozens of full-time lawyers. Our matters spanned the spectrum of need, including asylum and refuge, criminal justice reform, human rights, community and economic development, civil and constitutional rights, children’s welfare and environmental issues. As you explore a sampling of our achievements, we have every confidence that you will understand why we consider the time we spend on pro bono work to be “our finest hours.”
Barry M. Wolf
Pro Bono Committee
Steven Alan Reiss
Pro Bono Committee