The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
April 5, 2011

Another Exciting Pro Bono Win

The PBEye is pleased to learn about another exciting pro bono victory!  The New York Law Journal reports that junior-level associates from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP* along with Yale University law students secured a $650,000 settlement for eight day-laborers who alleged they were the victims of racial profiling and anti-immigrant sentiment.

The plaintiffs were among the “Danbury 11,” a group of day-laborers who were arrested in an illegal undercover sting operation in Danbury, Conn.  Michael Wishnie, Yale University Professor and part of Yale’s Worker & Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic approached Gibson Dunn to take on the case.  A team of junior-level associates at Gibson Dunn assisted the law students by helping prepare briefs and oral arguments.

Joel Cohen, the Gibson Dunn partner who supervised the case, said, “I tried to do as little of the first chair litigating as I could because I felt it was an opportunity for [the associates] to get that experience . . . It is what pro bono can be at its best because it’s a combination of high-quality, meaningful work in which associates can also develop litigation skills at an earlier age.”

Third year law student Helen O’Reilly noted, “I didn’t realize how hard it would be to do client counseling . . . You want to give them a fair assessment of their options and they ask you what you think is the right thing to do.   It was one of the most interesting and challenging [experiences] when there were decisions to be made.”

In the end, the firm logged more than 9,000 hours of pro bono service representing the day laborers in this case.

This is a great example of how a firm was able to empower associates through pro bono work, enhance their professional development, and partner with a law school.  Has your firm had success in partnering with law students?  How do you use pro bono to enhance professional development?  Let us know in the comments below.

*Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®

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