The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
July 11, 2011

Interns’ Day Out

Last week The PBEye introduced you to our summer interns.  Today we thought we’d talk about one of the many exciting intern events they experienced so far this summer.  Last Wednesday, our interns and several staff members visited Holland & Knight LLP’s* DC office to meet with Steve Hanlon, a longtime friend of PBI.  Throughout his career, Hanlon has handled a number of civil rights cases, having received countless awards for his work.  When the PBI contingency met with Hanlon, he recounted two of his most memorable cases and offered advice to the aspiring lawyers in the audience. 

Steve Hanlon, Pro Bono Partner

The first case Hanlon discussed was Rosewood Victims v. State of Florida.  Tragedy struck predominantly African American Rosewood in 1923 when whites from neighboring towns burned Rosewood to the ground, leaving six African Americans dead.  Rosewood was effectively wiped off the map and the chilling event erased from Florida’s history, but, in 1991, survivors sought justice by filing a claims bill against the state.  Hanlon represented the survivors for three years, and his work— bolstered by the compelling testimony of the witnesses—resulted in more than $2 million in compensation.

Hanlon then described his recent involvement in Havasupai Indians v. Arizona State University, in which the Havasupai tribe sued the researchers who had used the tribe’s DNA for research without consent.  The tribe agreed to provide blood samples for diabetes research, but the researchers used them for other purposes.  For Hanlon, restoring dignity to the tribe’s traditions was not only a professional success, but also personally rewarding.

The discussion was both informative and inspirational.  Particularly moving was Hanlon’s discussion of the long-term friendships he developed with clients in each case.  His work demonstrates the real power of pro bono—without a doubt, his pro bono work changed the lives of his clients and their descendents for generations to come. PBI interns are very grateful for this real-life example of one attorney’s commitment to pro bono, and, in particular, to have had the opportunity to meet with Hanlon and hear about his passion in person.

*denotes a Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®

Hat tip to PBI Intern Mallory Kennedy for her help with this story

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