The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
August 18, 2011

Challenge Firm Partner: Pro Bono “Meaningful and Fulfilling”

Arnold & Porter LLP*, along with Archer & Greiner, the Brennan Center, and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, is leading a pro bono project to challenge a newly enacted zoning law in Bridgewater, N.J., which was designed to block the development of a proposed mosque in the town.  Arnold & Porter Partner Peter J. Zimroth spoke to 200 Muslim supporters of the Al Falah Center, and The New York Law Journal recently published his remarks.

Zimroth speaks of an “evident injustice being done” to block the mosque’s construction, when there are 18 houses of worship in the town, and none of them are Islamic.  He commends the Muslim community in Bridgewater for “striving to reach the ideals of this country, to make the nation more perfect,” despite post-9/11 prejudice against Muslims.   He speaks of his own personal involvement of the case, saying:

Of course, we lawyers appreciate the thanks you are giving us for undertaking this case. But no thank yous are required. A case like this is, after all, one of the things that makes our lives as lawyers most meaningful and fulfilling—by participating in your attempt to uphold the ideals of American democracy.

  To read a full copy of Zimroth’s speech, please click here.

Zimroth’s expression of his own personal commitment to the case highlights how rewarding the participation of a firm partner can be in a controversial case, as it resulted in increased media attention for the firm and the Bridgewater Muslim community.  Involving your firms’ partners in pro bono matters also broadens a firm’s pro bono capacity and helps ensure the long-term vitality of pro bono by sending a clear message that pro bono is a firm value and not only for associates.

What are some of the techniques that your firm has successfully used to involve partners in pro bono?  Leave us a comment below.

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

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