Lowenstein Sandler LLP announced today the release of its 2017 Pro Bono Report, which details the firm’s pro bono and community service efforts last year, including over 19,000 hours of pro bono work spread among more than 400 clients.
“Over the past 21 years, Lowenstein Sandler has dedicated nearly 400,000 hours to pro bono efforts,” said Gary Wingens, Chair and Managing Partner of the firm. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to saving lives and upholding and reinforcing the rule of law.” Catherine Weiss, Chair of the Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest, added, “As lawyers, we have access to systems of justice that most people cannot navigate, and in 2017, Lowenstein Sandler lawyers across the country defended the rights of the most vulnerable and protected freedom, equality, and fairness.”
Firmwide, Lowenstein Sandler lawyers averaged 64 hours of pro bono work last year. As outlined in the report, the firm’s primary focuses in 2017 were immigration, civil and human rights, and criminal justice.
In the wake of President Donald Trump’s travel ban, volunteers from Lowenstein Sandler worked in shifts at airports to assist those who were affected. The firm also worked with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) to win asylum for several children and teenagers, including two teenage boys who fled gangs in El Salvador and a 13-year-old girl who had been held captive for a year by a gang leader in Honduras. The firm worked with Human Rights First, the American Friends Service Committee, and The Bronx Defenders to win asylum for adults and to secure the release of immigrants wrongly held in detention. Additionally, Lowenstein Sandler worked with OneJustice and the Santa Cruz County Immigration Project to assist immigrants with naturalization petitions.
In addition to this extensive individual representation, Lowenstein Sandler helped prepare immigrant communities and those who work with them for stepped-up immigration enforcement. With the Child Advocacy Clinic at Rutgers Law School, the firm created a power of attorney through which immigrant parents in New Jersey can designate alternative caregivers for their children in the event that the parents are detained or deported. The firm also wrote advisories for nonprofits and congregations on how to respond if ICE agents seek to search the premises or demand information about clients or congregants.
Civil and Human Rights
Lowenstein Sandler was involved in Gill v. Whitford, one of the most consequential cases of the 2017 Supreme Court term. The firm filed an amicus brief on behalf of a wide range of organizations arguing that severe partisan gerrymandering contravenes the fundamental American value that politicians should represent their constituents and remain accountable to them. A decision is expected in June 2018.
The firm also filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The brief argues that the court has consistently rejected, and should continue to reject, arguments that businesses open to the general public have a constitutional right to provide less than the full and equal services required by public accommodation laws.
Lowenstein Sandler represented a man who had been held in solitary confinement for 13 years, after he was placed in permanent Involuntary Protective Custody at age 18. The firm filed a successful motion to get him released into the general population and secured a significant money judgment for him. Through discovery, the firm learned that the man was one of 186 inmates in protective custody who had collectively spent 283,000 days in extreme isolation, and we continue to look into possible remedies for others in our client’s position.
The firm also worked with the National Center for Juvenile Justice to create an interactive map showing the results of a nationwide survey the firm conducted on laws governing solitary confinement in juvenile correctional facilities. The survey became the subject of extensive expert testimony in J.J. v. Litscher, a class action civil rights lawsuit challenging the use of solitary confinement in two juvenile facilities in Wisconsin.
“From its earliest days, Lowenstein Sandler has been committed to public and community service,” Weiss said. “As we look toward the rest of 2018 and beyond, we anticipate a continued focus on immigration, including strategies to reduce record levels of arbitrary detention, and an intensified campaign to end the use of prolonged solitary confinement. In addition, we will step up our work to preserve and create affordable housing and to resist the tidal wave of unjustified eviction.”
Download the 2017 Pro Bono Report.