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Fenwick Throws Support Behind Right to Civil Counsel Movement

San Francisco, CA (December 19, 2012) – Fenwick & West is pleased to announce that the firm has signed on as a 2013 Right to Civil Counsel firm for the Volunteer Legal Services Program of The Bar Association of San Francisco. The Right to Civil Counsel—or “Civil Gideon”—movement advocates for free legal services in cases involving basic human needs.

“We are excited to kick-start this initiative,” said Fenwick partner and pro bono chair Patrick Premo. “No one should be denied the right to counsel in a case that affects his or her ability to survive. If our legal services can help someone keep a roof over his or her family’s head, then we are thrilled to be able to help.”

San Francisco is the nation’s first “Right to Civil Counsel City.” Under the pilot project umbrella, private-sector attorneys will volunteer their time to represent clients in civil proceedings with a focus on eviction defense work. Other areas of work include family law, consumer law and supplemental security income advocacy.

“The importance of this program cannot be overstated,” said Fenwick associate Sebastian Kaplan, a BASF officer and one of the leaders of the Housing Negotiation Project and Right to Counsel effort at Fenwick & West. “I read Gideon’s Trumpet before law school and was deeply impressed by the importance of counsel in criminal proceedings. After working with VLSP, I saw first-hand the equal and powerful injustice at work when our neighbors cannot obtain counsel to protect their fundamental human needs, like housing.”

“The city of San Francisco called upon each member of the bar to step up and help those denied the right to counsel in civil cases that affect basic needs. At Fenwick, we rallied to that call,” he said.

Fenwick was recognized for its participation on December 11 at the BASF Installation of Officers ceremony.

In addition to the firm’s continued commitment to VLSP’s limited-scope eviction defense project, the Housing Negotiation Project, Fenwick has also committed to taking on at least four full-scope housing cases in 2013.

About Fenwick & West
Fenwick & West provides comprehensive legal services to technology and life sciences clients of national and international prominence. Fenwick is committed to providing innovative, cost-effective and practical legal services that focus on global technology industries and issues. We have built internationally-recognized practices in a wide spectrum of tax, litigation, corporate and IP areas. We have also received praise for our innovative use of technology, our pro bono work and diversity efforts. We differentiate ourselves by having a deep understanding of our clients' technologies, industry environments and business needs.