Our pro bono practice is dedicated to ensuring that disadvantaged people and communities have representation and access to justice.
We provide these services as a responsibility to our profession and as a civic duty to the communities in which we live and work. Every year, our lawyers donate more than three percent of their total billable hours to pro bono legal services. They offer both transactional and litigation services to a broad range of clients, including nonprofits, for-profit businesses in economically disadvantaged areas, and lower-income individuals. Our clients include asylum seekers, veterans, DACA recipients, survivors of human trafficking and low-income renters facing eviction.
As residents of California — a state home to about a quarter of the nation’s foreign-born population — we feel a particular responsibility to provide legal services to immigrants. In addition to providing full-scope representation to numerous clients in U-visa, VAWA and asylum cases, our lawyers assist hundreds of clients each year at immigration and naturalization clinics throughout the Bay Area, helping the newest generation of Americans find their footing.
Fenwick filed an amicus brief on behalf of 49 technology companies in support of the order barring the federal government from enforcing Section 9(a) of Executive Order 13768, which authorizes it to withhold federal funding from so-called “sanctuary jurisdictions.” In the brief, the Fenwick team wrote: “Diversity, openness, and tolerance are among our greatest strengths, and our effort to more fully realize these values is fundamental to who we are.”
Pro Bono Corporate Partnerships
Since 2007, Fenwick has lead the way in partnering with in-house legal departments in co-counseling and otherwise jointly engaging pro bono clinics. By engaging with companies in our community, we are able to leverage our skills and expand the reach of our pro bono practice and extend our legal resources to the greatest number of people. We have partnered with numerous Silicon Valley clients at pro bono clinics focusing on issues including DACA renewals, naturalization, and access to medical benefits, to name a few. In addition to partnering with our clients at clinics, we’ve also teamed up with clients on successful full-scope pro bono cases.
Our clinics have included:
- Immigration clinic – DACA Renewal, U-Visa, asylum, work authorization, adjustment of status, citizenship, naturalization
- Housing clinic
- Expungement clinic
- Nonprofit legal audit clinic
- Special education clinic
- Share of Costs health care clinic
Helping Local Nonprofits Thrive
Fenwick is committed to providing free legal assistance to nonprofits, assisting in matters including acquisitions, intellectual property protection, and tax exemption. By helping nonprofits deal with the legal hurdles they face, our lawyers allow them to focus on what they do best: serving our community.
Advising and Assisting Startups
Fenwick is dedicated to supporting startups in economically challenged areas by providing them with free legal assistance as they navigate the landscape of starting and running a business. Our corporate and trademark groups work in partnership with Start Small Think Big — a nonprofit that helps low-to-moderate income entrepreneurs build businesses — to provide legal services to small businesses in underserved areas of New York and the Bay Area.
Federal Pro Bono Litigation and Appellate Work
We’re proud of our participation in the Federal Pro Bono Project, a program which assists federal prisoners with civil rights claims. Fenwick has handled nine cases for the project, assisting prisoners who lack the resources to hire an attorney but whom a court has deemed to possess potentially meritorious cases. In 2017, a Fenwick team secured the first favorable trial result for a Federal Pro Bono Project case referred to a law firm, obtaining punitive and compensatory damages for a client who had been physically assaulted by prison guards. In total, Fenwick has handled 32 pro bono-related appeals in the Ninth Circuit.
Protecting Voting Rights
We are dedicated to using our legal expertise and resources to preserve voting rights and access to democracy for all. In 2016, we hosted Silicon Valley’s first Election Protection call center in partnership with Election Protection and other local law firms, an effort we will repeat every two years. And since 2011, Fenwick has served as pro bono counsel for Verified Voting, a key player in the Election Protection coalition that is dedicated to ensuring the integrity of voting machines.
Pro bono is a high priority for the Fenwick family, and we work hard to help keep our neighbors in their homes in our communities which face a critical storage of affordable housing. Recently, a Fenwick team scored a major litigation victory when it succeeded in protecting Measure V — a rent stabilization and just cause eviction measure in the Silicon Valley city of Mountain View — from a challenge by the California Apartment Association. In addition, Fenwick lawyers volunteer on a bi-monthly basis with the Housing Negotiation Project, providing limited-scope representation to low-income tenants facing eviction.
Assisting Rural Communities
Fenwick lawyers volunteer on an ongoing basis with OneJustice’s Justice Bus Project — a highly impactful and popular pro bono effort offered multiple times every year. Launched in 2007 by OneJustice, the project was designed to provide legal help to isolated and rural California communities. Multiple times throughout the year, our attorneys board the Justice Bus and travel throughout the region to volunteer at a variety of legal aid clinics, including those focused on naturalization and expungement. Fenwick also has an ongoing involvement with OneJustice’s Rural Justice Collaborative: Each year, we serve over one hundred clients at clinics throughout rural Northern California.
Sponsorships: Equal Justice Works Fellows
At Fenwick, we’re dedicated to supporting the legal services community to ensure that access to justice is available to everyone. That’s why each year, Fenwick sponsors an Equal Justice Works fellow who commits their time to providing legal services to those who need it most. Listed below are the projects our fellows are completing or have completed:
- Susan Beaty: Centro Legal de la Raza, Expanding representation and resources for incarcerated immigrants facing deportation (2018)
- Danny Waxwing: Disability Rights Washington, AVID Prison Program, Launching the Trans in Prison Justice Project (2018)
- Danica Rodarmel: Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, Bail reform in California (2017)
- Brittany Tyler: Bay Area Legal Aid, Medical-legal partnership to provide legal services to domestic violence victims (2016)
- Renee Schomp: OneJustice, Connecting rural California immigrants with immigration assistance (2015)
- Leo Flor: Northwest Justice Project, Support for criminal-justice involved veterans (2013)
- Angelica Salceda: ACLU of Northern California, Equal opportunities for pregnant and parenting students in Central Valley schools (2013)