Fenwick Named a 2023 Pro Bono Innovator by Bloomberg Law

Fenwick has been recognized in Bloomberg Law’s 2023 Pro Bono Innovators special report, which highlights 15 law firms and one company for their work successfully handling impactful legal matters from across the globe, and that “embody innovation and dedication in their pro bono work for the underserved.”

Bloomberg Law honored Fenwick for reaching a settlement eliminating San Mateo [California] Superior Court’s civil assessment program, which imposed a $300 fee for failure to pay traffic fines or respond by court deadline. The work was in partnership with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCRSF), ACLU Foundation of Northern California, and Bay Area Legal Aid. In recognition of this historic victory, the firm also received LCCRSF’s Keta Taylor Colby Award.

“The importance of this case cannot be overstated, said Fenwick’s Eric Ball, lead partner on the case. “Civil assessments disproportionately impact members of our communities who can least afford to pay them, and this suit cemented the path for SB-199, new legislation that eliminated all outstanding civil assessment debts, putting $500 million back into the hands of Californians who needed it most.”

In addition, Bloomberg Law recognized the firm for adapting its Fenwick Labs legal services software solutions to help track an influx of Afghan refugees in need of assistance with humanitarian parole applications. Fenwick previously received the 2022 ABA National Service Award for this program.

“Our work on behalf of Afghan refugees is not over,” said Hilarie Atkisson, Fenwick’s senior director of corporate social responsibility and pro bono counsel. “We will continue to represent those who remain abroad with humanitarian parole applications and those who have arrived in the U.S. with affirmative asylum applications. The innovative system we developed to help the Afghan refugees stands ready to be deployed in other emergency situations where legal assistance is needed.”

Fenwick’s pro bono program is dedicated to ensuring that disadvantaged people and communities have representation and access to justice. Every year, Fenwick attorneys strive to donate at least 3% of their billable hours to this work. Learn more about Fenwick’s pro bono philosophy in this American Bar Association podcast. The complete Q&A featuring the cases Ball and Atkisson discuss can be viewed here.