Public Service and Pro Bono
Obtaining a significant judgment from the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights—the highest court in the African Union—in the first freedom of expression case in the court’s history.
The case, Konaté v. Burkina Faso, involved Lohé Issa Konaté, a journalist from Burkina Faso, who was imprisoned for a year, and whose newspaper was closed for allegedly insulting and defaming a local prosecutor in Burkina Faso.
Representing First Step Economic Opportunity Zone in negotiations with the government of Sierra Leone for the construction of a $150 million steel plant—the nation’s first, and the only one in West Africa—to bring manufacturing capability, jobs and export business in the aftermath of the country’s civil war. In 2009, the firm helped negotiate an agreement between Washington DC–based nonprofit World Hope International, its subsidiary First Step and the Sierra Leone government to create a special economic zone in that country.
Helping to remove barriers in public schools on behalf of Richmond, Virginia’s citizens with disabilities. In an important ruling, the court required that Richmond City Public Schools comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act so that the city’s citizens with disabilities would have full access to services, programs and activities held at school facilities.
Representing six Bosnian-Algerians who had been detained at Guantanamo Bay for seven years in the historic Boumediene v. Bush decision, in which the US Supreme Court ruled that detainees held in Guantanamo Bay have a constitutional right to challenge their detention in US civilian courts. Subsequently, a federal court upheld the claim that the US government had no lawful basis for imprisoning five of the six Bosnian-Algerian men at Guantanamo Bay.
Successfully contending that the Eighth Amendment forbids the death penalty for persons under the age of 18 in Simmons v. Roper, one of the most significant death-penalty decisions in recent history.
Overturning the wrongful conviction of Dewey Bozella, who spent 26 years in a New York prison for a murder he did not commit. WilmerHale continues to support the Dewey Bozella Foundation and provides other legal services (in 2011, ESPN presented Bozella with its Arthur Ashe Courage Award and released a documentary on his long quest for justice).
Representing the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in arbitration at The Hague’s Peace Palace, during which boundary disputes giving rise to ongoing conflict were resolved.
Pro Bono Contacts
- WilmerHale receives the Pro Bono Partner of the Year Award from the National Veterans Legal Services Program.
- The firm is honored by FamilyAid at its Home for the Holidays celebration for its longstanding pro bono support.
- WilmerHale receives the Foot Soldier in the Sand Award for outstanding contribution of pro bono legal services to the NAACP.
- The firm is honored with the Marvin Frankel Award for outstanding dedication to pro bono service and work on behalf of asylum seekers by Human Rights First.
- WilmerHale is recognized as the Advocacy Firm of the Year from the Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center for our extensive work in the human trafficking field.
- WilmerHale receives the Pro Bono Outstanding Service Award from the Political Asylum and Immigration Representation Project (PAIR) for our representation of an pro bono client who was granted asylum in the United States after an 11-year case.
- For the 13th year, the firm is recognized in The American Lawyer’s annual “A-List,” a compilation of leading US firms that recognizes overall excellence, financial success, commitment to pro bono work, workforce diversity, and the training and development of younger lawyers.
- WilmerHale is among the top 20 law firms in The American Lawyer’s list of the top 200 firms for pro bono work, both nationally and internationally.
- Brooklyn Defender Services’ Family Defense Practice honors WilmerHale at its annual benefit in New York for the firm’s impressive level of support provided through monetary contributions, strategic advice and counseling, and leadership on the advisory board.
- The firm is honored at DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice’s awards reception for its pro bono contributions.
- WilmerHale receives the Neighborhood Legal Services Program’s Enduring Impact Award, which recognizes organizations that have a deep impact on the lives of low-income Washington DC residents and provide continued support to the nonprofit.
- For the third consecutive time, Sanctuary for Families, a service provider for survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking and other related forms of gender violence, honors WilmerHale with an Above & Beyond Award for Excellence in Pro Bono Advocacy.
- WilmerHale is recognized among the Vault Law 100, an annual ranking that honors the best firms based on a compilation of factors, including pro bono work.
- WilmerHale receives the Pro Bono Law Firm Award from PAIR for excellence in and dedication to asylum pro bono service. WilmerHale has represented PAIR clients since 1989, winning asylum for indigent asylum-seekers who fled from Algeria, Cameroon, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ghana, Lebanon, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tibet and Uganda.
- WilmerHale is honored for its leadership and dedication to public service at the City Bar Justice Center’s 10th annual gala. Through programs such as the Legal Clinic for the Homeless, Veteran’s Assistance Program and 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund, WilmerHale has provided pro bono legal services to dozens of homeless families, veterans, unaccompanied minors and victims of the 9/11 attack.
- Legal Aid of Western Ohio presents WilmerHale with the Signature Sponsor Award for Access to Justice, recognizing the firm’s continued support.
- For the second consecutive year, Sanctuary for Families honors WilmerHale during the 12th Annual Above & Beyond Event, which celebrates lawyers who have made a positive impact on the lives of domestic violence and sex trafficking victims through pro bono representation.
- WilmerHale is included in Financial Times’ North America Innovative Lawyers Social Responsibility list for its firmwide Community Partnership Model.
- For the third consecutive year, Law360 names WilmerHale to its “Pro Bono Firms of the Year” list for notable successes ranging from issues affecting the United States to life-altering representations of individual clients.
- WilmerHale is recognized among the nation’s top law firms for commitment to pro bono work in The American Lawyer’s AmLaw 200 rankings.
- WilmerHale is honored for outstanding pro bono dedication and efforts at the Healing & Hope reception, an annual awards ceremony and fundraiser for the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth.
- Who’s Who Legal names WilmerHale to its “Pro Bono Leading Firm” list, honoring the firm for committing significant time and resources to strengthen local communities.
- The firm is recognized during a Women’s Bar Foundation event in Boston for its longstanding dedication to representing survivors of domestic violence and assisting seniors in need of end-of-life documents
2012 and Earlier
2012 and Earlier
- WilmerHale receives the Pro Bono Publico Award for outstanding service to the Legal Aid Society and its clients, and is recognized for its representation of the Coalition for the Homeless as well as its partnership with the New York Legal Aid Society.
- WilmerHale is among 14 law firms to receive the National Legal Aid & Defender Association’s Beacon of Justice Award. This year’s award recognizes firms that have innovative public-private partnerships that protect equal justice for all through appellate litigation.
- WilmerHale receives The Child Welfare League of America’s annual National Corporate Advocate of the Year Award. The firm is recognized for providing unsurpassed pro bono service to fight laws that prevent gay, lesbian and unmarried families from providing care and homes to children in need.
- The American Constitution Society, Boston Chapter, recognizes WilmerHale as a leader in pro bono representation on important constitutional rights issues. The firm receives this recognition for its representation of the petitioners in Boumediene v. Bush to successfully secure justice for inmates at Guantanamo Bay.
- The American Bar Association’s Litigation Section gives WilmerHale the John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism award. The award is presented to individuals and law firms that have made “outstanding contributions to the quality of justice in their communities, ensuring that the legal system is open and available to all.” Since 2001, only four firms have received the award.
- WilmerHale’s International Arbitration Practice is awarded the honor of Pro Bono Team of the Year at The Lawyer Awards in London for the group’s work on behalf of The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army.
- WilmerHale is presented with the Maya Way Award for Community Service and is recognized as a social justice champion and community partner by the See Forever Foundation during a fundraiser to support the Maya Angelou Schools in Washington DC.
- WilmerHale is honored by City Year in recognition of the firm’s 20 years of service representing City Year as its pro bono national counsel.