Public Service and Pro Bono

Public Service and Pro Bono

WilmerHale maintains a steadfast commitment to pro bono representation and public service, and believes in an inherent obligation to ensure equal access to justice for underserved communities around the world.

Experience

  • 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

Recognition

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WilmerHale, ACLU of Massachusetts Obtain Release of Detained Mother

News

The Washington Post Spotlights 90-Year-Old Veteran and WilmerHale Client's Long Quest for Justice

News