Pro Bono Project

Pro Bono Project

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Throughout recruiting and my early weeks at WilmerHale, I consistently heard that a commitment to pro bono work is one of the firm's guiding principles. That was important to me in choosing to summer here. While I may not be working full time on social justice causes like some of my law school classmates, I want to make sure that I spend a significant portion of my career using my degree to help those who can benefit from it.

WilmerHale does a lot of high-profile pro bono work. For example, the firm has litigated major voting rights cases and regularly files amicus briefs in cases before the Supreme Court. But WilmerHale's offices also represent individuals closer to home in cases that are less glamorous but no less consequential to those clients. This summer, I've had the opportunity to work on one of those cases.

I am working on a team representing a man who is currently incarcerated and is bringing multiple constitutional claims against the state's department of corrections. In addition to the opportunity to represent an individual who would otherwise be proceeding pro se against the state, several facets of the case have been particularly interesting to me.

First, I've gotten to see that the firm's commitment to pro bono is not a mere talking point. I've been impressed to see this team of busy attorneys with a full slate of billable matters devote the same level of time and attention to our pro bono client.

Second, the client is very engaged in his representation, regularly sending us letters containing research he's conducted in the prison law library. After reading his letters, I was glad to have the chance to travel to the prison to meet with our client. It was fascinating to sit around a table in the prison cafeteria while members of the case team clarified facts and walked him through our arguments on each of his claims. The opportunity to interact directly with an individual client was an interesting juxtaposition with some of my other matters, in which the case team communicates with a corporate client through their general counsel.

Third, I find it exciting to work on a collaborative team of attorneys who are all based in the same office. I've loved hearing the experienced attorneys on the team talk through their reasoning during strategic brainstorming sessions. It has also been an interesting introduction to the mechanics of litigation.

Finally, the matter adds variety to my case load, which consists primarily of energy and environmental work. At this point, everything I am working on is novel and exciting to me. However, I can imagine that as a more experienced lawyer, the chance to work on issues outside my practice area will be particularly appealing.