WilmerHale was honored with the Law Firm of the Year recognition at The American Lawyer Industry Awards on Thursday evening. The award, given annually to one law firm, recognizes a firm that has had an exceptional year across its service offerings, including wins on behalf of clients, and has shown a commitment to and progress in an area not related solely to its practice, such as pro bono, diversity or innovation in how legal services are delivered.
The firm was recognized for its work on behalf of clients in high-stakes matters. WilmerHale represents Harvard University in the high-profile challenge to the use of race in its undergraduate admissions process, achieving a victory on all counts in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts in October 2019, a decision that has since been upheld by the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The firm also achieved a meaningful victory for immigrant and refugee communities across the country in its representation of the city of Chicago in its court fight against the Trump administration when millions of dollars in grants were at risk. Earlier this year, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the policy threatening to deny grant money violated separation-of-powers enshrined in the US Constitution.
In February, the firm was quick to launch a Coronavirus Task Force consisting of lawyers in multiple key disciplines. Drawing on deep government and private-sector experience, the firm has worked to develop and execute plans for clients facing challenging and new issues brought by the pandemic. The task force is led by WilmerHale Partner Alejandro Mayorkas, who was recently nominated by President-elect Joe Biden to lead the Department of Homeland Security.
The firm has also continued with its steadfast commitment to pro bono representation and public service. Some of the firm’s successes include working with the ACLU to successfully convince the US government to release a non-citizen who had been detained by ICE for more than three months, separating her from her US citizen husband and 10-year-old son, securing a favorable settlement for a victim in the first civil sex trafficking cases filed against a motel under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, and achieving a victory for artist Matt Furie, creator of Pepe the Frog, in a copyright infringement suit against “alt-right” media outlet Infowars.
At The American Lawyer Industry Awards, WilmerHale Partner Robert S. Mueller III was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement award. This marks the third year in a row that an individual at WilmerHale was honored with this award, Jamie Gorelick was recognized in 2018 and Bill Lee was honored in 2019. The firm was also named a winner in the Best Use of Technology category in recognition of the firm’s work to create an almost fully automated workflow to respond to client audit letters. Many of the firm’s successes in the last year, including its Law Firm of the Year and Best Use of Technology awards, are captured in a recent featured profile by The American Lawyer.