Publications & News

WilmerHale Celebrates 20 Years of Strategic Philanthropy

October 25, 2017

This year marks an important milestone in WilmerHale's history, with the anniversary of the firm's adoption of a distinctive philanthropy model that has guided the firm's community service efforts for 20 years.

The firm's innovative community service approach was born in 1997, when a task force convened to assess the firm's large volume of ad hoc charitable giving and volunteer work and devise a strategy to maximize the impact of our contributions. “By focusing our financial and volunteer support on a select group of organizations over renewable two-year terms, our goal was to help these community partners scale and grow their services,” says Senior Counsel Jack Regan, one of the lawyers who spearheaded the firm's strategic philanthropy model.

Twenty years on, the firm is proud to support eight community partners across the United States, and to have developed multifaceted relationships with each organization that perpetuate the firm's vibrant culture of volunteerism and commitment to community. Since 2005, Public Service Manager Anne Bowie has served as administrator and day-to-day leader of a program that sees more than 600 attorneys and staff across our US offices participate in tutoring, mentoring, mock trials, college application and career workshops, food and clothing drives, and many other volunteer activities each year. In addition, initiatives involving community partners—such as the Boston Summer Leadership Institute—bring at least 250 students to WilmerHale's US offices each year to participate in tutoring, internships and other career development activities.

The community partnerships have also generated significant opportunities for pro bono representation across multiple disciplines, with more than 500 lawyers contributing to 80 matters that have helped these organizations make a profound difference in the lives of the clients they serve.

Many of the firm's nonprofit relationships have focused on improving the educational and career opportunities available to urban youth. These include partnerships with Cathedral High School, Citizen Schools, Dayton Early College Academy, Discovering Justice, Hyde Square Task ForceMaya Angelou Schools, and former partners Building Educated Leaders for Life, Jump Start for Kids, Junior Achievement of the National Capital Area and Teen Empowerment. Partnerships with Bread for the City, Sanctuary for Families, and former partners Homefull and Kettering Backpack have provided the opportunity to help people facing hunger, homelessness, domestic violence and human trafficking.

Success stories from our community partners highlight the effects of WilmerHale's support:

  • Bread for the City opened a new, modern building offering dental care for low-income clients.
  • Citizen Schools, originally incorporated with the help of our lawyers, has grown to become a national organization, widely acclaimed for its innovative afterschool programs.
  • Sanctuary For Families has expanded its Economic Empowerment Program to serve hundreds of women leaving domestic violence for economic independence.
  • Cathedral High School built a gym for its students with the help of the firm's financial contributions and the advice of our real estate lawyers.