A steadfast commitment to pro bono representation has been a hallmark of the firm since the early 20th century, when Partner Reginald Heber Smith—considered the father of legal aid in the United States—authored the seminal book Justice and the Poor and galvanized the organized bar nationally to secure equal justice for those unable to afford counsel. More than seven decades later, in 1992, Partner John Pickering led the effort to establish the Pro Bono Institute's Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge and ensured that WilmerHale was its charter signatory. Today, as measured by The American Lawyer and other leading publications, WilmerHale's pro bono program ranks as one of the top in the country.
Our lawyers have been involved in many of the influential legal cases and social developments that have shaped the nation. In 1954, Partner Joseph Welch, assisted by lawyers James St. Clair and Jack Kimball, represented the US Army on a pro bono basis in the nationally televised Army-McCarthy hearings. In 1963, Partner Lloyd Cutler served as a leading force in creating the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, at the behest of President John F. Kennedy.
The firm's pro bono efforts have also influenced historic developments around the world. Through the Southern Africa Legal Support and Education Project, WilmerHale joined with others to fight apartheid and establish the rule of law in South Africa. Our lawyers also helped write the constitutions of several central European countries after the fall of the Soviet Union.
For more than a decade, our lawyers have provided pro bono legal services to indigent persons through the WilmerHale Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, a major clinical teaching facility that has assisted more than 20,000 individuals.