Chief Justice Ronald George praised a roomful of do-gooding lawyers late yesterday for tackling “the challenge of the unrepresented litigants in our civil justice system.” The event marked Bay Area firms’ signing, or re-signing, of a pledge to commit resources to pro bono services. Among other things (.pdf), the signing firms agree to try to annually devote the equivalent of 3 percent to 5 percent of their billable hours to pro bono work.
The chief justice, left, and chief judge, center, shook a lot of hands Thursday, with firm representatives like Baker & McKenzie of counsel Howard Fine.
See what other firms are on the hook to do good, after the jump ...
George also lauded the governor’s signing AB 590 over the weekend, a law that creates a pilot program that provides legal services to poor litigants in civil cases. “There is no other state that has done that to my knowledge,” George said, adding that he had lobbied the governor on the idea that the bill would be “a wonderful legacy to leave.”
After George praised the lawyers in the room for their commitment to pro bono work, Northern District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker said he had a very different purpose for showing up: “The reason I’m here is to see if those photographers can get better pictures than the ones they run in the papers,” he joked.
Walker said crucial pro bono projects wouldn’t be possible without “lawyers such as yourselves,” then he and George shook hands with lawyers from most of these firms:
- Baker & McKenzie
- Bingham McCutchen
- Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass
- Cooley Goodward Kronish
- DLA Piper
- Farella Braun & Martel
- Fenwick & West
- Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
- Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin
- Keker & Van Nest
- Kirkland & Ellis
- Latham & Watkins – “They always send a big team,” Walker joked, when three Latham attorneys came forward to shake his hand.
- Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein
- Manatt, Phelps & Phillips
- Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
- Morrison & Foerster
- Munger, Tolles & Olson
- O’Melveny & Myers
- Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe
- Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker
- Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
- Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis
- Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal
- Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
- Winston & Strawn
Tiela Chalmers, executive director of the bar association’s Volunteer Legal Services Program, said since the pledge started 10 years ago, lawyers have responded to the needs in their communities “despite the financial storms that we have to admit have buffeted” firms.
— Kate Moser