Debevoise lawyers have been dedicated to public service since our firm was founded in 1931. Pro bono legal service is a fundamental part of who we are, and we also know how important it is to those we assist. Says Michael Blair, Debevoise’s presiding partner, “A strong commitment to pro bono work is a longstanding tradition at Debevoise and is deeply rooted in our firm culture. Our lawyers and staff pride themselves on providing the highest quality legal services to all of our clients, billable and non-billable alike. Pro bono work at Debevoise not only satisfies our ethical obligation to help those in need, but is part of what makes our lawyers strong leaders in our practices and in our communities.”
Summer associates participate in a wide variety of pro bono projects. Summer pro bono opportunities include corporate drafting on behalf of not-for-profit organizations, stand-up experience involving family law and disability matters, and research and writing on a vast array of international human rights issues.
Our commitment to pro bono legal service is deep and longstanding, and we take on a large number of pro bono matters each year. Our consistent high ranking among the top law firms for pro bono work means that others have taken note. Debevoise has ranked consistently among the top firms in The American Lawyer’s annual pro bono survey and The American Lawyer’s “A-List,” which is based in part on our commitment to pro bono legal service. This year Debevoise placed No. 1 overall in The American Lawyer’s “10-Year A-List,” a ranking of the law firms who have earned the highest cumulative score on the A-List since its inception in 2003.
Debevoise is a charter signatory to the Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge™, agreeing to commit at least 5% of our annual billed time to pro bono matters, as well as the New York City Bar Statement of Pro Bono Principles. Our pro bono work ranges from landmark international and national litigations to representing low-income individuals in the communities in which we live and practice. Debevoise lawyers obtain pro bono work from a variety of sources. In many cases, pro bono assignments are referred to Debevoise by some of the many legal service organizations with which the firm has longstanding relationships, such as The Legal Aid Society, Human Rights First, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest Inc. and LawWorks. As a part of our engagement, Debevoise is a supporting member of Pro Bono Deutschland e.V. Other pro bono projects grow out of interests that our lawyers pursue outside of the firm.
We encourage our lawyers to participate in pro bono activities early in their careers, and we support our lawyers who volunteer for pro bono work that falls outside of their particular practice areas. In all instances, our lawyers are encouraged to present proposals for pro bono engagements to the firm’s Pro Bono Committee. Once an engagement is approved, it is handled as is any matter, with the dedication of all available firm resources appropriate to the needs of the representation.