COOLEY GODWARD KRONISH TO RECEIVE STATE BAR PRESIDENT'S PRO BONO SERVICE AWARD

MEDIA CONTACT:  Diane Curtis   415-538-2028   diane.curtis@calbar.ca.gov

San Francisco, September 04, 2009 — The commitment to pro bono by Cooley Godward Kronish LLP runs deep. At no cost to the clients, Cooley attorneys have obtained relief for survivors of domestic violence and other violent crimes, provided assistance to tenants facing eviction and worked on cases ranging from Holocaust reparations to prisoner civil rights to asylum. They have fought for the rights of minorities and shepherded caregivers through the daunting guardianship process.

Cooley Godward Kronish lawyersFor their dedication and hard work, which has resulted in justice for many low-income people, the Palo Alto firm is the recipient of this year’s State Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award in the large firm category. Created in 1983, the award is presented each year in a number of categories to California attorneys and law firms credited with making significant contributions in pro bono legal services to those with little income, as well as to organizations that serve the poor.

“Now more than ever, public service-minded California lawyers are needed to bridge the ‘Justice Gap,’”says outgoing State Bar President Holly Fujie. “This year, the bar honors extraordinary attorneys who have helped to do so by giving their time, talentand passion to those who otherwise could not afford legal services. They come from different practice settings but what unites them is their commitment to championing a fair and accessible justice system.”

Attorneys at Cooley Godward Kronish LLP are encouraged to contribute at least 60 pro bono hours per year, a goal surpassed in five of the last six years. The firm has a full-time pro bono partner, Maureen Alger. Statewide, the firm’s lawyers donated nearly 30,000 pro bono hours last year.

The Palo Alto office’s contribution to those statistics is impressive — more than half the lawyers donated more than 13,000 hours of pro bono time last year, time worth millions of dollars.
 

Many of those hours were devoted to representing 73 clients through the Domestic Violence Collaborative, where low-income clients can get help with permanent restraining orders, as well as custody, visitation and support orders.

In addition, they worked on 25 cases through the Guardianship Legal Services Project, shepherding caregivers through the daunting guardianship process that includes numerous legal requirements and court appearances. Gabriela and Jorge Segura wrote that Cooley lawyers did outstanding work in their guardianship case, making “the legal process very simple and easy for us to understand . . . They have offered a great deal of help and support free of charge.”

Working with dozens of other nonprofit organizations, Cooley lawyers also handled immigration relief for survivors of domestic violence and other violent crimes, provided assistance to tenants facing eviction and gave their time on cases ranging from Holocaust reparations to prisoner civil rights to asylum. Attorneys and paralegals spent more than 7,500 hours on a trial representing a class of minority bus riders.

Several people who offered support for Cooley’s award offered particular praise for Alger. “Over the last decade, Maureen has taken a dynamic, proactive approach to the creation of pro bono projected jointly with legal services providers,” wrote Linda S. Kim, associate director of Public Interest Clearinghouse in San Francisco. “This ‘rainmaking’ on the pro bono side has resulted in long-lasting, well-established pro bono partnerships that have dramatically increased the services available for low-income and other underserved clients.”

The State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, serving the public and seeking to improve the justice system for more than 80 years. All lawyers practicing law in California must be members of the State Bar. By September 2009, membership reached 223,000.

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