NALP Directory of Legal Employers

Directory Year: 2022

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP - Austin, Texas

Pro Bono/Public Interest

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Pro Bono Contact

Pro Bono Contact Name Valerie Fitch
Pro Bono Contact Title Senior Director of Talent Development
Pro Bono Contact Phone 212.858.1718
Pro Bono Contact Email [email protected]
Is the pro bono information indicated here firm-wide or specific to one office? Firm-wide
% Firm Billable Hours last year 3.1
Average Hours per Attorney last year 51.5

Pro Bono Participation

Percent of associates participating last year 83.6
Percent of partners participating last year 64.2
Percent of other lawyers participating last year 59.1

Average hours

Average hours per associate last year 96.5
Average hours per partner last year 51.9
Average hours per other lawyer last year 82.2
What percentage of attorneys performed more than 20 hours? 64.2
What was the number of actual pro bono hours contributed by the organization in the prior calendar year? 37,036
Does the organization maintain a written pro bono policy that sets forth the organization's commitment to pro bono? Yes
How does the organization define what constitutes pro bono legal work?

Pillsbury’s definition follows that of the Pro Bono Institute: (i) legal services to persons of limited means, or to organizations designed to address the needs of those persons; (ii) legal assistance to secure or protect civil rights, civil liberties or public rights; (iii) legal assistance to charitable, religious, civic and other organizations in matters in furtherance of their organizational purposes, where the payment of legal fees would deplete resources or be inappropriate. Within this definition, the Firm takes on a wide range of pro bono matters.

Does the organization set annual goals regarding the minimum number of pro bono hours to be contributed by the organization? No

Attorney pro bono goals

Does the organization set individual attorney goals regarding the minimum number of pro bono hours to be contributed? Yes
If yes, what is that annual goal? 25

Advancement/compensation

Is an attorney's commitment to pro bono activity considered a favorable factor in advancement and compensation decisions? Yes
If yes, to what extent? Pro bono work is evaluated as all other client work.

Pro bono support services

Are full-time support services (word processing, online research Lexis/Westlaw, out of pocket costs) available for pro bono representation? Yes
If so, are there any limitations?

No

Are associates provided written evaluations of their work on pro bono matters? Yes
Does the organization employ one or more of the following structures to manage its pro bono program and to provide training and guidance to participating attorneys? (Check all that apply): An attorney who coordinates pro bono projects as an ancillary duty to other work
Pro Bono Committee
Other
How is pro bono work assigned/distributed?

Members of the Firm’s Pro Bono Committee are largely responsible for staffing matters that arise from organizations in their geographic area by seeking volunteers; volunteers are solicited across all practice areas and all levels of experience. Some matters may be staffed across multiple offices based on the interests or expertise of our attorneys and the size of the matter. Attorneys are also encouraged to bring new pro bono clients to the Firm.

If an attorney is permitted to bring a pro bono case for possible consideration by the firm, who makes decisions about whether the firm will handle the matter? (check all that apply) Pro Bono Coordinator
Pro Bono Committee
Other

Enabling pro bono or public interest work

Does the organization provide any of the following to enable its attorneys to participate in pro bono activities or work in a public interest setting? (Check all that apply): Fellowships
Part-time pro bono programs
If so please describe

The Pillsbury Social Impact Fellowship allows one first-year associate to spend a year performing public interest legal work full-time with a non-profit organization mutually selected by the Fellow and Pillsbury. Under the Fellowship, the Fellow is an employee of Pillsbury, earns a stipend of $100,000 and is eligible for the Firm’s benefits programs. At the conclusion of the year, the Fellow joins Pillsbury as a second-year associate.

Summer associate pro bono opportunities

Are pro bono opportunities available for summer associates? Yes
Additional comments (Please use this space to provide any additional information about your organization's pro bono program including any special recognition or awards the organization has received for its pro bono work.)

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What are some of the areas in which your organization has performed pro bono work in the past year?

The scope and breadth of our pro bono practice incorporates a wide range of activities and efforts, reflecting the needs of the communities in which we work, as well as the interests and passions of our attorneys. In particular, Pillsbury encourages attorneys to provide legal services for disadvantaged members of our communities. Partners supervise each pro bono matter, and our attorneys participate in both in-house and external training programs designed to enhance the skills needed to serve our pro bono clients. Pillsbury participates in pro bono work in three broad categories: Indigent Clients, Civil Rights, and Community and Public Organizations. Within those three broad areas, representative areas of law in which Pillsbury has performed pro bono legal services include asylum, civil rights, First Amendment and Constitutional issues, HIV/AIDS advocacy, homeless advocacy, immigration, LGBTQ rights, nonprofit corporate law/incorporation/tax exemptions, the arts and historic preservation, and voting rights. Every attorney is expected to perform a minimum of 25 hours of pro bono legal services annually. Below are a few examples of pro bono work from the past year.

Examples of Current Pro Bono Matters:
 

Org name/Client Name: Human Rights First and Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC)

Nature of Work:  Pillsbury partnered with pro bono clients Human Rights First and Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC) on their investigations and responses into state-sponsored allegations of torture, extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances in Uganda. These abuses had been prevalent in the country for years, and dramatically increased during Uganda’s 2020-2021 presidential campaign.  Pillsbury drafted and submitted to the United States Treasury two separate petitions for sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act against known leaders and overseers of such torture and killings.  To develop these petitions, we met with survivors and political dissidents in Uganda, conducted interviews, and reviewed affidavits and video documentation of these abuses. We also prepared the TASSC executive director for meetings with Treasury and State Department officials, and helped craft their ongoing advocacy campaigns to bring awareness to these issues. In April 2021, Secretary of State Blinken announced that the United States would be levying visa restrictions on a number of Ugandans who were found to be responsible for, or complicit in, the violence and intimidation campaigns surrounding the January 2021 election. In his announcement, Secretary Blinken specifically highlighted the primary issues raised in our petitions, including the arrest and harassment of opposition candidates, and violence against innocent bystanders by Ugandan security forces.

# of Attorneys involved/Offices:  Approximately 8 attorneys from three offices, including our London office.

   Org name/client name: Multiple (30 and counting) individual Black small business founders.

Nature of Work:  As part of Pillsbury’s commitment to help increase access and opportunity for Black-owned startups, Pillsbury formed the Black-Owned Startup Support (BOSS) Lab to address the systemic inequities that have resulted in Black founders comprising only 1 percent of venture-backed startups. As part of this effort, Pillsbury lawyers and colleagues in complementary practices provide volunteer legal and advisory services to innovative startups with high-growth potential. Our mission is to help reimagine the startup ecosystem by partnering with Black founders to support their businesses and provide access to the additional tools, knowledge and networks necessary to secure funding and position their companies for long-term success. To date, Pillsbury has accepted 30 start-ups into the program.

# of Attorneys involved/Offices:  Approximately 40 attorneys from eight offices.

  Org name/client name:  California Innocence Project (“CAIP”)

Nature of work:  The Pillsbury team oversees volunteers from nearly all our California offices. Based in San Diego and covering all of Southern California, CAIP works to identify and exonerate those who have been wrongfully convicted and promote a fairer system to prevent future injustice. Since August 2020, we have reviewed cases for over 40 California inmates professing innocence, poring over applications, court records, probation officer reports, abstracts of judgments, interviews and letters, to search for sufficient evidence to support CAIP taking on additional investigation for an exoneration case and writing memoranda of our findings and suggestions.  Pillsbury was also the title sponsor for CAIP’s 2021 Giving Thursday virtual event highlighting the powerful stories of CAIP’s exoneree clients.

# of Attorneys involved/Offices: Approximately 25 attorneys from Pillsbury’s California offices (San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Sacramento).

 Org name/client name: Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project (“MAIP”)

Nature of work:  Teams review case files of prisoners to identify potential wrongful convictions.  Since July 2020, 75 Pillsbury volunteers have worked on the cases of 27 prisoners convicted in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.  Volunteers review a prisoner’s case file, consisting of hundreds of pages of trial transcripts, filings, police records and investigative documents, to analyze whether a prisoner may be factually innocent of the crime and identify potential sources of exculpatory evidence.  Over the past year, MAIP sought the assistance of Pillsbury to get involved in conducting more investigative work on their cases.  Volunteers have been submitting state FOIA requests to police departments and prosecutor’s offices, and work as a team to analyze how the information affects a prisoner’s potential innocence claim.  Separately, Pillsbury worked with MAIP on its 20-year Retrospective Project to thoroughly review all 39 of its exoneration cases over its 20-year history to analyze cases for common themes and issues to better guide future case selection and strategy.

# of Attorneys involved/Offices:  Approximately 75 attorneys and staff from our Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., New York and Houston offices.

    Org name/client name:  National Center for Youth Law

Nature of work:  During 2021, our Washington, DC office supported a project led by Pillsbury’s  external Equal Justice Works fellow, Taylor Jones.  Each year, the firm sponsors a new two-year Pro Bono fellowship through the Equal Justice Works foundation.  Once our fellows are selected, Pillsbury looks for ways to provide meaningful pro bono work through joint projects with our Equal Justice Works fellows.  As this past year’s first-year fellow, Taylor is working with the National Center for Youth Law in Washington, D.C., pursuing a project to help Washington, D.C. students overcome barriers to their education.  This includes making sure that D.C. schools follow applicable law to ensure homeless students and school applicants have full opportunity to education and are not discriminated against.  During the Spring and early Summer 2021, we had close to 20 separate volunteers in Pillsbury’s Washington, D.C. office support Taylor’s project.  Each volunteer (including Pillsbury partners, associates, project assistants and legal secretaries) was responsible for looking at the websites of (and speaking with the administrators of) four or five separate public or charter schools in Washington, D.C. to track how those schools advertise to and work with homeless students.  Taylor provided a list of factors and data that our volunteers were to examine, and we accumulated our data points in a summary spreadsheet to help determine which DC schools are complying with laws applicable to homeless students.  Pillsbury was thrilled that we had such a large group at our firm support this project, and that we were able to support a significant project focused on improving the lives of a significant community of need.

# of Attorneys involved/Offices:  Approximately 20 attorneys from our Washington, DC office.

 

 

Fellowship sponsorship

Does your organization sponsor split public interest summer and/or post-graduate fellowships? No
Public Interest Fellowship Comments

1) The Pillsbury Social Impact Fellowship allows one first-year Pillsbury associate to spend a year performing public interest legal work full-time with a non-profit organization mutually selected by the fellow and Pillsbury. Under the Fellowship, the fellow is an employee of Pillsbury, earns a stipend of $100,000 and receives benefits. At the conclusion of the year, the fellow joins Pillsbury as second-year associate.

2) Since 1993, Pillsbury has sponsored Fellows through Equal Justice Works, which supports creative public service projects through an application process by recent law school graduates that draws proposals for community-based projects proximate to our offices in California, New York, Texas, Washington, D.C. and Virginia. Past Equal Justice Works fellows sponsored by Pillsbury have advocated for the rights of the developmentally disabled, immigrant workers, military service members and veterans, and many other under-served groups.