October 15, 2018

Firm recognizes its attorneys’ mission-critical work during Pro Bono Week

As the 10th annual National Celebration of Pro Bono kicks off next week, Oct. 21-27, Am Law 100 firm Polsinelli acknowledges a successful year of providing pro bono legal services to communities, organizations and individuals across the country.

Throughout its 2018 fiscal year, which concludes Oct. 31, Polsinelli attorneys and paralegals recorded 27,400 hours of pro bono work. More than 410 attorneys, representing all of Polsinelli’s 21 offices across the country, contributed pro bono services this year. As a result, more than 700 individuals and organizations coast to coast benefitted from Polsinelli’s pro bono work in 2018.

“Our firm believes in doing the right thing, and our culture embraces providing pro bono services to those in need,” said Director of Polsinelli’s Pro Bono Services Michelle Clardy Dobbs. “Polsinelli has a rich history of voluntarily providing legal services to individuals and nonprofit organizations that cannot afford representation. We believe it is our obligation to help ensure the people and organizations in our communities are able to secure and preserve their legal rights, particularly for those who do not have the financial means to do so for themselves.”

Polsinelli celebrates many pro bono accomplishments in 2018, including a few high-impact projects which have been highly-publicized: 

  • In March 2018, Polsinelli partnered with chemistry professor Syed Jamal’s immigration counsel to secure the release of the father of three from a detention facility and then obtain permanent resident status. Jamal’s arrest, as he was taking his young daughter to school, captured attention from national and local media outlets across the country. Polsinelli deployed its top litigators and public policy attorneys to work on his release. The threat of deportation is no longer imminent after the Board of Immigration Appeals agreed this August that Jamal should be given an opportunity to present his deportation case to an immigration judge. 
  • In April 2018, all Missouri prisons were ordered to be entirely smoke-free because of the pro bono legal efforts by Polsinelli Associate Phillip Zeeck. In 2017, Zeeck co-represented plaintiff Ecclesiastical Washington with former Polsinelli Shareholder Michael Foster in a trial claiming that various Missouri prison officials were deliberately indifferent to Washington’s serious health needs and failed to take reasonable measures to keep him free from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke. Zeeck and Foster spent hundreds of hours preparing for and representing Washington at trial. Their dedicated pro bono commitment won Washington $40,000 in damages and a complete smoking ban for correctional facilities in the entire state. The attorneys were recognized for their deserving work on the case by the Missouri Bar Foundation, receiving the Pro Bono Publico Award last month.
  • Polsinelli has partnered with Legal Aid of Western Missouri to provide pro bono services for the Adopt-A-Neighborhood Project since its inception in 2015. In doing so, the firm has consistently demonstrated its long-term commitment to economic development and empowerment for progress in low-income, distressed neighborhoods within Kansas City’s urban core. As part of that effort, more than 20 Polsinelli attorneys, led by Shareholder Brendan McPherson, worked with the Key Coalition neighborhood association to obtain title to vacant properties and buildings for rehabilitation and redevelopment. They also assisted the non-profit Nile Valley Aquaponics obtain non-profit status, as well as a patent for its processes, and secured a lease for the organization to have a teaching center.
  • Litigation Associates Cecelia Carroll and Britton St. Onge provided pro bono legal services for the Missouri Coalition of the Right to Counsel as part of a statewide public-private partnership between the public defender’s office and private law firms. The work of the private bar, including many Polsinelli attorneys, is meant to assist in alleviating the backlogged public-defender system which has been highly-scrutinized. Both attorneys were recognized for their pro bono efforts, being named “Up and Coming” attorneys in 2018 by Missouri Lawyers Weekly

The firm itself was recognized in June for its pro bono efforts, receiving the Law Firm of the Year Award from Legal Aid of Western Missouri, which provides free civil legal assistance to those who cannot afford to pay for counsel. Polsinelli attorneys have also earned several notable awards for their individual pro bono work this year, including: 

  • 2018 Legal Champions Award (Missouri Lawyers Weekly) – Phillip Zeeck
  • Women’s Justice Awards Pro Bono Award (Missouri Lawyers Weekly) – Tara Nealey
  • Top 50 Pro Bono Attorneys in Arizona (Arizona Foundation for Legal Services Education) –Melissa Ho and Maria Fernanda Hubbard
  • 2018 Pro Bono Publico Award (Missouri Bar Foundation) – Phillip Zeeck
  • 2018 Up and Coming attorneys for Pro Bono (Missouri Lawyers Weekly) – Cecelia Carroll and Britton St. Onge 

“Pro Bono Week is an important time for our firm to humbly reflect upon the impact our team has made in support of deserving organizations and individuals,” said Polsinelli Chairman Russ Welsh. “Pro bono service is just as important to our firm as the work we do for our paying clients. We believe in supporting worthy causes and encourage our attorneys to use their legal skills to support civic and community efforts when those opportunities arise.” 

To further strengthen its Pro Bono Services Program, Polsinelli has established five national cause committees addressing pressing pro bono legal needs where the firm will focus its services: 1) civil rights, 2) immigration/asylum, 3) housing/urban revitalization & economic development, 4) corporate governance and non-profits, and 5) families, children and veterans. Also this year, Polsinelli identified 15 pro bono liaisons in its offices across the country to lead local pro bono efforts in conjunction with the Director of Pro Bono Services. 

About Polsinelli

Polsinelli is an Am Law 100 firm with more than 825 attorneys in 21 cities coast to coast. Ranked #24 for Client Service Excellence1 and #10 for best client relationships2 among 650 U.S. law firms, Polsinelli is also named among the top 30 best-known firms in the nation3 for the second consecutive year. The firm’s attorneys provide value through practical legal counsel infused with business insight, and focus on health care, financial services, real estate, intellectual property, mid-market corporate, labor and employment, and business litigation. | Polsinelli PC | In California, Polsinelli LLP

12018 BTI Client Service A-Team Report

22017 BTI Industry Power Rankings

32018 BTI Brand Elite