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Introducing Our 2022 Pro Bono Innovators

Nov. 2, 2022, 9:00 AM

“Serving is the rent that everybody pays for living. And those with extra intellectual and material gifts have an obligation, and a responsibility, and a privilege of reaching back and helping others,” said Marian Wright Edelman, lawyer and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund in a May 1992 PBS interview.

In that same spirit, in our inaugural Pro Bono Innovators special report, we highlight a selection of legal leaders who embody that philosophy in their pro bono work for the underserved.

Our journey to launch began a year ago when we cast our sails, seeking nominations from across the legal profession. After receiving a robust response, our team of editors closely evaluated the nominations, starting with the innovative approaches to pro bono client service. Did they use creative ways to get around barriers for their clients? Did they come up with unique solutions to tackle complex legal matters? Did their analytical prowess help them solve problems others either hadn’t identified or were unable to tackle? Our team also considered the pro bono success history of the nominee, and the breadth and impact of their matters.

Ultimately, we selected 14 law firms and one non-profit organization as our inaugural honorees. Their work spans a panoply of issues faced across the country and the globe.

For example, Skadden took on Caniglia v. Strom, a US Supreme Court case involving the community care taking exception to the warrant requirement for searches. The firm prevailed on behalf of client Edward Caniglia when the high court rendered a unanimous ruling, holding that the exception does not apply to the home.

Hunton Andrews Kurth scored a victory for Army combat veteran Jim Rudisill in Rudisill v. McDonough, a US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit win that affirmed a lower court’s ruling holding that veterans with separately qualifying periods of military service are entitled to G.I. Bill benefits for each period of service. The decision could restore billions of dollars in post-9/11 educational benefits for up to 1.7 million veterans.

Latham & Watkins served as outside pro bono counsel to the panel investigating the police-related death of Elijah McClain, a young, unarmed Black man in Aurora, Colorado. The firm handled much of the factual investigation and drafting of the panel’s final 157-page report, identifying no constitutional basis for the stop or the applied “cartoid hold.”

And the MacArthur Justice Center’s team won cases before the Supreme Court—McCoy v. Alamu—and the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit—Ashaheed v. Currington—that each clarified the doctrine of qualified immunity.

Congratulations to all of our inaugural honorees. Read more about the innovative ways in which they approached their work below.

Akin Gump

Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer

Debevoise & Plimpton

Hunton Andrews Kurth

Jenner & Block

Kaplan Hecker & Fink

Latham & Watkins

MacArthur Justice Center

Mayer Brown

Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom

White & Case

Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

We know the work of “doing well by doing good” continues. Circle back with us early next month to learn more on how your law firm or organization can be considered for our next group of Pro Bono Innovators in 2023.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lisa Helem at