Steptoe & Johnson has hired Dechert’s pro bono counsel, Paul Lee, to succeed Barbara Kagan, who’s retiring after 25 years as head of the firm’s pro bono program, Steptoe announced Nov. 29.
The firm hopes to expand and modernize its pro bono program under Lee’s leadership, Jim Rocap, chair of Steptoe’s Public Service Committee, said in a statement.
Steptoe lawyers recorded more than 36,000 pro bono hours in 2017, according to the firm.
Lee explained to Bloomberg Law that he hopes to further expand the reach of Steptoe’s program geographically, as pro bono becomes more global in nature, “but also with respect to our neighbors, as we continue to stand up for the voiceless and marginalized, right in our own communities.”
He also wants to use technology to train and mentor attorneys handling pro bono matters.
Lee hopes to engage law firm attorneys to do more and better pro bono work, a task that “is equal parts science and art,” he said.
He’ll have a deputy pro bono counsel—who’ll be starting at Steptoe in a few weeks— to help him with the task, and will work with Kagan “through at least the end of the year” to help with the transition.
Lee ran a pro bono program at Dechert that operated across international borders and benefited groups including immigrants, the homeless, and veterans.
Before joining Dechert, Lee served as the pro bono coordinator for Kids in Need of Defense, a national organization providing pro bono representation to unaccompanied immigrant children. He serves as secretary of the DC Bar board of governors and is also a board member of the DC Bar Pro Bono Center.
Steptoe has more than 500 lawyers and other professional staff across offices in Beijing, Brussels, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Washington.
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