Friday, June 28, 2013

Pro Bono Matters


In the extremely busy world of practicing law, it is easy (and less-time consuming) to write a check to fulfill our pro bono obligations each year.  While supporting Access to Justice and other very worthwhile organizations is important, it is extremely rewarding to commit the time and energy necessary to represent a pro bono client.  No matter what your specialty, opportunities to apply your unique skill set to pro bono matters are abundant.

Dickinson Wright has a rich and storied history of assisting pro bono clients on a variety of matters.  Last year alone, at least fifty Dickinson Wright lawyers (including partners and associates alike) committed over 35 hours to pro bono matters.  While these matters varied widely in subject matter, they all resulted in significant benefits to the pro bono clients, which included both non-profit organizations and indigent clients.

Dickinson Wright has acted as pro bono outside counsel to many non-profit organizations, including negotiating and securing leases, handling a variety of employment-related matters, securing copyright assignments and advising clients on their tax-exempt status.  Recently, I had the privilege of representing a non-profit organization in the leasing of its new headquarters.  While my representation of this pro bono client required significant time and effort, I was fortunate to have played a part in the client’s relocation to better-suited space, which helped to facilitate this client’s provision of invaluable services to our local community. 

Christy McDonald of Dickinson Wright recently represented a Detroit-based non-profit organization that serves the homeless community. This important organization hires homeless women from local shelters to be full time seamstresses to sew coats that transform into sleeping bags for homeless people. She also assisted this non-profit client in handling start-up employment law issues, including retention and unemployment issues and claims. 

Following a house fire, another pro bono client hired a contractor, who not only failed to perform quality work, but also intentionally damaged the client’s property when she terminated his services.  Salina Hamilton of Dickinson Wright filed a Complaint on behalf of this client against four defendants, including the contractor and sub-contracting companies, to recover losses sustained as a result of the improper repairs and the intentional damage. Salina successfully obtained a judgment against all defendants. 

Dan Quick, Brandon Hubbard, Jerome Crawford and Samantha Murray of Dickinson Wright were recently mentioned in an article posted on Dearborn Press and Guide, which highlighted their successful pro bono representation of an individual pro bono client who was sued in federal court for defamation and tortious interference by reason of his efforts to prevent carnivals from operating certain games, which he considered to be rigged. The application of their legal skills to this matter was greatly appreciated by the client.

The fine work of the attorneys mentioned above represents just a few examples of the excellent pro bono work being handled by Dickinson Wright and many other firms in the Detroit metropolitan area.  The next time you are presented with the opportunity to accept the pro bono representation of a client, I urge you to accept the challenge.  The intrinsic rewards of assisting the amazing non-profit organizations serving our community, as well as individuals, who could not otherwise afford legal representation, far exceed the time and effort you will devote to these worthwhile clients.