We recognize that we have a duty to ensure that the doors of justice are open to all, regardless of economic status. According to an American Bar Association study, at least 40 percent of low and moderate-income households experience a legal problem each year. Yet the collective civil legal aid effort is meeting only about 20 percent of the legal needs of low-income people.
As one of the founding members of the Washington D.C.-based Pro Bono Institute
, we have created several programs for the indigent and poor. One of those is the Neighborhood Justice Center (NJC), which provides legal services to inner-city residents in St. Louis. With City of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer M. Joyce, we developed an innovative program which provides pro bono legal services and at the same time gives young lawyers hands-on trial experience.
Much of our pro bono activity involves the protection of women and children. Firm lawyers provide legal services to Legal Advocates for Abused Women
(LAAW), a domestic violence support agency which issues free orders of protection and provides other services to victims of domestic violence. In 2007, LAAW presented us its Legal Champion Award, which recognizes members of the legal profession who promote social justice and equal access to services for victims of abuse. Other agencies we partner with include: Legal Services of Eastern Missouri
, Land of Lincoln Legal Services
, and Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts
We’ve been in the news for our precedent-setting pro bono work. Of note was our involvement in the U.S. Government’s decision to dissolve the “Widow Penalty,"
resulting in our client, a native of Thailand, being able to remain in the U.S. after the death of her husband. We also assisted a Nicaraguan refugee who lost her daughter in an international child abduction case. Most recently, Amy Lorenz-Moser helped two abused women win parole after three decades of imprisonment
Not all of our pro bono work involves litigation. Our lawyers have guided more than 25 nonprofit organizations in becoming operational, including one that is redeveloping a blighted area in the City of St. Louis. We represented a daycare focused on children with special needs, an organization providing job skills to disadvantaged women, and have participated in the “Ask a Lawyer” program sponsored by the Clark County Bar Association.
Heading our pro bono efforts are Partners Patrick Kenny
(litigation) and Scott Hunt
As a member of Lex Mundi, we participate in the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation
, providing assistance to social entrepreneurs, including regulatory assistance, intellectual property and tax guidance.