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Pro Bono

Carlene Borden and Vicky Williams served more than three decades in prison for murdering their husbands after suffering many years of physical, sexual, and mental abuse. The two women had been convicted at a time when domestic violence had been ignored by the courts. Borden was 65 and Williams, 55, when they finally won parole in 2010 thanks to the pro bono efforts of an Armstrong Teasdale partner.

These cases are an example of the cutting edge pro bono work being carried out by AT lawyers and our long-term commitment to helping those in need.

As one of the founding members of the Washington D.C.-based Pro Bono Institute, we have created several programs for the 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 that 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. Other agencies we partner with include: Legal Services of Eastern MissouriLand of Lincoln Legal Services, and Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts.

Representative Matters

In addition to the firm’s representation of abused women, the following are some examples of other high-profile pro bono cases:
  • The firm provided pro bono legal services to help transform Ferguson’s destroyed QuikTrip location into a job training center operated by the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis. We represented the Urban League in the transaction in which QuikTrip donated the land, cost of demolition and remediation of the site.
  • We filed an amicus brief with the Missouri Supreme Court in support of the same sex partner of a Missouri state trooper who was killed in the line of duty. The surviving partner sought spousal death benefits currently only offered by the state to heterosexual married couples.
  • We represented a native of Thailand in a widely watched case that helped convince the U.S. Congress to dissolve the “Widow Penalty," which allowed the government to deport aliens if their marriages to U.S. citizens ended within two years, even if the spouse died.
  • The firm assisted a Nicaraguan refugee who lost her daughter in an international child abduction case.
  • We filed an amicus brief in a First Amendment case before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals involving a challenge to a mandatory school policy forcing children to wear a uniform bearing a certain motto. The brief was filed on behalf of the Student Press Law Center and the parents who contested the school’s policy.
  • Since 2008, Armstrong Teasdale has provided ongoing pro bono support to the Blessing Basket Project, a nonprofit organization that works with about 2,000 weavers in seven developing countries, helping them rise out of poverty through empowered entrepreneurship. The firm created the legal structure that facilitated Blessing Basket’s creation and expansion. It has also filed dozens of trademarks on the nonprofit’s behalf as well as given counsel on employment matters and other legal issues.

Not all of our pro bono work involves litigation. Our lawyers have guided more than 25 nonprofit organizations in all facets of their organization and operation. The groups we have helped include an organization involved in the redevelopment of a blighted area of St. Louis, one organization that provides job skills to disadvantaged women, and another that provides a group home setting for homeless, pregnant girls.

The matters we handle include preparation of governing documents, liability of directors and management, membership, governance and control issues, and distribution of assets to qualified organizations on liquidation.

Our tax attorneys assist in the preparation and filing of tax exemption applications and in other tax matters involving exempt organizations and feeder organizations. The firm's Health Care and Corporate Services practice groups perform legal audits for nonprofits, reorganization studies, risk management, general contracting, and directors and officers and other related insurance matters.

Heading our pro bono efforts are Partners Patrick Kenny (litigation) and Scott Hunt (corporate).

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.