Pro Bono Initiatives

BakerHostetler was founded by partners who first served in municipal government, then brought that commitment to community support into their legal practice. This dedication endures today through the firm's pro bono efforts.

We recognize the importance of applying our resources and knowledge to assist those in need. When the firm accepts a pro bono matter, we are committed to supporting that representation fully, with the same standards of professionalism, excellence, and respect that apply to the work we do for any client.

Our firm's Pro Bono Legal Services Policy encourages each lawyer to achieve the level of pro bono services established by the American Bar Association and reiterates our belief that this work is crucial to the communities in which our lawyers reside.

We also encourage participation in local communities through volunteer efforts and charitable contributions. Our lawyers and staff hold leadership positions with a wide variety of local and national nonprofit organizations. Lawyers in all of our offices serve on or advise numerous civic, social, educational, and commerce-focused boards, along with county commissions and municipalities.

A few notable pro bono matters:

  • Steven Goldberg, a partner in our New York office, has been involved with WITNESS, the international human rights organization, since its early stages when it was a project of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now called Human Rights First). Founded in 1992 by musician Peter Gabriel and the Reebok Human Rights Foundation, the group partners with human rights advocates around the world, providing video equipment and editing services so that organizations can document injustice.
    Corporate, intellectual property and tax lawyers at BakerHostetler now manage most of the legal needs of the New York City-based organization's work pro bono, including copyright licensing, partnership agreements, and negotiation of almost every type of agreement, from leases to licensing of videos.
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed a district court decision granting qualified immunity to two police officers for punching and tasing pro bono client during his arrest for suspected drug offenses. The decision, published in April 2021, is notable for affirming that the federal court takes a narrow view of qualified immunity, and that district court and other circuit caselaw can clearly establish a right to overcome qualified immunity. The decision also warned that officers should not be given one liability-free Fourth Amendment violation whenever they deploy a new type of force in a new context.

  • Dan Warren, a partner in our Cleveland office, obtained the reversal of a 12-year-old-boy’s murder conviction who had falsely confessed during a coercive interrogation. Police took the boy from his mother, placed him alone in an interrogation room, and suggested they had evidence he committed the murder when, in fact, there was no physical evidence whatsoever linking him to the crime. In a 70-page opinion, the court of appeals unanimously overturned the conviction, concluding that the confession had been coerced in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The Ohio Supreme Court rejected the state’s appeal.

    Subsequently, Dan and his team brought a civil rights action on behalf of the same client against the chief county prosecutor and other public officials. Mr. Warren defeated the prosecutor’s claim of qualified immunity by focusing on actions that fell outside her prosecutorial duties, such as instructing the police chief to arrest the boy. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals later declared that “any reasonable prosecutor . . . would have known, after listening to the tape of the confession, that it was involuntary as a matter of law.” The case resulted in a $3.7 million settlement, a letter of apology signed by three police chiefs, and, ultimately, the chief prosecutor’s ouster from office.