Pro Bono

Pro bono service is a core value of BakerHostetler that is ingrained in our culture. BakerHostetler was founded by partners who first served in government. They brought that commitment to community support to their legal practice. This dedication endures today, over a century later, through the firm's delivery of legal services to underserved and underrepresented communities.

We recognize the importance of applying our expertise and resources 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 as any work undertaken by the firm.

BakerHostetler encourages all lawyers to achieve the level of pro bono services established by the American Bar Association. We believe 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. Our lawyers also serve on and advise civic, social, educational, and commerce-focused boards throughout the country.

2020 Pro Bono Review

Notable pro bono matters include:
  • The firm secured a significant win in February 2021 when the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York issued summary judgment in favor of client and jazz saxophonist María Grand. The decision is one of the first to apply New York’s recently expanded anti-SLAPP statute (“strategic lawsuit against public participation”), in a defamation case involving a non-public figure. It upholds essential First Amendment rights, particularly for people who speak up about abuse and harassment. The matter was referred to BakerHostetler through the firm’s partnership with the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund of the National Women’s Law Center.

  • Represent asylum immigration applicants’ appeals to the Second, Third, and Sixth Circuits from Board of Immigration Appeals. BakerHostetler recently obtained the reversal of the BIA’s denial of asylum to a member of Honduras’ anti-corruption Liberty and Refoundation (LIBRE) who participated in several political marches in opposition to the country’s president. The man had been abducted by Honduran police, taken to an abandoned house, beaten repeatedly over the course of 12 hours and then discarded in an empty lot. Months of threats from government officers followed, including a phone call stating that, due to his political views, he and his family would be killed if he remained in Honduras. Other LIBRE Party members and march participants were murdered after receiving similar threats.
     
  • Represent the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to halt recent regulations by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that rolled back anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ patients. Senior U.S. District Judge Frederic Block ruled that HHS’ actions likely conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court's 6-3 ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, announced in June 2020, which found that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits bias against workers based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
     
  • BakerHostetler partnered with the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund and the New York Civil Liberties Union to reach a landmark settlement that resulted in a robust jail or prison placement policy that will protect the rights of transgender, gender nonconforming, nonbinary, and intersex people in custody.
     
  • Represent the National Women’s Law Center and other public interest groups in federal appellate courts in connection with Title IX issues regarding reporting of sexual harassment. For example, the Tenth Circuit agreed with the position of the National Women’s Law Center in a recent case, holding that it is sufficient for a Title IX plaintiff to allege the university’s deliberate indifference to reports of sexual harassment caused the student to be vulnerable to further harassment.
     
  • In partnership with the Veterans Consortium, a nonprofit group that represents veterans and family members before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, BakerHostetler has represented over 36 veterans’ appeals, with 65 attorneys volunteering their time. Our deep connection to veterans’ affairs spans the firm’s full history—from Newton Baker’s service as Secretary of War, through the nearly 70 veterans currently with the firm.
     
  • Represent Arkansas defendant convicted for a murder that occurred when he was 14, and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. BakerHostetler successfully obtained a habeas petition to vacate the defendant’s sentence. On the eve of the new trial, the parties agreed to a new sentence such that the defendant would be eligible for parole. In 2019, after nearly 15 years in prison, the defendant was released from prison.
     
  • 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. Subsequently, BakerHostetler brought a civil rights action on behalf of the same client against the chief county prosecutor and other public officials. The action resulted in a multi-million-dollar settlement, a letter of apology signed by three police chiefs, and, ultimately, the chief prosecutor’s ouster from office.
Firmwide Pro Bono
Committee Chairs
Seanna R. Brown
New York
sbrown@bakerlaw.com  
Karl Fanter
Cleveland
kfanter@bakerlaw.com