Highlights of Our Pro Bono Legal Services
- Armed Forces Retirement Home
In 2010, the firm, led by Washington, DC Partner David Folds, obtained approval of a settlement of a federal class action case brought in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia seeking improved access to health care for approximately 1,000 residents of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, DC. As a result of this settlement, the residents of the Home will receive increased access to on-site medical care (including after hours care), dental care and prescription medications.
- Wrongful Eviction - Section 8 Recertification Pro Bono Project
In 2009, Partner Bikram Bandy and Associate Luke Meier won a pro bono case for a client referred by the Legal Aid Society, related to a wrongful eviction from her home. The victory resulted in full reinstatement of the client's housing benefits.
- Social Security Disability Benefits Secured
In 2009, Partner Cass Christenson and Associate Michael Alexander won a social security disability appeal for a pro bono client referred to the firm by the Whitman-Walker Clinic. The client had filed her own disability claim but was denied benefits. MLA attorneys then stepped in, and worked with the client's doctors to obtain and review her medical records and develop a theory of disability, and prepared a comprehensive letter brief that persuasively addressed the many relevant regulations and standards showing why the client should qualify for disability. A judge determined that the client was eligible for benefits and that the onset of her disability began when she filed her initial claim, entitling her to receive both past and future disability benefits.
- Temporary Child Custody Hearing
Partner Jessica Abrahams and Associate Lisa Shu represented a pro bono client in a temporary child custody case originally referred to the firm by the Children’s Law Center. MLA represented the client (the child's aunt) in an attempt to intervene in a custody suit initiated by the child’s biological father against the child’s mother. MLA filed a Motion to Intervene (and to file a Third-Party Complaint for Custody) and argued that intervention and an award of custody to the aunt was in the best interests of the child, and argued that intervention was proper under the D.C. Safe and Stable Homes for Youth Act of 2007. A judge granted the motion and granted the aunt sole legal and physical custody of the child with limited visitation rights to both parents.
- Pharmacy School’s Future Secured for Rural Kentucky by State Supreme Court
In 2009, a team of MLA attorneys comprised of Partners Jessica Abrahams, Daniel Beale and Donna Donlon and Associate Alanna Clair filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court of Kentucky (KY) on behalf of the American Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League, related to a Commonwealth grant to the University of the Cumberlands, a religiously-affiliated institution, in order to build and fund a pharmacy school. The Commonwealth defended the grant claiming the dire need in KY’s for pharmacists in rural areas was significant. The amicus brief filed supported appellees to address KY’s constitutional provision supporting separation of church and state. The KY provision is one of similar provisions found in other state constitutions known as Blaine Amendments, and MLA attorneys successfully argued that the amendments are constitutional under any federal standard, and that the Commonwealth's program violates the KY constitution. The arguments put forth by the MLA team were adopted in full by the KY Supreme Court in April of 2010.
- Journey Forward
In 2009, MLA New York represented Boston-based JoFo on its non-local issues, like IRS and other tax issues, including its corporate formation, acquisition of nonprofit tax status, its fundraising efforts, various legal disputes and general business advice. JoFo is a special facility, one of only a handful in the country, that provides specific rehabilitation services for people that have suffered catastrophic spinal injuries.
- Atlanta University Center Consortium and University Community Development Corporation
In January 2009, Atlanta Associates Jonathan Hunt and Kathleen Lentz assisted the Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUCC) and the University Community Development Corporation in separate real estate and litigation matters. The AUCC is a nonprofit consortium of Atlanta’s historically black colleges and universities that provides services and programs to its member institutions.
- Pete Williams Wrongful Imprisonment
In 2008, the Georgia State Senate passed HR 178 (previously passed by the House), which will award Pete Williams $1.2 million for wages and other potential benefits lost during the almost 22 years he spent in prison for a crime he did not commit. As documented by the firm in February 2007, MLA assisted in Pete’s release through its pro bono efforts with the Georgia Innocence Project.
- Bangladeshi Man Wrongly Sentenced to Death
In 2008, an MLA pro bono team assisted a former Bangladeshi diplomat who fled his country in 1996 to avoid prosecution and sought political asylum in the U.S. Attorneys in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Washington, DC continue to endeavor to secure his release from prison and removal from Canada.
- U.S. Supreme Court Amicus Curiae Brief
Washington, DC attorneys filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of pro bono clients Violence Policy Center and the Police Chiefs for the cities of Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Seattle. The brief supported the District of Columbia’s challenge to a recent DC Circuit – Court of Appeals’ ruling that invoked the Second Amendment to strike down several gun control laws, specifically DC’s handgun law. (See District of Columbia v. Heller).
- Washington Pro Bono Criminal Project
In 2008, Washington, DC Associate Brad Samuels played a critical roles in the creation and success of this project. With the assistance of Partner Will O’Brien and Associate Megan Kinsey-Smith. A sample of victories include: U.S. v. Bryant Washington and U.S. v. Charles Payne.
- Hope for Hannah's Fund
Of Counsel Kelly Lamendola hosted Hannah's Hope Fund's first board meeting in the Albany office to assist the organizing of a corporation. She prepared the detailed application to the IRS to recognize the Fund as a 501(c) (3) or not-for-profit organization.
- The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA)
MLA negotiated a new lease for The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA), increasing its space from 4,500 square feet to 15,000 square feet. Founded in 2002, MOCA GA is the only museum with a permanent collection exclusively devoted to Georgia artists. The new space will accommodate ongoing displays of the permanent collection, as well as temporary shows. It will also house an educational resource center, which will be the only existing entity devoted to the study and documentation of Georgia art history. The museum will also permit public access to its archives and growing library.
Recent Pro Bono Participation
“When MLA presented an opportunity to me to participate in a pro bono First Amendment case heard before the Kentucky Supreme Court, I knew it was a great way for me to make a positive impact. We drafted a brief that was well-received by our clients and illuminated some complex issues for the Court. MLA completely supports all attorney and staff pro bono activities, and supplies the necessary resources and man power needed to provide the utmost support to our clients.”
Washington, DC Office
"MLA's pro bono policy demonstrates the firm's commitment to serve the needs of those less advantaged members of the community. This commitment encourages my continued efforts to help ensure that, in the words of Justice Lewis Powell, Jr., "Equal justice under the law is not just a caption on the façade of the Supreme Court building," through my work with The Alliance for Children's Rights and with the Los Angeles office's pro bono committee."
Real Estate and Finance Associate
Los Angeles Office
"I hadn't had a lot of opportunities to do pro bono work before coming to McKenna. With the firm's strong support, my team and I had the opportunity to represent a nonprofit organization on the acquisition and financing of a number of transitional housing facilities in the Atlanta
Real Estate and Finance Partner