Pro Bono Reflections – 50+ Years of Public Service

"It is abundantly clear that no longer can persons or groups pursue their own career or interests unmindful of the needs in the rest of the community."
- Founding Memorandum (Sept. 8, 1969)

In 1970, Hogan Lovells (then Hogan & Hartson) was the first law firm to establish a freestanding pro bono practice. Over the past 50 years, the firm has devoted more than 2 million pro bono hours to those in need. Through this podcast series, Pro Bono Reflections – 50+ Years of Public Service, you'll hear from our lawyers, past and present, as they recount some of our more impactful moments and memorable clients from the past half-century.

Pro Bono Reflections – Episode 10: Discrimination

On April 1, 1993, 21 Secret Service agents were responsible for protecting the president during his visit to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. On their breakfast break, they visited a Denny's restaurant. And while every single officer was willing to put their lives on the line for their country and their commander-in-chief, only the white officers were served that day.

In Episode 10: Discrimination, Pro Bono Senior Counsel Jonathan Abram speaks with Walter Smith, Executive Director of DC Appleseed Center for Law & Justice, about the disturbing pattern of racial bias at this major American restaurant chain.

Walter also describes our work in defending the LGBTQ+ community in 1992 following an anti-gay voter referendum in Colorado.

Pro Bono Reflections – Episode 9: Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied

Secret Service agents are willing to take a bullet to protect the lives of government officials and their families. But despite their dedicated service, Black agents have faced a long history of discrimination within the agency, getting passed over again and again in the promotion process while watching their less qualified white colleagues advance.

In Episode 9: Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied, Des Hogan, Global Head of Litigation, Arbitration, and Employment, discusses with Erica Knievel Songer, Special Assistant to the President and Associate Counsel - Office of the White House Counsel, our lengthy legal battle to force change within the Secret Service. In 2017, the highly publicized case ended in a $24 million settlement.

Pro Bono Reflections – Episode 8: Four Walls and a Door

Second graders should be spending their time practicing subtraction and building baking soda volcanos. But our 8-year-old client – we'll call him James – instead learned how to bathe in a communal sink and take two bus lines to get from a makeshift homeless shelter to school.

In Episode 8: Four Walls and a Door, Partner Allison Holt Ryan and Senior Associate Lance Murashige describe the conditions where James, his grandmother, and other homeless families stayed during the "polar vortex" that swept through D.C. in 2014. On top of the already traumatic impact of homelessness on the child, James was sleeping on a gymnasium floor next to strangers, using a shared bathroom with men he didn't know, with no alternative but a laundromat or a bench in Union Station. With our help, James and other homeless children were provided with the safety and stability of private rooms on freezing nights.

Also in this episode, Senior Counsel Stan Brown and Chava Brandriss, a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine, discuss the 13-year legal battle to eliminate an exclusionary zoning ordinance on Long Island that intentionally and unlawfully discriminated against people of color.

Pro Bono Reflections – Episode 7: Desegregation

Despite a host of landmark court rulings and legislation aimed at dismantling institutional racism, "de facto" segregation persists across many neighborhoods, schools, and communities.

In Episode 7: Desegregation, we take a look at two major civil rights wins from the late 20th century. Pro Bono Senior Counsel Joe Hassett and Jack Keeney, General Counsel at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, describe their success on behalf of the residents of Woodland Village. The federal housing community was built during World War II for Black Navy workers and their families on the banks of the Potomac River in blue-collar southern Maryland. Woodland Village remained segregated from the surrounding, all-white town of Indian Head and, until we intervened, for decades was denied access to water, sewer, and cable.

The pair discuss a second discrimination case during that time – this one much closer to the nation's capital. The firm represented the NAACP in seeking a remedy for the failure of Prince George's County schools to truly desegregate, as it had been ordered to do in 1972.

Pro Bono Reflections – Episode 6: Economic Justice

In the United States, the gap between rich and poor is the largest it's been in decades. Systemic issues within our institutions and legal systems serve to exacerbate conditions that make it nearly impossible to bridge that gap. In Episode 6: Economic Justice, we take a look at three early cases from our Community Services Department.

The Honorable David Tatel and Allen Snyder, special counsel at the Children's Law Center, join us to discuss a business boycott in Mississippi, which prompted an antitrust lawsuit that threatened the very existence of our client, the NAACP.

In the second segment of the episode, Mr. Snyder and The Honorable John Ferren recall the critical role we played in preserving the federal Community Action Program – a centerpiece of President Johnson's War on Poverty to empower local residents to address pressing needs in their own communities.

Finally, Judges Ferren and Tatel remember undertaking the formidable task of getting the Legal Services Corporation up and running from scratch in just 90 days. Decades later, LSC remains a vital source of funding for nonprofit legal aid programs across the country.

Pro Bono Reflections – Episode 5: Facing Execution

All of our pro bono cases can have a significant and lasting impact on the lives of our clients. But when we represent someone who has been sentenced to death, the stakes couldn't be higher. In Episode 5: Facing Execution, Senior Counsel Pat Brannan and Senior Associate Liz Lockwood discuss their experiences in representing two death row prisoners: John Ferguson and TaiChin Preyor.

Mr. Ferguson, who was executed in 2013, suffered from severe mental illness. His last words from the death chamber were, "I am the Prince of God and I will rise again." He had no rational understanding that his execution would end his life.

Despite inadequate legal representation prior to our involvement, Mr. Preyor was executed in 2017. Among other shortcomings, his lawyers had failed to present mitigating evidence of a traumatic childhood marked by physical and sexual abuse, and had used Wikipedia to conduct "legal research."

Pro Bono Reflections – Episode 4: A False Confession

In 1997, a young Navy wife was raped and murdered in Norfolk, Virginia, and four sailors were pinned for the crime. The "Norfolk Four," as they were later known, were arrested and subjected to hours of aggressive, threatening, and coercive interrogation at the hands of Detective Robert Glenn Ford.

In Episode 4: A False Confession, Derek Tice speaks with his pro bono lawyer, now Magistrate Judge Deborah Boardman, about the fallout from those interrogations. Tice and his fellow seamen each confessed to the crime, despite the fact that all four were innocent. We began representing Mr. Tice after he was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Today, Mr. Tice is once again a free man.

Pro Bono Reflections – Episode 3: Criminal Justice

The Sixth Amendment guarantees criminal defendants the assistance of counsel. Those who can't afford to hire a lawyer are assigned one – usually, a public defender.

In Episode 3: Criminal Justice, Miami-Dade Public Defender Carlos Martinez and Hogan Lovells Partner Al Lindsay discuss their successful challenge to a criminal justice system that, due to crushing caseloads, made it impossible for the Public Defender's office to fairly represent the accused.

Our lawyers continue to seek justice beyond a criminal defendant's day in court. We advocate for the fair and humane treatment of the incarcerated. Hogan Lovells Senior Associates Katie Ali and David Maxwell describe the abhorrent conditions for death-sentenced prisoners in the Commonwealth of Virginia prior to our intervention and talk about the use of automatic and permanent solitary confinement within the context of the Eighth Amendment.

Pro Bono Reflections – Episode 2: Tulia

On a single day in 1999, nearly 10 percent of the Black population in Tulia, Texas, was arrested in a drug sweep. The raids were based on the word of a single white undercover officer with a checkered past.

In Episode 2: Tulia, Cate Stetson explores what happened that day and the fallout that ensued over many years. Two lawyers on the frontlines of that battle, Des Hogan (Head of our Litigation, Arbitration, and Employment practice) and Mitch Zamoff (Litigation Program Director and professor at University of Minnesota Law School) retell their first-hand experience bringing justice to those wrongfully imprisoned.

Pro Bono Reflections – Episode 1: Origin Story

In this episode, Cate Stetson (Board member and Co-lead of the Appellate practice) speaks with Bob Kapp (Pro Bono Senior Counsel) and Sara Ann "Sally" Determan (first female Partner) about the origins of the firm’s Community Services Department. Cate also delves into our first case on behalf of the Black Panther Party with The Honorable John Ferren (Senior Judge, District of Columbia Court of Appeals) and The Honorable Curtis Von Kann (Arbitrator and Mediator, Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services).

Video: A look back celebrating 50 Years of Pro Bono at Hogan Lovells

Video: One of the impacts of Pro Bono work at Hogan Lovells

Back To Listing