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Perkins Coie – Paying it Forward

Mon, 10/24/2016 - 14:33 -- admin25

Staff Report


Steve Smith, Dallas Office Managing Partner

As a national law firm with over 1,000 attorneys, Perkins Coie believes that it is incumbent upon it to provide top-quality legal service on a pro bono basis to those who need it most. In fact, in 2015 alone, Perkins Coie attorneys and legal staff stepped up to do just that, providing roughly 63,000 pro bono hours. The firm’s clients range from children seeking lawful immigration status to seniors trying to ensure that what little they have left is given to their families, from active-duty military personnel and veterans who served in combat to those working to preserve the heroic efforts of a deceased hero, from nonprofit organizations struggling to protect their intellectual property to micro entrepreneurs forging ahead to create a new business and future out of poverty, and many others in between. Ensuring access to justice for underserved and disadvantaged individuals and communities is at the core of Perkins Coie’s pro bono program.

And it is because of this deep commitment to pro bono and service to the communities in which we work that the Dallas office of Perkins Coie wanted to participate in this year’s annual Access to Justice Campaign benefitting the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program (DVAP) in a meaningful way.

“By donating to DVAP, we are able to help spread the availability of free legal services to countless residents that are in desperate need of legal services,” said Steve Smith, Dallas Office Managing Partner. “DVAP gets this accomplished by being on the front lines, with programs such as its successful neighborhood legal clinics.”

Since the office opened in 2010, Perkins Coie attorneys in Dallas have volunteered their time and efforts on behalf of DVAP, as well as Catholic Charities, Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, Turtle Creek Recovery Center, and Vogel Alcove, among others, and believe that their efforts on behalf of their pro bono clients have helped make a difference in our community for the better. Dallas attorneys have also participated in larger systemic litigation pro bono projects across the firm on behalf of the indigent and involving civil rights matters. In two impact cases, one of which challenged unconstitutional practices in Arizona’s prison system and another which challenged the inadequate reimbursement of foster care families in Washington, Perkins Coie received awards of attorneys’ fees. The firm uses portions of the fees recovered in pro bono cases to fund other public service initiatives. Funds not donated to nonprofit organizations are funneled back into the firm’s pro bono program and other public service initiatives and expenditures. Many of these funds have already been dedicated to be used for programs or gifts that would have a significant and long-lasting impact on the individuals or groups being served. Perkins Coie is proud of the incredible devotion of our attorneys and staff. Through our pro bono legal work and other public and community service efforts, we continue to change lives and transform our communities.

The attorneys in the Dallas office of Perkins Coie were committed to pledge a portion of these funds to support the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program with a gift of $30,000, which will help DVAP continue the important work that it is known for—helping to ensure that the poor have access to our justice system, the support of legal counsel, and equality before the law.

“One of the most attractive aspects of the Perkins Coie culture is the willingness of its attorneys to take on tough cases and to step up to serve those who truly need our services but cannot afford them,” said Mr. Smith.

Shortly after joining the firm, Mr. Smith himself worked on an asylum case, in conjunction with others in the firm and Human Rights Initiative, that involved a Coptic Christian from Egypt.

“The work was challenging and difficult at times, but the underlying facts of our client’s case were compelling, which made the successful result that much more satisfying for all of us,” he said.

Perkins Coie is grateful to be a part of a legal community that takes seriously its obligation to serve those in need in Dallas, and it encourages other firms and practitioners to give generously to the Campaign as well.

The Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program is a joint pro bono program of the Dallas Bar Association and Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas. The program is the only one of its kind in Texas and brings together the volunteer resources of a major metropolitan bar association with the legal aid expertise of the largest and oldest civil legal aid program in North Texas.

To learn more or make a gift, contact Alicia Hernandez at ahernandez@dallasbar.org or 214-220-7499.

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