Responsibility, compassion for the needs of others, and dedication to improving the communities in which we live and work—Cleary remains fully committed to the duties of good global citizenship.

In 2015, Law360 named Cleary a Pro Bono Firm of the Year and a Pro Bono All Star—an honor accorded to firms appearing on the Pro Bono Firms of the Year list at least three times since 2010.

Since Cleary’s founding, we have believed pro bono work should be a mindful choice, one that expresses both personal and collective interests. Our firm fully supports the voluntary legal efforts of all of our lawyers.

  • More than 70 percent of Cleary lawyers logged more than 90,000 hours worldwide to pro bono legal counsel and public service efforts.
  • The firm sponsors two public interest externship programs—on a rotating basis, firm associates are placed for four months in a full-time position at either MFY Legal Services Inc. or Lawyers Alliance for New York. In 1968, we were the first law firm to establish such a program.
  • In London, Cleary was the second U.S. firm to sign the Joint Protocol for Pro Bono Legal Work and is active with LawWorks, the leading pro bono resource for legal volunteers in the United Kingdom.

We approach our pro bono work exactly as we approach our paying cases: putting the full needs of the client front and center. A supervising partner at the helm of each project ensures that we leverage the full resources of the firm to solve complex legal problems, provide assistance for growing social problems and add value to all required client services.

Notable Pro Bono Projects

Our relationships with various public interest organizations open doors to a range of pro bono opportunities for all of our lawyers. Among the many recent pro bono matters handled by the firm, Cleary lawyers in the U.S. have:

  • Fought against systemic delays in the Bronx Criminal Court.
  • Actively defended the rights of incarcerated individuals against physical and sexual abuse.
  • Secured sizeable settlements for individuals wrongfully detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
  • Helped New York City Housing Authority low-income tenants formalize home-based catering businesses.
  • Won relief for over 100 individuals and families from around the world fleeing persecution.
  • Secured a landmark victory in a consumer fraud lawsuit against conversion therapy providers for claiming to change individuals from gay to straight.
  • Cleared relevant criminal records for sex trafficking victims.
  • Helped community organizations form sustainable public/private partnerships to expand their missions.
  • Fought for the rights of transgender individuals denied access to public facilities and medical benefits.

Our pro bono areas of focus have included:

  • Immigration law
  • Civil rights
  • Special education litigation
  • Criminal defense and death penalty cases
  • Prisoners’ rights
  • Family law
  • Trafficking and international human rights
  • Art and entertainment law
  • Intellectual property law
  • Environmental law
  • Not-for-profit law
  • Microenterprise, social enterprise and microfinance law
  • Comparative legal research
  • Veterans’ law
  • Housing litigation and affordable housing development

With 16 offices on four continents working seamlessly as one firm, Cleary has the ability to serve pro bono clients in many locations around the world. Whether it’s furthering the cause of democracy, helping establish satellite offices for nonprofits, ensuring safe communities for citizens or advising NGOs, Cleary takes on pro bono matters where our global capacity can have a larger impact.

Our New York, D.C. and London offices also have well-developed community service programs that promote leadership and the pursuit of higher education, while bridging the gap between our lawyers and young people in our communities.

  • New York: For more than 20 years, our New York office has partnered with the Washington Irving Campus in a multiprogram year-round initiative to prepare public high school students for college and adult life.
  • Washington, D.C.: Our D.C. office mentors McKinley Technology High School students on a biweekly basis in connection with the D.C. College Access Program. In 2014, Cleary received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs in recognition of the program.
  • London: Lawyers in our London office engage in a six-week legal skills curriculum for 13- and 14-year-old pupils attending schools in under-resourced communities.

If You Need a Pro Bono Lawyer

Cleary Gottlieb does not accept direct requests for pro bono representation. Our pro bono clients are referred to us by legal services organizations. If you are in need of pro bono legal representation, you may be able to find help from one of these resources:

Get more information about pro bono at Cleary here.

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