Since its inception, our firm has been dedicated to providing pro bono legal services in our communities. For years, Vorys has been a signatory of the American Bar Association’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge. Our long history and ongoing activities in this area were formally recognized in 2001, when we became one of the few large law firms in the nation to receive the prestigious Pro Bono Publico Award from the ABA.
We believe that pro bono work is a fundamental part of being a lawyer. Our firm therefore strives to foster an environment that encourages all of our attorneys – from the newest associate to the most senior partner – to provide legal services to individuals and organizations that otherwise may lack access to the legal system.
Our attorneys serve on the governing boards of many legal services groups and other organizations dedicated to the cause of increasing access to legal services and the justice system. We also work with such organizations in developing new pro bono initiatives. For example, our firm recently partnered with the Association of Corporate Counsel, the Pro Bono Institute, the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation, the Legal Aid Society of Columbus, and volunteer lawyers from Nationwide Insurance to conduct a clinic that addressed the need for free legal advice to community-based non-profit organizations in central Ohio.
In our view, pro bono work helps our attorneys to develop as lawyers and as contributing members of our communities. Assisting poor and disadvantaged individuals, charitable organizations, and legal aid societies in addressing and resolving legal problems can be a deeply rewarding experience. In addition, pro bono legal work often provides excellent opportunities for our associates to sample new areas of practice and to gain significant practical experience at early stages in their careers.
We encourage our attorneys to identify and pursue pro bono activities that are of particular interest to them. These are just a few of the pro bono matters our lawyers have recently worked on:
- Participating on Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson's Special Commission on Missing Persons and Sex Crime Investigations, which was convened to help guide the city’s policies and procedures on how missing persons and sex crimes are investigated and handled.
- Advocating for low-income, special needs children under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for the services they need to obtain a meaningful and adequate public education.
- Litigating under the Hague Convention for the return of internationally missing children.
- Representing indigent defendants in criminal and habeas corpus cases, including death penalty cases, in the federal district courts and courts of appeals.
- Litigating a constitutional challenge to a state statute requiring the forced extraction of DNA samples from an expanding class of convicted offenders.
- Collaborating with the Civil Gideon Project to advocate for the right to appointed counsel in civil proceedings where fundamental rights are at stake.
- Providing legal counsel to various community-based non-profit organizations.
- Providing assistance to low-income taxpayers.