Jack Cinquegrana, Chief Justice Margaret Marshall
- toggleEmily Hodge Selected for BBA Leadership Program
Emily Hodge has been named as one of 14 attorneys chosen for the Boston Bar Association’s prestigious Public Interest Leadership Program. Read more…
Choate attorneys were recently among the first lawyers in the country to successfully challenge the constitutionality of a school district's "zero tolerance" weapons policy, in the case of an honor student who disarmed a student who threatened his friend with a pocket knife and then delayed turning the knife over to school officials. Choate’s “Education Law Project” collaboration with the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School works to combat the “school to prison pipeline” problem in Massachusetts, which results in at-risk (predominantly) minority students ending up in prison after facing school disciplinary exclusions.
- toggleRecognized for Work with IndigentAssociate
Emily Hodge, associate in litigation, was featured in the Lawyers' Clearinghouse Newsletter for her work with the Massachusetts Legal Clinic for the Homeless.
- toggleHonored for civil rights workAssociate
Matt Andrus was awarded the "Civil Rights Recognition Award" by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights for his work with the Belin Economic Justice Project.
- toggleMacey Russell Named Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Diversity HeroPartner
Macey Russell has been recognized as one of four "Diversity Heroes" by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.
pro bono & community
Low-income children with special education needs who are being undereducated across Massachusetts…A woman who was kidnapped from her children…A refugee from Darfur who faced deportation to the Sudan… Ugandan women who were raped to silence their political activism…Small business owners and would-be owners in East Boston… A flower shop owner who wanted to expand her business into a neighborhood of Boston…A former child soldier from the Congo…A sex slave from Liberia…Women entrepreneurs who sought business advice on how best to take their ideas to market…A new non-profit that will bring $15,000,000 to programs that reduce poverty in Boston…A medical and human rights clinic in one of the poorest slums in Haiti…A young man who received an unjust prison sentence under the now-reformed sentencing guidelines governing possession of crack cocaine…Homeless men and women who are entitled to certain benefits but cannot wade through the complex regulations to receive them…
These are our clients. Their stories and related legal needs form the fabric of some of our most compelling pro bono work, and they represent the newest page of a storied tradition of giving back.
The firm has a well-established commitment to serving an active and generous role in the community, and we were recently recognized by The American Lawyer with a top 10 ranking for pro bono performance among the AmLaw 200. We are proud of this tradition and consider it to be part of our responsibility and our success. The firm’s public service includes the provision of pro bono legal services to the indigent and under-served communities across a broad spectrum of needs; creative collaborations with public and private organizations that support these communities; organized bar activities; and volunteer work for numerous non-profit organizations.
Our commitment to public service is carried out at all levels of the firm - from summer associates to senior partners - and across all practice areas - from litigation to corporate and practice groups in-between.
our commitment to pro bono intersects with our commitment to diversity
Our public service mission is intertwined, as it should be, with our commitment to diversity. Just as we appreciate the importance of our attorneys representing the richness of our community, so too should our pro bono program. Accordingly, we collaborate with the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law School under the leadership of Professor Charles J. Ogletree, the Center for Women & Enterprise, the Women’s Bar Foundation and the Political Asylum Immigration Representation Project, among other organizations, to ensure that under-served populations have access to justice from some of the most capable and committed lawyers in the country.
We also collaborate with Professor Ogletree and the Institute to expose Harvard law students to the “school to prison pipeline” - which disproportionately sends at-risk students of color from school to prison. With Choate’s support, Harvard law students are researching legal remedies to the pipeline, and are developing a deeper understanding of the intersect between education as a civil right and racial justice. Click here to read more about our commitment to diversity.
our pro bono program
In 2007 and 2008 Choate dedicated nearly 18,000 lawyer hours to providing pro bono assistance to clients. Last year, 91 percent of associates worked on pro bono matters, while almost every member of the 2008 Summer Associate Class participated in this important work. Associates play leadership roles in many of our pro bono initiatives, from organizing legal clinics at local homeless shelters and supervising the corresponding cases to developing a program linking corporate attorneys with entrepreneurs starting businesses in local communities of color. Our associates and partners have received high praise for their good work.
The pro bono program provides unique professional development opportunities for attorneys at every practice level in the fields of:
- Civil liberties
- Corporate law
- Constitution law
- Consumer law
- Criminal law
- Domestic violence
- Education law
- Elder protection
- Housing law
- Political asylum
- Poverty law
- Presidential clemency
Recent pro bono highlights include:
education law matters
We recently focused our pro bono efforts on cutting off the “school to prison pipeline” by representing low-income students in educational law matters through the firm’s collaboration with the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law School under the leadership of Professor Charles J. Ogletree and the Center for Law and Education. The goal of this unique collaboration is to keep at-risk students with learning disabilities in school and out of the criminal justice system by ensuring that they receive the free, appropriate public education to which they are entitled under federal and state law – through both individual cases and more systemic responses. Choate attorneys represent these students and their parents before school administrators, state agencies and in court. While this collaboration was formed in 2008 and launched later that year, already the firm has undertaken the representation of 12 families in these matters.
political asylum immigration project
Choate has a long standing collaboration with PAIR, and regularly represents asylum seekers and detainees from African countries. The firm has an impressive record of success in these matters, and in the last year alone we obtained asylum for female victims of gang rape and sexual slavery in Uganda and Liberia; and prevented the deportation of a young man from Darfur who had been conscripted into a child militia camp. One of the more compelling cases involved our Ugandan client who had been brutally gang raped on two separate occasions in an attempt to stifle her political activism. Choate successfully represented the client before the US Department of Homeland Security and is currently working to reunite her with her young children who remain in Uganda. Because of our success on behalf of that client, we recently were referred two other cases involving rape as a tool for political suppression in Uganda.
Choate represents Clarence Aaron in his petition to commute an unjust prison sentence issued under the old sentencing guidelines governing possession/distribution of crack cocaine. Mr. Aaron grew up poor in Mobile, Alabama but was accepted into college through his dedication to education, church, sports and family. After his grandfather died and with no financial support for college, Mr. Aaron participated in two drug transactions instigated by an old friend. After the second transaction was thwarted, Mr. Aaron turned himself into the police without the effective guidance of counsel. Ultimately he was found guilty of three counts related to conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and received three life sentences. Mr. Aaron, with no previous record, received by far the severest sentence, with most co-conspirators receiving nine years or less.
Choate filed a motion for resentencing under the retroactively applied amendments to the sentencing guidelines governing possession and distribution of crack cocaine. The motion was denied by the same judge who sentenced Mr. Aaron on the grounds that the quantity of cocaine at the heart of the sentence rendered the amendments inapplicable. President Bush denied Mr. Aaron’s commutation petition, and Choate is preparing to submit a clemency petition to the Obama administration.
Choate attorneys provided pro bono corporate legal assistance to Boston Rising, a new charity established by another Choate pro bono client, the EOS Foundation, to fight poverty in Boston. Modeled in part after New York’s successful Robin Hood program, Boston Rising’s aim is to partner with local private donors to focus on fighting poverty and investing in effective non-profits. The Choate team assisted it in all aspects of Boston Rising’s non-profit entity formation.
EOS recently announced the launch of a $15 million multi-year investment in Boston Rising to create an “Impact Zone” grant program to improve the economic and community well being of a targeted neighborhood in Boston. While the formation of Boston Rising is now complete, Choate’s commitment to the organization and its important goal of finding long-term solutions to ending the cycle of poverty remains strong: Choate partner Robert Jahrling continues to serve on its advisory board.
our pro bono partners
The firm provided pro bono services through a wide range organizations, including:
- American Civil Liberties Union
- Anti-Defamation League
- BBA Administration of Justice
- BBA Delivery of Legal Services
- Boston Rising
- Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice, Harvard Law School
- Center for Women and Enterprise
- Criminal Justice Act Program
- Equal Justice Coalition
- Greater Boston Legal Services (including Leadership League & Matching Gifts – Associates’ Drive Donor)
- Initiative for a New Economy, Inc.
- Lawyers Clearinghouse For Affordable Housing (founding firm)
- Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights (founding firm)
- PAIR (Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project)
- Pine Street Inn
- Suffolk County Elder Protection
- Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts
- Volunteer Lawyers Project
- Women’s Bar Foundation’s Family Law Project For Battered Women
our community involvement
Choate lawyers are privileged to serve in leadership roles and/or to volunteer their time to many worthwhile community organizations, including:
- Animal Rescue League of Boston
- Appleseed Foundation
- Boston History Museum
- Boys & Girls Clubs
- Center for Women & Enterprise
- Chamber of Commerce
- Citizen Schools
- City Year
- Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
- Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation
- Goodwill Industries
- Home for Little Wanderers
- Massachusetts Charitable Society
- Massachusetts High Technology Council
- Massachusetts Software Council
- MIT Entrepreneurship Center
- Museum of Science
- National Arthritis Foundation
- Nature Conservancy
- Numerous Town and Municipal Governments
- Numerous University, College and Secondary Educational Institutions
- Perkins School for the Blind
- The Reaching Back Foundation
- United Way
our bar related programs
Choate lawyers have played active and prominent roles in numerous bar related programs:
- American Bar Association
- American Bar Association Minority Counsel Program
- Asian-American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts (president)
- Boston Bar Association (including past presidents)
- Hispanic Bar Association
- Joint Bar on Judicial Appointments (including past Chair)
- Massachusetts Bar Association (including past presidents)
- Massachusetts Bar Association Black Lawyers Association
- Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers
- Massachusetts Judicial Nominating Commission (including past Chair)
pro bono accolades for associates and partners
Choate associates and partners are recognized in many circles for their good work. In 2007, six Choate attorneys were recognized by the Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services for their pro bono representation of people who were detained in the much publicized raid by immigration agents in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The Committee cited these lawyers for volunteering “in the finest tradition of the Massachusetts Bar” to use their skills to aid those impacted by the immigration enforcement action.
Associate Emily Hodge was featured in Lawyers' Clearinghouse Summer 2009 Newsletter for her work with the Massachusetts Legal Clinic for the Homeless, which operates free legal clinics throughout the year at area homeless shelters. Emily, associate in litigation, coordinates all aspects of the firm’s involvement with Lawyers' Clearinghouse for Affordable Housing.
Partner Macey Russell recently was recognized as one of four Diversity Heroes by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly for his dedication to fostering diversity and pro bono work in the Boston legal community.