Pro Bono & Community

Jack Cinquegrana, Chief Justice Margaret Marshall

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    Five Choate attorneys received the President's Volunteer Service Award for their work as Citizen Teachers at the Citizen Schools.  Emily Hodge, Eric Teasdale and Jacqueline Mantica were ranked at the gold level for their time teaching four of the past four semesters, and Genevieve Aguilar and Robert Shames were ranked at a silver level for their time teaching three of the past four semesters.

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    Of the 200 most successful US firms, Choate ranks 8th for Value/Lawyer

  • Ranked among the top 10 firms in the AmLaw 200 for pro bono performance.

    - The American Lawyer

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    Choate ranked No. 1 in The American Lawyer’s 2016 Summer Associate satisfaction survey with perfect scores in each of the nine rating metrics for the third consecutive year.  Summer associates said they were involved in interesting work, performed “real’ work, received exceptional training and guidance and interacted positively with partners and full-time associates.  Choate also earned top scores for communication, accurately portraying itself during the interview process and for the associates’ interest in working there if they were offered a position. Overall, associates unanimously voted Choate as a top place to work.

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    Over one-third of equity partners and majority of practice areas recognized for excellence.

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    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.

 

pro bono & community 

our clients

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.

our traditions

The firm has a well-established commitment to serving an active and generous role in the community.  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 Lawyer's Clearinghouse 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. 

our pro bono program

Each year Choate dedicates thousands of lawyer hours to providing pro bono assistance to clients.  Most associates work on pro bono matters, while every member of recent Summer Associate Classes has 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
  • Constitutional law
  • Criminal law
  • Domestic violence
  • Education law
  • Elder protection
  • Housing law
  • Political asylum
  • Poverty law

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.

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 has 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 worked to reunite her with her young children who remained in Uganda. Because of our success on behalf of that client, we were referred two other cases involving rape as a tool for political suppression in Uganda.

our pro bono partners

The firm has 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
  • 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
  • NAACP
  • 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
  • WGBH

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)

 

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