Ballard Spahr Attorneys Set Firm Record With Nearly 53,000 Pro Bono Hours Donated in 2020
Ballard Spahr attorneys contributed 52,909 hours of pro bono legal services in 2020, a record number for the firm—highlighted by its racial justice initiative, major litigation victories, and response to the COVID-19 pandemic on behalf of underrepresented groups and individuals, the firm announced.
As part of its pro bono program, Ballard Spahr is donating more than $45,000 to nonprofit organizations. The organizations are selected by recipients of the firm’s pro bono awards and members of its 2020 pro bono honor roll—235 individuals across Ballard Spahr’s 15 offices nationwide who contributed 50 or more hours each last year. As a core feature of its pro bono program, Ballard Spahr partners with civil rights, legal aid, and charitable organizations across the country.
“During a time when our communities, the nation, and the world needed it most, Ballard Spahr stepped up,” firm Pro Bono Counsel Lisa B. Swaminathan said. “I couldn’t be more proud and appreciative of our attorneys and staff who worked so hard to address the needs of our pro bono clients.
“Their contributions across so many critical areas—from voting rights, policing, and child advocacy to asylum, public health, and representing the press in communities of color—have made a significant positive difference for so many people in need of legal aid.”
Ballard Spahr recently unveiled the winners of the firm’s awards for pro bono service in 2020: the Alan J. Davis Award—named for the late Philadelphia City Solicitor and distinguished Ballard Spahr litigator who was deeply devoted to public service; the Leonard E. Lindquist Award, named for the co-founder of the firm’s Minneapolis office, for providing pro bono support directly to low-income individuals; and four additional awards for outstanding pro bono service.
The firm is donating a total of $34,000 to nonprofit organizations of the winners’ choice, along with $11,750 in recognition of honor roll members, to legal services organizations of their choice.
The Alan J. Davis Award goes to a team of litigators from Ballard Spahr’s Denver office for obtaining a favorable statement from the bench in litigation spanning more than 40 years involving the Taylor Ranch in the San Luis Valley in south-central Colorado. The team—including attorneys Sarah Wallace, Alexia Chapman, Chad Jimenez, Andrew Valencia, and staff member Sherri Clark—is fighting to preserve the right of historical landowners to access an 83,000-acre mountainous parcel for grazing, timber, and firewood collection.
The Leonard E. Lindquist Award recognizes three different 2020 efforts, involving almost 30 lawyers and paralegals, pursuing release from immigration detention for medically vulnerable individuals to protect them from COVID-19.
The firm also bestowed awards for outstanding pro bono service to recognize attorneys involved in:
- Excellence in Race Equity Litigation and Policy Advocacy: In 2020, Kahlil Williams led a challenge to prison-based gerrymandering in Pennsylvania, the prior administration’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, and various additional voting rights advocacy efforts.
- Media Law Diverse Journalists Pro Bono Initiative: More than 45 attorneys participated in the initiative to provide pro bono legal services to publications that serve communities of color. In addition to the prepublication advice and newsroom counseling, they handled employment concerns, loan documentation, and even the sale of a publication.
- Aequitas Health Representation: An attorney team led by Amy Arndt and Kelly Herrmann guided a holistic audit of the legal needs of this national honor society dedicated to identifying and recognizing medical students as future physician leaders in health equity. These attorneys secured tax-exempt status for Aequitas, drafted governance documents, created charters for a growing membership, and assisted with intellectual property, insurance, and higher education matters.
- COVID-19 Force Majeure Clinic Representations: In Washington, D.C., seven Ballard Spahr attorneys teamed with the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center to work with small business owners subject to rapid changes affecting their businesses. Their work included an educational session on force majeure, advice on how the pandemic affected their contractual obligations, and negotiations on behalf of small business owners.
In addition, the firm recognized 114 individuals firm-wide who participated in an election protection effort during the November 2020 elections. They contributed more than 2,700 hours to staff a hotline, volunteer in polling places, and serve as poll watchers.
Ballard Spahr consistently ranks among the top 100 law firms in the Am Law Pro Bono Report. The firm has received numerous awards and honors in recognition of outstanding commitment to pro bono work, including the illustrious Pro Bono Publico Award in 2018 from the American Bar Association.
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