Willkie’s longstanding commitment to providing high quality pro bono legal service has earned it the distinction of “Pro Bono Firm of 2012” by the online legal publisher Law360. In particular, Willkie was distinguished for its successful representation of the plaintiff group in the high-profile New York State redistricting case, winning the dismissal of federal criminal charges against a Sierra Leone native, helping to secure an appeals court ruling for the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) in a classroom creationism case, providing assistance to Common Ground in its reorganization, and working with The Innocence Project to exonerate a client wrongly incarcerated for 30 years.
A Law 360 profile includes an interview with partner Michael Schachter, who serves as Chair of Willkie’s Pro Bono Committee and is a member of the Criminal Justice Act Panel for the Southern District of New York. Last year the firm took 23 cases from the Panel, which defends indigent individuals facing federal criminal charges. Mr. Schachter discussed the firm’s success in proving the innocence of a Sierra Leonean man wrongly accused of drug trafficking, highlighting that “The ability to see an innocent person exonerated was an unbelievable experience for everyone on the team.” In discussing how Willkie’s pro bono contributions are made on a voluntary basis, Mr. Schachter told Law360 that “people will be more enthusiastic about matters they take on if it’s what they want to do, not what they’re required to do.”
The profile also includes interviews with partners Richard Mancino and Thomas Golden, who discuss other significant Willkie pro bono victories that made recent headlines.