Weil, Gotshal & Manges

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Pro Bono Rank Firm
(Am Law 200 Rank)
Am Law
Pro Bono Score
Average Pro Bono
Hours Per Lawyer
% of Lawyers
With More Than 20 Hours
32
Weil, Gotshal (9)
74.6
85.3
64.0

 

Since its creation in 2002, the International Criminal Court has opened investigations in four countries, indicted 14 individuals, and begun prosecuting eight cases. But it has also released a flood of The Am Law Pro Bono 100decisions on procedural and other issues of international law and justice, which threaten to overwhelm court observers trying to keep up with the ICC's evolution and cases.

"We are drowning in important material coming out of the ICC," says Elise Keppler, senior counsel with the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch. Her organization had a hired a consultant to keep track of ICC developments, but the consultant became overwhelmed soon after the court began holding its first pretrial hearings in 2006. So in early 2007, when Weil, Gotshal & Manges approached Human Rights Watch about taking on a major pro bono project, Keppler proposed monitoring the ICC on a long-term basis and reporting on developments there.

Weil lawyers had done pro bono work for Human Rights Watch in the past, such as drafting an amicus brief in a war crimes trial before the Special Court for Sierra Leone. But the firm was interested in a larger, sustained effort, and it quickly agreed to Keppler's request. "We were very attracted to a project involving human rights that had this global dimension, where associates from many of our offices could work together," says Weil partner Eric Ordway, who is coordinating the project at the firm.

So far, close to 70 Weil attorneys have contributed to the project, logging more than 4,400 hours. The lawyers provide daily updates from the court, including detailed analyses of important decisions and first-person trial accounts. At least two associates are assigned to monitor developments in each country in which the ICC has investigations. That means ensuring, for example, that Weil's offices in Paris or London are ready to cover an early decision in The Hague. Their counterparts in New York or Dallas take over if a lengthy analysis is required.

Keppler says that the sustained nature of Weil's involvement is giving its lawyers real expertise on the ICC, which makes their analyses particularly valuable. She says the Weil reports have given Human Rights Watch an edge in its work, such as when Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony demanded that the ICC rescind his arrest warrant as a condition for signing a peace accord. (At press time Kony was in hiding.) "Knowing the context allowed us to understand the risk of justice being sidelined at the peace talks," says Keppler. "If we're not on top of what's happening at the court, it puts us at a major disadvantage."

—David Bario | July 1, 2009

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