Foley & Lardner

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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
56
Foley & Lardner (35)
61.6
55.1
68.1

 

Three brothers created an animated online cartoon. It's gone viral, and now they want to package it for cable. A fashion designer has created a unique piece of women's wear and must draft a patent The Am Law Pro Bono 100application. A calligrapher in China needs legal counsel because a popular Chinese TV program is interested in using his work.

These clients are all part of Foley & Lardner's new artists and arts organizations pro bono practice group. The group was founded in January 2009, when the firm decided to harness some of its intellectual property expertise for a wide-ranging pro bono project.

"The types of clients we represent are as diverse as art is," says Foley & Lardner partner Martin Bishop, the chair of Foley's pro bono committee in Chicago, who orchestrated the new project. The group has represented a variety of artists—from musicians to actors to video game developers—in legal matters ranging from IP litigation to copyright registrations to landlord and tenant disputes.

Clients come from community-based artist organizations, such as Lawyers for Creative Arts in Chicago, says Heidi Belongia, a senior counsel in Foley's Chicago office. These organizations prescreen artists and refer them to Foley if they lack the financial means to hire private counsel. Over 100 Foley lawyers have volunteered to join the practice group during the last six months. The group is active in all of the firm's offices worldwide, but Foley's Chicago headquarters receives the most cases because the city has the "best-developed infrastructure to funnel work to the firm," Bishop says.

Artists are often overlooked as pro bono candidates, Bishop says. "You wouldn't think that they'd qualify for pro bono, but they do," he says. "Many artists are down on their luck and out of money." They often need advice on intellectual property rights to avoid being exploited by savvier people in the industry, Bishop adds: "Without the help of competent counsel, some of their rights would go unprotected."

—Claire Zillman | July 1, 2009

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