Cravath, Swaine & Moore

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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
58
Cravath (52)
59.7
74.6
44.8

 

Cravath, Swaine & Moore may be best known in the pro bono world for its big-impact cases. Last year the firm won the New York City Legal Aid Society's law firm award for a long court battle that forced the city to recognize a state constitutional right to housing.

The Am Law Pro Bono 100A different type of project, in which Cravath has focused on the individual plights of sick children, has had a huge impact, too. For the past seven years, Cravath has teamed with medical professionals at two New York City children's hospitals to help patients whose medical condition might be improved through legal intervention in areas such as housing, immigration, and public benefits.

The firm first got involved in 2002 at Children's Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx, where Dr. Irwin Redlener conceived of the collaboration. "It was different from a lot of other pro bono we had been doing," says litigation partner Paul Saunders, who brought the project to the firm. "A lot of what we had done before was not for individuals."

The firm realized that many of the issues it would see were not ones that it normally encountered with its corporate clients. "They were not problems we knew much about," Saunders says. Cravath lawyers first educated themselves about the topics, and created a library of reference materials. A few areas would be off limit: The firm agreed not to sue the hospital, and decided not to take domestic violence cases.

In one case, the firm got a visa for the Colombian mother of a teenager with kidney failure, who was thought to be a likely donor. In another, the firm won asylum for a girl from French Guiana who had been the victim of female genital mutilation. The girl had been treated at the hospital for post-traumatic stress.

Hundreds of Cravath lawyers have been involved in this project over the years. "The associates love the cases," says corporate partner LizabethAnn Eisen. She is one of eight supervising partners, and worked on this project when she was an associate. In 2003, the firm agreed to work with a second hospital, Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian.

In contrast to litigation projects that can drag on for years, the patients' legal problems can often be resolved quickly. "It's nice to take on matters where you make a few phone calls and you feel like you are doing some good," says Saunders. Adds Eisen: "You can fit it into your daily routine without it overwhelming you. It's something busy lawyers can participate in."

—Susan Beck | July 1, 2009

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