Holland & Hart



Pro Bono Rank Firm
(Am Law 200 Rank)
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Holland & Hart (142)


In 2006 Holland & Hart chairman Scott Barker spent his Thanksgiving in Albania, arranging for a Guantánamo detainee known by the pseudonym Abu Muhammed to be released there. Barker met with local refugee groups and a United Nations official to settle the details for the arrival of this client, an Algerian national who claimed he could not safely return to his country.

The Am Law Pro Bono 100Since 2005 the Denver-based firm has represented five Algerians who have been imprisoned at Guantánamo, working with the Center for Constitutional Rights. To date, two clients have been released (the other to Algeria), and two others have been cleared for release. The releases were the result of the government's administrative review of their cases, which included materials submitted by Holland & Hart. The fifth client is scheduled to have a habeas hearing before D.C. federal district court judge Rosemary Collyer in July.

Barker got his firm involved in March 2005, after he attended a meeting of the American College of Trial lawyers that was devoted to individual rights after September 11. "These cases are the due process constitutional issues of our generation," says Barker. The litigation partner also is drawn to cases involving the military. "I'm from a military family and I served in Southeast Asia," says Barker, who graduated from the Air Force Academy. "I have a visceral connection to the military."

Muhammed is a medical doctor who was arrested in Pakistan while living in a U.N. refugee camp. The firm maintained that the doctor had never been engaged in any acts of terrorism against the United States and never belonged to any forces hostile to the United States. When he won his release, the firm had to petition the court not to release him to his native Algeria, noting that he fled the country to avoid military service.

This project has attracted more interest at the firm than it can accommodate. Thirty lawyers have volunteered, but the firm could only manage ten. "Law firms like ours don't deal with constitutional issues that much," says Barker. "This is constitutional law at its highest level."

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