Cahill Gordon & Reindell

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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
84
Cahill Gordon (112)
46.2
51.7
40.7

 

The lawyers at Cahill Gordon & Reindell don't exactly rush for the sexy, headline-grabbing pro bono project. In fact, it's seemingly discouraged. "If you're just doing research as a litigator and writing briefs, I don't want you to do that on pro bono," says Howard "Peter" Sloane, one of two partners who oversee pro bono at the firm.The Am Law Pro Bono 100 "I want you to have real contact, real experience working with the bureaucracy and administrative law judge or whatever."

No wonder one of the programs getting high participation among the firm's associates is an emancipation clinic operated by The Door, a New York-based youth services nonprofit. At The Door, Cahill associates spend three to four hours twice a month advising disadvantaged teenagers who need advice on emancipating from their parents.

Typically, the teens, who often either do not live with their parents or have strained relationships with them, need assistance getting agency approval for a limited emancipation in order to qualify for student aid or for public assistance programs. Much of the work involves drafting letters on their behalf to convince the agencies to waive the requirements for parental income statements.

"One of the things I like is that you're helping kids who want to help themselves," says Cahill associate Stephen Gruberg, who goes to every clinic. "You're talking about kids who are coming from very disadvantaged situations."

No pro bono coordinators exist at Cahill to organize participation in the project. Gruberg, because of his regular attendance, is as close as a leader for it as the firm gets. It's an approach to pro bono in keeping with the firm's usual way of doing business, Sloane says. "We pride ourselves on less structure and less organization, so our pro bono program is very much an off-shoot of that," he says.

The approach also affects participation. While Cahill in theory aims for 30 hours of pro bono per attorney, "the fact is that some associates just don't," Sloane says. That's fine, he says, since on the flip side are associates who put in more than their share. Pro bono hours per attorney increased 18.2 percent last year to 51.3.

"They've never told me to stop doing pro bono work," says Laura Padin, a litigation associate who volunteers extensively with the Legal Aid Society and the Urban Justice Center. She can do that since associates heavy on pro bono get paid just the same as those busy on billable matters; Sloane not only heads pro bono but also the compensation committee, and he says he makes sure the hours count the same.

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