Buchanan Ingersoll

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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
94
Buchanan Ingersoll (102)
42.4
46.0
38.7

 

For Buchanan Ingersoll, it's all about thinking locally. Last year the firm's Philadelphia office took on 15-16 cases through the Philadelphia VIP program, which matches local pro bono counsel to a wide variety of civil cases and efforts on behalf of low-income residents. The 2008 VIP cases included custody battles, consumer finance disputes, and personal injury claims. The Am Law Pro Bono 100It's not just litigators who get involved; a transactional lawyer helped a day care obtain licenses and a zoning variance.

Nearly one in five of the firm's Philadelphia lawyers worked on a VIP case, most of them associates, says Samantha Southall, a senior associate who coordinates the firm's involvement in the program and was appointed to VIP's board of directors last year. Total hours logged topped 500. This past January, in recognition of that high participation rate, the group awarded the firm, along with Blank Rome and Pepper Hamilton, its top pro bono honors.

Buchanan's Pittsburgh office has a similarly relationship with the local county court's protection from abuse program, says Southall. Last year the firm's lawyers took on more than two dozen protection orders on behalf of victims of abuse. "People here try to focus on the community they're in," says Southall. "It's about giving back to the community. We don't really publicize it."

Patrick Casey, a fourth-year associate in the commercial litigation practice group, wanted hands-on experience in court, and was able to get that immediately when he offered to take a case defending a low-income homeowner in a slip-and-fall suit. "Everyone goes to law school thinking eventually you're going to be arguing a case in court," says Casey, age 30. "In reality, you don't really get to do that much." In early May, he argued his client's case before a panel of arbitrators. The decision is pending. "There was no one looking over my shoulder," Casey says. "It was a great opportunity."

—Julie Triedman | July 1, 2009

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