Snell & Wilmer

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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
77
Snell & Wilmer (115)
51.3
50.8
51.8

 

Since 2006, Tucson attorney Andrew Jacobs has been recruiting lawyers in Arizona and Nevada to argue pro bono cases in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. His firm, Snell & Wilmer, became active in the Ninth Circuit program early in the decade when its management was looking for ways to energize its The Am Law Pro Bono 100pro bono commitment.

But Jacobs was interested in finding pro bono possibilities closer to home that would provide similar courtroom training for the firm's associates. So in 2007, in a meeting with federal district court judges in Tucson, he proposed a program for Arizona modeled on the Ninth Circuit's. "I basically wanted to do with the district court what we were already doing with pro bono appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco and Pasadena," Jacobs says. "The judges thought it was a pretty cool idea."

Two years later, the firm has committed more than 4,250 hours to the district court pro bono program in Arizona, which Jacobs founded in April 2007. The program has recruited lawyers for about 30 cases it has selected so far, winning hundreds of thousands of dollars in awards for indigent clients. Snell & Wilmer has taken more cases than any other firm, but Jacobs says he's also recruited lawyers (mainly Phoenix-based) from Quarles & Brady, Perkins Coie, and Fennemore Craig to take multiple cases.

Jacobs says 80 percent of the cases deal with the rights of prisoners, with the remainder made up of employment and immigration cases. Recent cases handled by Snell & Wilmer associates include winning damages for a prison inmate who was sexually harassed for his claim against a guard who beat him; winning a $115,000 award for an inmate whose hepatitis was not treated in prison; and winning citizenship for a man incarcerated by U.S. immigration authorities for three years.

In addition to the services the program provides for its pro bono clients, Jacobs says it has helped his firm increase its pro bono commitment to 51 hours per lawyer in 2008. "This program is really the thing that pushed us over the top," he says.

—David Bario | July 1, 2009

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