Baker Botts

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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
95
Baker Botts (43)
42.1
45.5
38.7

 

Since 2005 Baker Botts has been lending litigators to Houston's Office of the City Attorney. Up to five associates at a time participate in the city's Volunteer Prosecutors' Program. After a week of training, the Baker Botts attorneys spend one day a week for 19 weeks in municipal court, prosecuting misdemeanors such as traffic, fire code, and littering violations. The Am Law Pro Bono 100In 2008 Baker Botts lawyers spent almost 3,400 hours on the prosecution program.

While the cases may not be groundbreaking, the project provides important courtroom experience for the associates. The volunteer prosecutors evaluate as many as 250 cases a day each. "Since new attorneys are not often given opportunities to try jury cases, this arrangement allows them to perform the courtroom duties of a full-time prosecutor," says Lloyd Segall. He is a senior assistant city attorney for the city of Houston who conducts the training program for the volunteer attorneys. "Sometimes [the firm lawyers] get to participate in as many as ten trials per day."

Baker Botts third-year associate Keri Brown, whose stint ended in March, says she had first-hand exposure to the plea bargaining process and negotiating with defense lawyers. Learning to do cross-examinations, rebuttals, and closing arguments before a jury was also invaluable, Brown says.

Today four law firms—including Fulbright & Jaworski, Andrews Kurth, and Bracewell & Giuliani in addition to Baker Botts—are part of the program. Thanks to the firms' help the city is able to save the cost of four full-time public prosecutors—more than $232,000 every year. "It is a quid pro quo that works," says Segall.

—Priti Patnaik | July 1, 2009

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