Bell, Boyd & Lloyd

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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
69
Bell, Boyd (173)
54.7
53.1
56.4

 

In 2005 Bell, Boyd & Lloyd partner Richard Sevcik told representatives from Lawyers for Creative Arts (LCA), a legal pro bono association that helps artists and arts organizations resolve legal business problems, that the firm was redoubling its commitment to pro bono. Since then, says Marci Rolnik, the nonprofit's legal director, The Am Law Pro Bono 100Bell, Boyd—acquired last year by K&L Gates, which didn't make our list of top 100 pro bono firms—"has gone above and beyond what we would expect," devoting between 900 and 1,100 hours per year to matters referred to them by the LCA.

Sevcik, who regularly represents charities, says LCA cases "provide an alternative to typical pro bono cases," allowing lawyers to take business-oriented work that typically doesn't demand the same time investment as, say, a criminal matter. The work has also been a way for the firm's lawyers to help arts organizations in their native Chicago.

In 2008 Bell, Boyd lawyers volunteered more than 1,100 hours to the LCA. The firm represented artists in a dispute with art dealers that were selling their work on consignment; helped a documentary film group with production contracts; and—following the unexpected death of one of the group's founders—reorganized a nonprofit that brings Chicago's dance community together for an annual festival.

Another representative project involves the Chicago Independent Radio Project, known locally as CHIRP, which is seeking to launch a community radio station. Organizers are trying to convince Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to remove barriers that prevent it from launching a low-power FM community radio station. But the group couldn't start down this path until it had an entity to accept charitable donations. Bankruptcy associates Matthew McClintock and Sarah Bryan helped CHIRP apply for tax-exempt status and answered other tax-related questions. "Helping these guys with tax matters was somewhat outside our element," McClintock says. "But sometimes it's good to branch out a little."

Thanks to McClintock and Bryan, CHIRP is now incorporated as a nonprofit, and is raising money for its fight with the government. In the meantime, although listeners can't tune in on their radio dial, they will soon be able to listen online, when the group launches its radio station on the Web later this summer.

—Ben Hallman | July 1, 2009

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