Lobbying for millions of dollars in childhood cancer research, fighting to hold Bolivian officials responsible for human rights violations and working to restore a deaf man’s dignity after he was wrongfully jailed for weeks have earned Akin Gump a spot as one of Law360’s Pro Bono Firms of 2016.
Akin Gump’s pro bono practice, which is helmed by partner Steven Schulman and pro bono counsel Fiona Brett, is jokingly referred to within the firm as both its largest and smallest practice group. Brett, Schulman and a nonattorney coordinator are the only full-time members of the practice. Yet attorneys at Akin Gump, who aren’t required to do pro bono work, worked a total of 73,832 hours last year, averaging 93 pro bono hours per attorney.
“At Akin Gump, pro bono is integrated into the culture,” Brett said. “Our firm founder made public service a very strong part of our culture and our leadership has focused on public service and pro bono in such a profound way that it’s quite wonderful for Steve and for me that we’re not always pounding the drum and trying to get people to do pro bono or believe in pro bono.”
One of the key advantages for the firm’s pro bono practice, Brett said, is the attorneys’ array of experience and expertise, whether it’s from State Department veterans or human rights experts.