Fish & Richardson Donates Nearly $200,000 in Attorneys' Fees from Texas Case Protecting Voting Rights

Oct 10, 2019

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University of Texas Law School receives $100,000 to endow scholarship in plaintiff's honor


AUSTIN, Texas,  -- Fish & Richardson announced today that it has donated nearly $200,000 in post-judgment attorneys' fees from the firm's recent pro bono victory in a lawsuit safeguarding the voting rights of individuals with limited English proficiency. In the case, Fish attorneys argued successfully that a provision of the Texas Election Code preventing voters from using the interpreter of their choice during the voting process violated Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and the District Court granted Fish's motion for attorneys' fees, ordering the State to pay out $191,374.


Fish has donated the full fee award to multiple local organizations. First, in memory of plaintiff Mallika Das, who died before the lawsuit concluded, the University of Texas Law School has received $100,000 to endow the Fish & Richardson Mallika Das Scholarship in Voting Rights. The scholarship will assist law students with financial need who have a demonstrated interest in voting rights. The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), which protects and promotes the rights of Asian Americans and litigated the case with Fish, received $40,000 (a portion represents the fees attributed to an AALDEF attorney). The Greater Houston Chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans, the organizational plaintiff in the case, received $25,000 to advance its mission to advocate for the civil rights of Asian Pacific Americans. Lastly, the Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas, a longtime Fish pro bono partner working to broaden access to justice, received $26,374.


"It was an honor to be involved in this important case and to play a role in protecting the rights of all Texas voters with limited English proficiency. By giving back the attorneys' fees, we can continue to support the critical work being done by the Texas legal community," said Fish principal David Hoffman, who led the case with Kenneth Darby and David Morris, also from Fish's Austin office.


The case dates back to 2014 when plaintiff Das, a registered voter from Williamson County, Texas, with limited English proficiency, brought her son to provide language assistance so that she could vote in the 2014 midterm elections. Poll workers in the Central Texas city of Round Rock intervened, telling her that the Texas Election Code prevented such assistance from those who were not registered to vote in the same county. Das was forced to vote alone as a result. During the course of the lawsuit, Das passed away after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.


"We are thrilled to fund the scholarship in Mallika's name and hope that it will be a worthy memorial to everything she did to further voting rights for the people of Texas," added Morris. "She was an amazing woman and she will not be forgotten."


Fish is committed to making pro bono work an integral part of the firm's professional culture, encouraging all of its legal professionals to take on pro bono matters as a regular part of their professional lives.


Fish & Richardson, a premier global intellectual property law firm, is sought-after and trusted by the world's most innovative brands and influential technology leaders. Fish offers patent prosecution; counseling and litigation; and trademark and copyright prosecution, counseling and litigation. Our deep bench of attorneys with first-chair trial experience in every technology makes us the go-to firm for the most technically complex cases. We have an established reputation as a top-tier firm for patent portfolio planning, strategy and prosecution, as well as post-grant proceedings at the PTAB. Fish was established in 1878, and now has more than 400 attorneys and technology specialists in the U.S., Europe and China. Our success is rooted in our creative and inclusive culture, which values the diversity of people, experiences and perspectives. For more information, visit fr.com or follow us at @FishRichardson.

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