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As recently as 1994, neither Latham & Watkins nor Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue had much to brag about in the area of pro bono work. When The American Lawyer‘s Am Law 100 survey ranked the nation’s 100 highest-grossing firms by their pro bono commitment for that year, Latham and Jones Day were number 72 and 73, respectively. Latham had logged about 30 pro bono hours per lawyer, and Jones Day, about 18. Much has changed since then — for the better, and for the worse. Last July, when The Am Law 100 again ranked the nation’s top firms by their commitment to pro bono, this time for fiscal year 2000, Latham was number 10, and Jones Day had slid to 93rd place. Last year Latham devoted about 63,000 hours to pro bono work, as defined by Washington, D.C.’s Pro Bono Institute, for an average of 71 hours per attorney. Jones Day’s total was about 8,400, or a little more than seven hours per lawyer. Given those numbers, it’s no surprise that Latham talks up its good works. This year it received pro bono firm-of-the-year honors from the District of Columbia Bar and the Los Angeles group Public Counsel; the San Diego Volunteer Lawyers Program gave Latham that distinction for 2000. Across the country, dozens of Latham lawyers work to win asylum for children held in custody by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. But Jones Day points to a solid record of public service too. The firm touts its Los Angeles office’s firm-of-the-year nod from Public Counsel in 1999, the long-standing support its Washington, D.C., office has given to legal clinics, and its attorneys’ board memberships in a panoply of organizations and institutions. Clearly, both firms do plenty of good. So why is one the hero and the other the villain? Part of the reason has to do with the definition of pro bono work: The American Lawyer uses the PBI’s strict definition, which excludes such things as bar association work or time spent on boards of legal services organizations. But behind the rankings lie conflicting philosophies about what lawyers should give back to society and how that effort should be measured and managed. As big law firms go, Los Angeles-based Latham and Cleveland-based Jones Day resemble each other more than most. Once regional firms, they ballooned in size and geographical breadth in the ’90s, and each has successfully grown into an international firm, with more than 1,000 lawyers around the world. Last year Jones Day was the nation’s third-highest-grossing law firm, and Latham was the fourth-highest. And until the mid-’90s, their pro bono policies nearly mirrored one another. Neither firm discouraged pro bono work; in fact, each advocated it by including such work in associates’ billable requirements. But neither firm actively pushed its attorneys to get involved, either. Then, in 1996, Latham took a look at its mediocre rankings and started the long process of revamping its pro bono program. “Everyone here’s an A student, not a C student,” Peter Gilhuly, the current national chair of Latham’s pro bono committee, recalls telling colleagues at the time. “If Latham & Watkins is going to do something, we need to put our trademark excellence on it, or we ought not do it at all.” Jones Day, by contrast, has continued what it considers to be a successful pro bono effort, regardless of what the numbers say. The firm takes a broader view of attorney good works than the PBI’s definition of legal work for the indigent, and it encourages its lawyers to contribute to society in whatever ways feel comfortable to them, regardless of whether such service requires specific legal acumen. “We encourage people to be involved with the community, but we leave it to them to choose the avenue by which to do that,” says Robert Rawson Jr., partner-in-charge of the firm’s Cleveland office. For purposes of the Am Law 100 survey, Jones Day breaks out its pro bono time according to the PBI definition, but contends that the resulting number does not fairly reflect its lawyers’ efforts. Ultimately, the firm wishes that such recording were not essential, and that rankings weren’t so influential. “Numbers are only that, a measurement,” says Philip Cook, head of pro bono for Jones Day’s Los Angeles office. “It’s difficult to measure the heart of a lawyer like that. And I deal with lawyers who I believe have a lot of heart — which is apparent in their public service commitment.” “Our firm expects to be north of 85,000 pro bono hours for the year 2001 — well over 80 hours per attorney,” says Steven Schulman, pro bono counsel for Latham & Watkins, of what promises to be another stellar year for the firm’s program. If this goal is met, Latham will have more than tripled its per-lawyer pro bono time since 1995. It was in 1996, two years after Robert Dell took over as Latham’s managing partner, that the firm set out to strengthen its pro bono program. “We were improving our profitability and our market position, but were still pretty lackluster in this one area,” Dell says. “We had never really pushed pro bono from the top down.” At the firm’s annual meeting, Dell sent out the message that Latham’s lawyers should commit themselves to this type of work. In 1997, Mary Rose Alexander, a litigation and environmental law partner who then chaired Latham’s pro bono committee, marshaled support for the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge. This initiative, sponsored by the PBI, asks firms to commit the equivalent of either 3 percent or 5 percent of their annual gross revenues to pro bono work. When the challenge was first presented to Latham in 1993, the firm declined to sign on, uncertain that its lawyers could meet even the minimal 3 percent goal. “They wanted to do it only if all firm resources would be committed,” says Alexander of the firm’s management. “So taking up the challenge [in 1997] was a sort of throwing down of the gauntlet.” Gilhuly, who was a member of Latham’s pro bono committee at the time, helped inspire enthusiasm for the project by pointing to top New York firms, an elite to which Latham aspired: If those firms could have both strong financials and solid pro bono programs, Gilhuly argued, so could Latham. The firm put itself on a three-year schedule to reach an average of 60 pro bono hours per attorney. It would shoot for 40 hours in 1998, 50 hours in 1999 and 60 hours in 2000. At the same time, Latham became more aggressive about finding new pro bono cases. Maureen Syracuse, director of the D.C. bar’s pro bono program, remembers meeting with William Kelly Jr., a partner in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office, which was expanding. Kelly wanted Syracuse to help him find new pro bono outlets in the area. “He said, ‘To be a first-tier law firm in D.C., we will need to have a first-tier pro bono program,’ ” Syracuse recalls. Working with the D.C. bar, Kelly helped create the Community Economic Development Pro Bono Project, which pairs law firms with community development corporations in need of counsel. In the first relationship formed under the program, Kelly acts as general counsel of the East of the River Community Development Corporation, a neighborhood revitalization group in southeast Washington, D.C. “We’ve modeled [the relationship] after what we’d do for a paying client,” says Kelly, who currently has about half a dozen attorneys working on this project. Representation of East of the River, along with several other large transactional undertakings, allows corporate-side lawyers to get involved in pro bono projects as easily as litigators do — one sign of a successful program. Latham has also taken measures to promote pro bono work across offices. Once-a-month conference calls among national pro bono committee members keep each office abreast of activities around the country. In May 2001, Latham created the pro bono counsel position to centralize its program further. In this role, Steven Schulman, a senior associate in the Washington, D.C., office, spends half his time coordinating the firm’s pro bono efforts; the other half is devoted to work for paying clients. At the PBI’s suggestion, Schulman has chosen a “national signature project” for the firm, to galvanize Latham’s domestic offices around a single cause — asylum for children detained by the INS. The PBI encourages such wide-reaching projects because they allow attorneys from disparate offices to work collectively, which leads to greater enthusiasm and involvement across the board. Schulman already had some experience with asylum issues. In 1998 he represented Tolulope Odunlami, a Nigerian pro-democracy activist seeking protection in the United States. Under continuous threat and intimidation from his government, Odunlami, a solar engineer, came to the United States for a work-related conference in September 1996, and did not return home. Two months later he sent for his family. Handling that case awakened Schulman to the merits of public service work. “It was incredible,” he says, “going to court and arguing the case — having that type of client contact.” Schulman won asylum for Odunlami, who now lives in the Washington, D.C., area with his wife and five children. Habitat for Humanity is currently building the family a home in Montgomery County, Md. When Schulman heard about the plight of children seeking asylum, from a colleague at the American Bar Association in February 2001, he immediately sensed that it was a cause Latham could take up. At the time, the Senate was considering a bill concerning procedures for keeping children in INS custody, and, with detention facilities strewn about the country, the cause had national scope. “As I heard about each city with these cases, I thought, ‘D.C. — Latham has an office there; San Francisco — Latham has an office there; L.A. — Latham has an office there,’ ” he says. “ It just made sense for us to get behind this.” The asylum work has the benefit of depth as well as breadth. To fully aid children detained in these centers requires petitioning for more humane facilities, representing individual children in court, and evaluating detention centers to ensure that they are up to code. Latham has not committed to doing this work for any specific length of time. According to Schulman, the firm will remain engaged with the project “as long as there’s a need, and there are people here finding the work interesting.” That hasn’t been a problem — more than 50 Latham attorneys are involved in some aspect of the signature project, and Schulman estimates that their work takes up about 5 percent of the firm’s total pro bono hours. For Andrew Morton, a first-year associate in Latham’s Washington, D.C., office, the project has become a calling. Morton speaks effusively about the unchecked responsibility, and opportunity, that the firm has given him on it. He estimates that he has devoted more than 1,000 hours, about two-thirds of his practice, to it since this spring. His efforts have included testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on behalf of new legislation and evaluating more than a dozen INS detention facilities across the country. Because lawyers from multiple offices work on this project, new volunteers can turn to their peers for guidance in such tasks as evaluating detention centers or drafting pleadings. “The learning curve,” Morton says, “is definitely on our side.” He’s talking about the asylum project, but he could just as easily be talking about Latham’s bid for pro bono preeminence. In contrast to Latham, Jones Day prefers to let its attorneys do their own thing when it comes to pro bono — however much, or little, that may be. “We don’t focus on the hours,” says pro bono head Robert Klonoff. “We don’t try to force people to do pro bono. We don’t need an incentive like the pro bono challenge, because our contributions are second to none, with regard to accomplishments.” Jones Day lawyers may devote only about one-tenth as much time to ABA- (or PBI-) defined pro bono work as their Latham counterparts, but Klonoff says that those numbers don’t tell the whole story. In 2000, Klonoff says, attorneys at Jones Day did about three times as much work that falls outside the ABA pro bono definition, which is slightly less restrictive than the PBI’s, as they did work that falls within it. Counting such work as pro bono increases the firm’s annual average from seven hours per lawyer to about 27.5 — still far less than the 71 hours per lawyer that Latham devoted to ABA-defined work alone. It’s not always easy to follow how Jones Day determines which pro bono hours qualify as “ABA work” and “non-ABA work.” Generally, the firm counts only the counseling of an individual, impoverished client as an ABA-defined pro bono project. Work done at clinics where a client file was not set up or legal research done preparing manuals for clinics is often not included, Klonoff says. That happened with one of the firm’s clinics, where attorneys spent more than 1,500 hours doing ABA-defined pro bono, he says. Although Jones Day counts pro bono work toward its associates’ billables requirement, it is often left to individual attorneys to set up computerized client-matter files for pro bono cases. If attorneys don’t, either because they regard the amount of time spent on a pro bono matter to be negligible, or because they bill the time to a general administrative account, there will be no record of the time. Klonoff, who has been in charge of Jones Day’s pro bono program for about a year, says he understands that this is a problem. “We could do a better job accounting for time, but we are not compensated for it, so people are not so diligent about recording it,” he says. PBI president Esther Lardent acknowledges that underreporting can occur, but sees it as more prevalent in, and as evidence of, an informal pro bono practice. Here, too, Klonoff concedes. “The program has been decentralized,” he says. “I hope to make it more centralized — it’s been hard to do with 27 offices.” As it stands now, the offices act more or less independently of one another. Some Jones Day associates appreciate that the firm doesn’t hold them to any specific expectation regarding pro bono work. “If you don’t want to do it, and there can be valid reasons why someone wouldn’t, then there’s no penalty for it,” says Chad Readler of the firm’s Columbus, Ohio, office. Adds William Brown Jr., a fifth-year associate in the firm’s Los Angeles office: “Jones Day has midwestern values and is very loath to unnecessarily impinge on personal time.” By pledging associate time toward firmwide pro bono goals, some firms “give away something that doesn’t belong to them,” Brown says. Nonetheless, Jones Day lawyers have plenty of opportunities for pro bono work. The firm has had impressive victories representing pro bono clients in court. The firm does death penalty work. Its lawyers have successfully handled immigration cases and helped overturn convictions of inmates who had inadequate representation. Its Los Angeles office handles many consumer fraud cases for Public Counsel, a large local provider of legal services to the poor; Daniel Grunfeld, the group’s president and chief executive officer, calls Jones Day one of the most active firms in the region. As such, Jones Day is one of only two firms to have received Public Counsel’s firm-of-the-year award on two separate occasions. (The other? Latham & Watkins.) Although Brown has taken on cases through Public Counsel, he also has served as president of the local chapter of a charity for people with mental disabilities — and he appreciates that Jones Day hasn’t attempted to shape his volunteerism. Folks at Jones Day jump at the chance to list deeds done by their attorneys that the ABA doesn’t recognize as pro bono — civic boards sat on, charities supported and community service performed. Rawson, partner-in-charge of the Cleveland office, rattles off a sampling from his office alone: The firm’s managing partner, Patrick McCartan, just finished a three-year term as chairman of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association. Of counsel Michael Horvitz is chairman of the board of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Rawson works with the Cleveland Initiative for Education, to support the city’s school district. Other attorneys volunteer at the local food bank and work through North Point Neighbors, a Jones Day program that builds playgrounds, “adopts” poor families during the holidays, and tutors children during the lawyers’ lunch hours. To that list, James Young, head of pro bono in Cleveland, adds involvement with religious organizations, local hospitals and the United Way. “I can’t think of a major charitable or civic group in Cleveland that a Jones Day attorney hasn’t been involved in,” Young says. Other Jones Day offices have similar undertakings. And even though many of these efforts have no legal component, they often dramatically affect those who are served. Before Jones Day moved its Washington, D.C., office in the spring of 1999, it “adopted” the Community for Creative Non-Violence, a large homeless shelter a block and a half from the firm’s new digs. The firm made an initial donation to the center of seed money for a drug treatment program and has supported the general needs of the center with contributions since then. As a part of this good-neighbor effort, Jones Day partner Peter Garvin III joined the shelter’s board of directors. In this advisory role, Garvin has written letters on behalf of the shelter and helped obtain a five-year renewal on the shelter’s lease, which had been in jeopardy. Garvin also acts as a contact for staff and attorneys who want to volunteer at the shelter: People have helped paint the facility and have donated books to its library. Through such work, Garvin says, Jones Day attorneys get “good insight into a slice of life we don’t normally come in contact with on our drives to and from work.” Does it make a difference how lawyers choose to give back to society — as long as they give something? In a nation in which four out of five low-income people cannot get their legal needs met, because they lack adequate resources, the automatic answer seems to be, yes, that choice absolutely matters. “Lawyers hold the keys to the courthouse,” Lardent says, “and there are a lot of people who can’t get in.” Robert Weiner, chair of the ABA’s standing committee on pro bono and public service, agrees. “We [lawyers] have years of legal training and experience,” he says. “That’s where our comparative advantage is over other professionals who can contribute in their own ways.” That’s not to say that lawyers shouldn’t be involved in other civic-minded activities — the two are not mutually exclusive, Lardent and Weiner say. The annual 50 hours recommended by the ABA is “not a great deal to ask,” Weiner contends. “It really is a fairly small percentage of most attorneys’ billable hours.” But when a firm can show clear evidence of accomplishment in providing pro bono legal services to the poor — as demonstrated by Public Counsel’s firm-of-the-year awards to Jones Day’s Los Angeles office — does it really matter whether the average annual number of hours its lawyers set aside for pro bono is 70 or seven? If all of Jones Day’s offices performed as spectacularly as its Los Angeles office, then perhaps not. But that’s not the case: In 2000 Jones Day’s Washington, D.C., office, for example, racked up more than eight times as many ABA-defined pro bono hours as its Cleveland office, even though the Cleveland office had 47 more attorneys than the D.C., office. In fact, about 70 percent of Jones Day’s ABA-defined pro bono hours in 2000 came from just three offices: Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C. Signature projects and targeted time commitments attempt to overcome disparities between offices like those at Jones Day. Many attorneys at Latham say that their firm’s hourly goals give them direction and motivation, something to work toward — which has led to participation across offices that is more uniform than at Jones Day. According to Lardent, such targets help put pro bono matters on equal footing with work for paying clients. “If a firm doesn’t put a quantifiable number of hours on pro bono, then how is someone supposed to know what’s expected, what’s acceptable behavior?” she says. Attorneys need the unequivocal message from firm leadership that pro bono is a priority, says the D.C. bar’s Syracuse. Otherwise, associates can get tangled in a briar patch of billable work, and pro bono may fall by the wayside. “If the policy of the firm [on pro bono work] is, ‘It’s great, we love it, do it,’ and then an assigning partner is doing the same with billable work, there can be a lot of messages hitting associates, and the messages can conflict with one another,” she says. Latham & Watkins has cleared such confusion by taking a staunch stand on pro bono work. Jones Day remains less definite. As pro bono projects continue to battle with billable work, firms need to speak loudly on pro bono’s behalf — or pro bono will lose every time. Jones Day by the Numbers Total pro bono hours, FY 2000: 8,378 Average pro bono hours per lawyer, FY 2000: 7.42 Total pro bono hours, FY 1994: 19,058 Average pro bono hours per lawyer, FY 1994: 17.78 Latham & Watkins by the Numbers Total pro bono hours, FY 2000: 63,239 Average pro bono hours per lawyer, FY 2000: 70.74 Total pro bono hours, FY 1994: 15,327 Average pro bono hours per lawyer, FY 1994: 29.59

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