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The numbers aren’t all in yet, but Latham & Watkins couldn’t wait — it had to spread the word that even while it’s the state’s most profitable law firm, it’s not all about the money. While some of the other 120 law firms participating in a national program to encourage pro bono work are still tallying their figures, Latham & Watkins is already touting its 2000 numbers. The firm donated about $15 million in pro bono work last year. That accounts for 63,669 hours, which satisfies the firm’s goal of donating 3 percent of its total billables to pro bono. “They’ve increased dramatically at the time when pressures were focused on the bottom line,” said Esther Lardent, who heads the Pro Bono Institute at the Georgetown University Law Center. The program enlists firms to donate 3 percent or 5 percent billable hours to pro bono and helps connect them to needy clients. What helps the California firms log bigger pro bono numbers is having offices located elsewhere, said Lardent. The Silicon Valley, for example, doesn’t offer as many pro bono opportunities as other areas, she said. Along with Latham & Watkins, the other California firms in the program are Cooley Godward; Farella Braun & Martel; Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe; McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen; Morrison & Foerster; Pillsbury Winthrop; Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton; and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Latham & Watkins is a newcomer to the program, joining two years ago when the average pro bono billables per lawyer were just 30 hours. The 2000 tally equals 70.2 hours for the 900 U.S.-based lawyers counted for purposes of the program. Latham & Watkins enlisted as its profits soared, but the firm’s pro bono work sagged, said Peter Gilhuly, who is chairman of the firm’s pro bono committee. “We have had enormous financial success,” Gilhuly said. “But we were not the best in pro bono.” Menlo Park litigation associate John Tang said the firm’s commitment to pro bono could be felt through the ranks. Pro bono committees in the offices often sent word out about projects. For his part, Tang, a fifth-year, supervises two more junior lawyers in New York in their defense of individuals seeking asylum in the United States. Lately, the team has defended a handful of Tibetan monks. “It’s important to set aside time for this other stuff,” said Tang.

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