This article is part of National Law Journal’s 2018 Pro Bono Hot List recognition package that celebrates law firms that do well by doing good. See the other stories here.
In the widespread chaos following President Donald Trump’s original travel ban, more than 20 Hogan Lovells attorneys fanned out to help foreign nationals at airports in New York, Virginia and California. Little did they know then that 18 months and two revised travel bans later, one of their own would be leading the constitutional showdown with the Trump administration in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Since partner Neal Katyal, with Hawaii’s attorney general, launched their legal attack on the first travel ban in March 2017, Katyal and an eight-lawyer Hogan team have been up and down the federal court pipeline multiple times.
“This was not an ordinary case,” said Katyal. “We kept arguing the case—and winning—and President Trump kept changing the ban and withdrawing these cases from the courts. So it’s not one case; it has been three separate ones.”
By the time Katyal stepped before the Supreme Court on April 25 for arguments in travel ban 3.0, he estimated his team had devoted nearly 10,000 hours to the high-stake challenge.
“Neal and his exceptional team have been instrumental in Hawaii’s ongoing efforts to fight the travel ban,” Hawaii Solicitor General Clyde Wadsworth said. “We very much appreciate their extraordinary and tireless work on this matter.”
Hogan’s pro bono efforts in 2017, however, did not rest on the travel ban litigation.
Dogged representation of Virginia prisoners since 2011 by Hogan’s April Wimberley and her team, along with The Virginian-Pilot newspaper, persuaded the state parole board that it was misinterpreting the state’s “three strikes” law. The board changed its policy and as of November, an estimated 200 inmates became parole eligible.
Partner Kathryn Ali headed a litigation team that in 2015 challenged Virginia’s solitary confinement of death row inmates. The state changed its policy but refused to make it permanent so Ali et al went back to court and won a landmark district court ruling that the policy violated the Eighth Amendment. “We’ve poured thousands of hours into this case and dozens have contributed their time,” she said.
The firm, she added, is using the Virginia case as a model for ongoing suits in Louisiana and South Carolina. The solitary confinement challenges are part of the firm’s expanded pro bono representation of death row inmates in Arkansas, Nebraska, Florida, Texas and Arizona.
And over on the civil side, partner Ira Feinberg argued and won a preliminary injunction reopening voter registration for more than 8,000 people in a Georgia congressional runoff election.
All told, the firm committed more than 100,000 hours to pro bono matters at home last year.