Describe your firm’s philosophy on pro bono service.
With privilege comes great responsibility. That responsibility is rooted in a mission of broad and deep service to the communities that have been instrumental to our success. We have a long history of commitment to pro bono legal service, public service and community involvement. Our commitment to pro bono service is as critical to the firm’s institutional character as is our successful representation of paying clients.
Of the big cases your firm recently worked on, Jones Day lawyers tried a case to verdict on behalf of a young Ethiopian woman trafficked by a U.S. State Department employee. That was one of the first civil TVPA cases to be tried to verdict in the U.S. Tell us more about the case and how you reached the outcome.
Sarah was a live-in housekeeper for a former State Department employee and her husband, the Howards. The Howards targeted Sarah when they met her on Embassy grounds. When they finally lured her into their household, Sarah was sexually assaulted and raped for nearly seven months, all while being told that this was part of her job and threatened into silence. Sarah eventually escaped the Howards’ home, and after many years, filed suit. We conducted interviews and an investigation, which culminated in a five-day trial where we called Sarah, two other fact witnesses, and an expert on human trafficking. The jury returned the favorable verdict, which we successfully defended in the Fourth Circuit a year later.
What was the most satisfying aspect of that key case?
The moment our client realized she had gotten justice against her abuser. Throughout the entire trial, Sarah had been publicly reliving an incredibly traumatic experience; she was exposed and vulnerable. When the jury returned with the verdict, she did not immediately understand. We then looked her in the eye and told her, “You won.” Her eyes filled up with tears and she said, “They believed me?”
Discuss other key pro bono matters recently completed by the firm.
In December 2018, we won asylum for a married couple who are former police officers from El Salvador marked for death by the Mara 18 and MS-13 gangs. The husband disrupted a prison smuggling scheme and his wife provided evidence leading to the conviction of a gang member for murder. As community leaders, both openly and actively opposed gang violence. They fled after receiving death threats from the gangs. We won asylum for both clients after more than 20 months of asylum proceedings, including detention proceedings, motions for bond, transfer of venue and consolidation, and a joint asylum trial. DHS waived appeal. Our clients are now free and safe.
Why does your pro bono work matter to you as a lawyer?
As lawyers who believe in justice and rule of law, and typically represent institutions that often have the best of everything, pro bono gives us the chance to deploy those same resources on behalf of individuals who often have nothing. Ensuring that we work identically for all clients, regardless of income, influence or resources, feeds the soul of people who care deeply about principles of justice and rule of law.
Responses submitted by Laura K. Tuell, firmwide head of pro bono at Jones Day.