Crowell & Moring senior counsel Peter Work has logged more than 6,890 hours of pro bono work during the past 15 years. Much of that effort has been focused on cases and causes close to home, where he’s advocated on behalf of the city’s neediest residents and for reforms that would increase their access to justice.
One of his biggest victories last year took place far from a courtroom. Work has served as legal adviser to the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation for nearly three decades. The program, which offers tennis and other educational opportunities to young people from low-income communities, had historically bused students from east of the Anacostia River to a facility in Northwest Washington.
About a decade ago, Work said, the organization began planning a facility in Southeast Washington, but came up $2 million short of its $10 million goal. During the past two years, Work logged hundreds of hours with other Crowell attorneys trying to secure a tax credit that would make up the difference. They succeeded, and the new facility is under construction and slated to open in the fall.
Work’s pro bono representation has included working with the District of Columbia Office of the Attorney General on termination of parental rights cases, and working through the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs to secure access to affordable housing for individuals with disabilities.
This past year, he led a team of firm attorneys and lawyers with the Legal Counsel for the Elderly to draft reforms to the city’s tax-sale system, which they believe puts low-income residents at a disadvantage.
“I thought it was a really compelling situation, that while not that many people lose their homes…a very significant number have to pay a lot of money to redeem their homes,” he said.
At 72, Work said, he has made the transition in recent years to doing public service work almost exclusively. He’s also passing down that commitment to the firm’s next generation, overseeing younger attorneys taking on pro bono cases.
“I think that has value to the firm,” he said.