Pro bono work is an important and rewarding part of our profession. As a firm, we are proud of and support the work our lawyers do on behalf of those in need.
Irell & Manella is a signatory to the American Bar Association's Pro Bono Challenge, reinforcing our firm-wide commitment to provide pro bono legal services to low-income and disadvantaged individuals and families as well as nonprofit groups. For additional information about the Pro Bono Challenge, please click here.
“Irell associates receive full billable credit for pro bono hours. We take on new pro bono matters each month and provide them with the same level of excellence – the same level of attention, dedication and creativity – as we do for our paying clients.” – Michael Ermer, Irell & Manella Pro Bono Chair
Recent Pro Bono Matters
Recent pro bono matters that the firm has handled include:
- Together with the ACLU of Southern California and Dean Erwin Chermerinsky of U.C. Irvine Law School, secured a major victory on behalf of the homeless community in a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Laguna Beach and its police department, challenging the constitutionality of the city's anti-camping ordinance.
- In connection with the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project and Loyola Law School, representing Iraqi refugees in life or death situations in the Middle East in connection with resettlement applications.
- Together with both AMVETS and the Inner City Law Center, representing military personnel and Veterans in connection with matters relating to VA benefits appeals, discharge upgrades, traumatic service group life insurance appeals and issues arising under the Service Members Civil Relief Act.
- Representing a number of individuals who were victims of mortgage foreclosure-rescue scams.
- Successfully obtained lawful permanent residency for a young Chinese girl who was a victim of child trafficking.
- Representation of L.A. County's homeless in an action against L.A. County and several major slumlords of single-room occupancy hotels.
- Secured over $265,000 for nine garment workers who sought to recover unpaid wages and penalties in an administrative proceeding before the California Labor Commissioner.
- In connection with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal Pro Bono Program, working to keep a family together by representing two members as petitioners in an immigration proceeding on appeal.
- Filed an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of nine states and Puerto Rico challenging a California law and preserving the First Amendment.
- Argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of an individual indicted for and convicted of federal wire fraud for allegedly plotting to defraud the Canadian government of tax revenue.
- Represented an elderly individual who suffered financial abuse at the hands of fraudulent and deceptive estate planning organizations.
- Represented two high school students against the Orange Unified School District concerning the students’ right to form a gay-straight alliance club. In a ruling of national importance, the court held under the Equal Access Act that the students had a federally protected right to assemble.
- Represented an 83-year old mother of five children and four foster children, who was the victim of financial elder abuse by her grandson.
- Took a leading role in preventing the City of Santa Ana from shutting down a Catholic Worker House homeless shelter.
- Assisted the Thai Community Development Center with an investigation of alleged illegal human trafficking of Thai national workers.
- Assisted Bright Star Schools, a local nonprofit organization that operates charter schools serving underprivileged students, in the foundation of a new high school.
- At the request of the California Supreme Court, represented a death row inmate and obtained a summary judgment ruling that he had been denied his Sixth Amendment right to self-representation. This was the first time since the reinstatement of the death penalty in California that a capital conviction was overturned in toto by a federal district court.
- Represented two immigrants in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. After filing our opening brief, the Department of Homeland Security stipulated that our position was correct and the case should be remanded to be decided under the proper legal standard.
- Represented an artist in a successful claim under the Visual Artists Rights Act to prevent the modification of an artwork created by the artist.
In connection with the Alliance for Children's Rights, Irell & Manella attorneys and summer associates participate in the annual Adoption Saturday program that joins people together to help children's dreams of a permanent family come true in a single, special day.
Leading up to the official adoption day, individual attorneys and prominent law firms like Irell volunteer their services to adoptive parents. The attorneys work with child welfare workers to help fast-track paperwork. Judicial Officers and the entire courtroom staff open a courthouse on a Saturday just to handle adoption proceedings. Community volunteers donate time and gifts to create a festive atmosphere that makes the day even more memorable for young and old.
For more on Adoption Saturday, please click here.
Awards & Recognition
The firm and our attorneys are frequently recognized for their commitment to pro bono. Recent awards include:
- 2013 Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year award presented by the Century City Bar Association to Irell & Manella in honor of the thousands of hours the firm dedicated to pro bono legal representation in 2012, and the firm's new pro bono initiative.
- 2012 Appellate Law Program Pro Bono of the Year award presented by Public Counsel to Michael Strub for their representation of the plaintiff and appellant in a housing discrimination case in the Second District Court of Appeal.
- 2011 Law Firm Pro Bono Award presented by Public Counsel to Irell & Manella for providing those in need with access to justice.
- 2011 Volunteer of the Year award presented by the Constitutional Rights Foundation to Melissa McCormick.
- 2011 Humanitarian Award presented by the Inner City Law Center to Justice Carlos Moreno for advancing human rights, protecting civil liberties, and promoting social justice.
- 2011 Consumer Law Project Pro Bono Award presented by Public Counsel to Gregory Smith and Jonathan Steinberg, for their representation of a mortgage-fraud victim in the California Court of Appeal.
- 2010 Social Justice Award presented by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California to Irell & Manella for securing a major victory on behalf of the homeless community in Laguna Beach, California in Sipprelle v. City of Laguna Beach.
- 2008 Consumer Law Project Advocates of the Year award presented by Public Counsel to David Schwarz and Joel Sayres for their representation of an 83-year old mother of five children and four foster children, who was the victim of financial elder abuse by her grandson.
- 2006 Commitment to Justice Award presented by Bet Tzedek to Irell & Manella.
- 2006 Pro Bono Achievement Award presented by the Los Angeles Daily Journal to Irell & Manella for our representation of the NRDC and a coalition of environmental organizations in a suit filed against the U.S. Navy.
- 2004 Flag Bearer Award presented by Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) to Irell & Manella for our critical work with PFLAG in preparing an amicus brief in Lawrence v. Texas.
- 2003 Community Spirit Award presented by The Serra Project to Irell & Manella for our commitment and service to The Serra Project, a non-profit offering supportive services and housing to HIV/AIDS-impacted families.
Irell partners with a number of local and national public-interest and legal aid organizations, including:
- American Civil Liberties Union
- Alliance for Children's Rights
- AMVETS Legal Clinic
- Anti-Defamation League
- Bet Tzedek
- Bet Tzedek Holocaust Survivors Justice Network
- Constitutional Rights Foundation
- Inner City Law Center
- Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project
- Kids In Need of Defense
- Lambda Legal
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Pro Bono Program
- Public Counsel Law Center
- Public Law Center
- Western Center on Law and Poverty
We would like to thank our clients for their continued support throughout the years. Without you, our significant pro bono program and accomplishments would not be possible.