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“Public Counsel relies on the talents and dedication of major law firms and top attorneys to fulfill our mission of ensuring access to justice for underserved communities. We are grateful to our friends at Irell & Manella for establishing Public Counsel’s first-ever endowed chairand for empowering attorneys to dedicate their talents to address the areas in our community where justice is in greatest doubt.” – Hernán Vera, President and CEO of Public Counsel

Community Involvement

Irell & Manella is committed to supporting many community organizations throughout Southern California and nationwide. The firm's attorneys and staff engage in a wide variety of public service activities, including funding research institutions and scholarship programs, sponsoring nonprofit events, nonprofit board leadership positions and participating in volunteer work.

City of Hope's Irell & Manella School of Biological Sciences

Irell & Manella's relationship with City of Hope, one of America's preeminent research and treatment centers, began in 1998 when the firm started representing City of Hope in a landmark intellectual property lawsuit. Before long, the firm's passion for City of Hope's case evolved into a passion for its cause. In 2002, Irell & Manella began expanding the relationship with City of Hope by making gifts in support of the graduate school's endowment and also establishing a symposium and a lecture fund. Individual lawyers also made gifts for the school's endowment and the firm's staff took on the cause, making quilts on their own time for City of Hope patients undergoing painful treatment. Then the firm started to consider doing something bigger and more unsual. The idea emerged to make a major grant to the graduate school. This ultimately took the form of a $5 million donation, which was matched by a $5 million anonymous gift. An additional gift of $2 million created the Irell & Manella Visiting Professorship. The firm also donated $3 million to establish the Irell & Manella Cancer Director's Distinguished Chair. On May 15, 2009, City of Hope named its graduate school the Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences. For more information on this unique relationship, please click here.

Public Counsel's Irell & Manella Chair in Public Interest Law

In 2012, Irell & Manella established the first-ever endowed chair for Public Counsel, the nation’s largest pro bono law firm. Paul Freese, vice president of Public Counsel, currently serves as the Irell & Manella Chair in Public Interest Law. Public Counsel's activities are far-ranging and impact the lives of people living at or below the poverty level, support the growth of nonprofits and small businesses, and affect public policy through litigation and advocacy. Public Counsel’s attorneys are active in, among others, veterans’ advocacy, homelessness prevention law, children’s rights, immigrants’ rights, appellate law and federal pro se. For more, please see Public Counsel's website.

Irell is a committed provider of pro bono legal services and has a long record of support for the activities of Public Counsel. Partner Morgan Chu is the longest-serving board member at Public Counsel. Irell associates and partners are currently handling numerous pro bono matters through Public Counsel for various clients in need, including mortgage fraud victims and veterans.

Additional Charitable Giving

Irell & Manella established the Irell & Manella Foundation through which the firm donates to a variety of causes and endows a number of educational institutions, including:

  • Public Counsel's Irell & Manella Chair in Public Interest Law
  • Columbia University Law School's leadership prize for first-year law students
  • UCLA Law School's Lawrence E. Irell Prize
  • USC Law School's Arthur Manella Prize Fund

In addition to the foundation, the firm's Outreach Committee organizes a number of giving and fundraising events throughout the year, including bake sales, raffles, food and school supplies drives, and participation in the American Cancer Society's daffodil days.

Irell staff members and attorneys also volunteer with a number of local charity organizations, including Food from the Bar, Adopt-A-Family and Habitat for Humanity.

Community Leadership

Attorneys in the firm have for many years held senior leadership positions in many local and regional non-profit, public-interest and legal organizations, as well as educational, cultural and art institutions, including:

Alliance for Children’s Rights:  protects the rights of impoverished and abused children and youth through free legal services and advocacy. Steve Marenberg currently serves as a member of the executive committee of the Board of Directors.

Antaeus Company:  a cooperative theater ensemble founded to empower the actor and to bring classical theater to Los Angeles. David Gindler currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Bet Tzedek Legal Services:  a non-profit organization that provides free, expert legal advice and representation to low-income residents of Los Angeles. Bruce Wessel serves on the Board.

Civil Justice Strategies Task Force:  analyzing the reasons for and potential solutions to the “justice gap” – the gap between the need for civil legal assistance by low- and moderate-income Californians and the resources available to meet that need. Michael Ermer currently serves on the task force. 

Coro Southern California: prepares individuals from diverse backgrounds to be leaders through hands-on, collaborative learning in public, private, and nonprofit settings. Bruce Wessel currently serves on the Board.

Friends of the Saban Free Clinic:  serves as a medical home for the underserved and those who are most vulnerable by providing comprehensive, dependable and affordable quality health care in a caring environment. Steve Marenberg currently serves on the Board of Directors.

Harvard Board of Overseers:  one of Harvard University's two governing boards. Morgan Chu currently serves on the Board.

Los Angeles Master Chorale:  one of the city’s cultural treasures and one of the world’s premier choruses. David Gindler currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Los Angeles Philharmonic Association:  performs, presents, and promotes music in its varied forms at the highest level of excellence to a diverse and large audience. David Gindler currently serves on the Board of Directors.

Milton Marks "Little Hoover" Commission on California State Government Organization and Economy:  investigates state government operations and promotes efficiency, economy and improved service. David Schwarz currently serves as Vice-Chairman.

National Institute for Trial Advocacy:  provides legal advocacy skills training. Jonathan Kagan currently serves on the Editorial Advisory Board.

Public Counsel:  the largest pro bono law office in the nation. Morgan Chu currently serves on the Board of Directors and its executive committee. 

Public Law Center:  Orange County's primary pro bono law firm. Michael Ermer currently serves on the Board of Directors. Rebecca Carson currently serves as a member of Public Law Center's Young Professionals Group.

Sage Hill School:  Orange County's only non-profit, non-sectarian, independent college preparatory high school. Andra B. Greene currently serves on the Board of Trustees.

Stanford Board of Visitors:  plays an important role in helping the dean of the law school respond to particular challenges facing legal education. Kyle Kawakami currently serves on the Board. 

UC Irvine School of Law Board of Visitors:  advisory board to the law school. Andra B. Greene currently serves on the Board. 

UCLA Center for Jewish Studies:  a leading research center for the study of Jewish culture and civilization in California and one of the largest and most active centers in the world. Milton Hyman currently serves on the Board.

Washington Institute for Near East Policy:  advances a balanced and realistic understanding of American interests in the Middle East and promotes the policies that secure them. David Schwarz currently serves as a Trustee.

Women's Leadership Council of Brown University:  promotes women’s philanthropy, volunteerism, and mentoring. Andra B. Greene currently serves on the Council.