Pro Bono

Our Commitment to the Community In Which We Live and Work

 

Since our inception more than 50 years ago, Farella Braun + Martel has participated actively in our local communities.  The founding partners led by example and remain well known for their extensive contributions to the bar and non-profit organizations.  Through pro bono work, charitable giving and participation in charitable and civic organizations, we have strived to honor our core principle of giving back to the community.  This commitment continues unabated today.

 

Farella is a signatory to the Pro Bono Institute's Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge, a nationwide initiative involving law firms who have made an affirmative commitment to bill at least three percent of their total billings to pro bono matters annually.  Nearly every year, the firm has met or exceeded its commitment to the program.

 

Pro bono matters are treated like any other case in the office.  Farella does not limit the number of hours for which lawyers can receive credit for pro bono work, and associates are encouraged to further hone their advocacy and trial skills and serve our community by taking on pro bono opportunities.  As one Farella attorney observed, “My pro bono appellate work, which included an argument before the Ninth Circuit as an associate, not only provided me with a valuable experience, but great personal satisfaction from knowing I was helping someone who would otherwise have no access to legal assistance.”

 

Seeking Impactful Ways to Volunteer

 

Our recent pro bono efforts focus on defending unlawful detainer, civil rights and death penalty habeas corpus cases, including: 

  • Defending eviction cases for individuals who cannot afford counsel through the Justice & Diversity Center’s Right to Civil Counsel Program.
  • Filing amicus briefs on behalf of consumer and human rights organizations in the high-profile Viacom v. YouTube case.
  • Staffing the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Tuesday Night Clinic, which offers walk-in clients assistance with legal matters.
  • Taking on Ninth Circuit pro bono panel matters that have recently included summary judgment reversals in three different prisoner civil rights appeals, all which resulted in reported opinions that have advanced the rights of prisoners.
  • Filing an amicus brief on behalf of a coalition of advocacy groups opposing California’s Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage.
  • Representing indigent defendants pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act. Matters involve postal and identity theft, drug trafficking and assault. We also represent witnesses appearing before federal grand juries.
  • Assisting people seeking safety in the United States through the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Asylum Program. 
  • Representing the City of Sunnyvale in defending its Measure C gun safety ordinance.

Our Community Needs Us

 

Our commitments run deeper than pro bono efforts, because we know that community success requires involvement with and sponsorship of organizations that do good for others.  As a firm, we sponsor, through direct financial contributions, organizations ranging from legal service providers to entities involved with education, the environment and the arts. 

 

In 2012, we dedicated our 50th Anniversary to giving back to the community.  The year-long program included $500,000 in direct gifts and a volunteer challenge to our attorneys and staff.  By year end, more than 5,000 hours were volunteered at more than 75 non-profit organizations.  The following list outlines some of the programs that the firm supports annually:

  • ConnectEd – through our 50th Anniversary gift we created the Farella Braun + Martel Law & Justice Credit Recovery Curriculum at the Thurgood Marshall High School in Hunters’ Point district of San Francisco.  This program has been so successful that ConnectEd has launched the program at schools throughout California.
  • Rebuilding Together - every year, attorneys and staff participate in National Rebuilding Day, assuring that low-income families are able to live in warmth, safety and independence.
  • San Francisco and Marin Food Banks – these organizations received a 50th Anniversary gift from the firm, and throughout the year the entire firm takes part in various programs supporting the Food Bank.
  • Head Start Holiday Gift Program – each year the firm “adopts” a classroom and individuals purchase, wrap and deliver gifts to kids in need who may not otherwise enjoy a gift for the holidays.
  • Bar Association of San Francisco’s Food from the Bar Campaign – a team of individuals creates various programs within the firm that provide financial and other support.
  • One Warm Coat –this organization provides coats for individuals and families that could not otherwise afford a coat for the winter; the firm’s work with this group is led each year by one of the firm’s dedicated and passionate legal secretaries.

Notable Awards 

  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Keta Taylor Colby Award– Recipients Richard Robinson (2014) and Richard Van Duzer (2004)
  • Bar Association of San Francisco’s Justice & Diversity Center – Right To Civil Counsel Leader Award (2013)
  • Legal Aid of Marin – Marin Justice League honored Chris Locke (2103)
  • Anti-Defamation League – Doug Young received the Distinguished Jurisprudence Award (2012)
  • Bar Association of San Francisco’s Criminal Justice Section – Doug Young received the D. Lowell Jensen Award for Public Service (2012)
  • Center to Prevent Gun Violence (previously Legal Community Against Violence) – Farella was recognized for its “Outstanding Pro Bono Contribution” (2009, 2010)
  • Pro Bono Institute – Farella received recognition for its vigorous efforts and dedication to the community (2005)
  • Ninth Circuit – Jerome Braun received its highest accolade, John P. Frank Award (2005)
  • California State Bar / California Appellate Project – Award of Appreciation (early ‘90s) 
  • American Bar Association – Pro Bono Publico Award (early ‘90s)