Bryan Cave

Pro Bono

Bryan Cave strongly encourages all of our lawyers to engage in pro bono work. These matters are treated with the same care as any other we take on, and the service provided to our pro bono clients is the same quality delivered to all firm clients. Our priority is to offer legal services benefiting persons and organizations of limited means, and to advocate for civil rights, human rights, civil liberties and public rights. We want the firm’s pro bono program to benefit our communities, enrich the professional lives of lawyers and staff and establish Bryan Cave as preeminent in providing pro bono services. Regardless of professional prominence or workload, pro bono work is a professional responsibility and can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the life of a lawyer.
 
Bryan Cave is a charter signatory to the Pro Bono Institute's Law Firm Pro Bono ChallengeSM, a unique global aspirational pro bono standard. Developed by law firm leaders and corporate general counsel, the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge articulates a single, unitary standard for the world's largest law firms. Charter signatories acknowledge their institutional, firmwide commitment to provide pro bono legal services to low income and disadvantaged individuals and families and non-profit groups.

Bryan Cave’s firmwide policy and program, instituted in 2006, encourages everyone to build on our tradition of pro bono work and community service. We give full billable credit to associates and counsel for all pro bono hours, and have established a committee of partners and a group of local office coordinators who continue to look for exciting and challenging opportunities for pro bono work, focusing on serving clients of limited means.

The pro bono work done at Bryan Cave reflects the diverse and passionate interests of our lawyers. Our work includes civil rights and public rights law, asylum cases, child abduction matters, family law, health law, real estate issues, death penalty and other criminal cases, immigration issues, counseling charitable organizations and administration of justice. Referrals from local legal services agencies and work for non-profit organizations make up much of Bryan Cave’s pro bono time.

Select Pro Bono Matters

Bryan Cave has numerous pro bono projects of which to be proud. Some recent highlights of our work include:
  • Bryan Cave attorneys secured the release of Joshua Charles Kezer, 34, who spent nearly half his life in jail for a murder he did not commit.  The attorneys were instrumental in discovering new evidence proving the man’s innocence.  Kezer was convicted in the 1992 killing of a 19-year-old woman found shot to death in her car near Benton, MO.  Despite having no witnesses, no motive and no physical evidence, a jury convicted Kezer, then just 17, of the murder.  At Kezer’s request, a social worker began exploring the case and found evidentiary problems.  Through a referral from The American College of Trial Lawyer’s Access to Justice Committee, a Bryan Cave partner reviewed the file and took the case.  Unexpected help came from a former reserve deputy sheriff who always had problems with the case and re-opened it when he was elected sheriff.  The Innocence Project, a national organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people, was enlisted to help fund DNA testing.
  • In Chang v. United States et al., Bryan Cave attorneys represented a group of individuals swept up in a mass arrest during the 2002 World Bank/IMF protests in the District of Columbia.  The plaintiffs were located in Pershing Park when police formed a line and sealed the Park.  Everyone within the Park was then handcuffed, transported to detention facilities and held for up to 24 hours.  In July 2007, the U.S. District Court for D.C. denied defense motions for summary judgment, holding that the plaintiffs were arrested at the moment Pershing Park was encircled by police and no longer free to leave.  Bryan Cave lawyers deposed more than 60 people including several high ranking police officials.  In January 2008, defense attorneys conceded that there was not probable cause to arrest the group.  Our attorneys continue to seek injunctive relief and damages that will compensate their clients.  In the next year, the team expects to prepare dispositive motions and go to trial.
  • Bryan Cave attorneys won an appeal granting relief under the Federal International Child Abduction Remedies Act and the Hague Convention to a father who sought the return of his two children to Venezuela after they had been abducted by their mother.  During a trial before the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, the parties entered into a settlement agreement and subsequently enrolled the agreement in Illinois state court. When the mother later refused to comply with the agreement, Bryan Cave petitioned for relief.  After a full-day evidentiary hearing, the trial court held that the mother had fraudulently entered into the settlement and reinstated the case.  After resuming and completing the trial, the district court ordered the prompt return of the children. The Seventh Circuit later affirmed the trial court and rejected arguments that the Illinois state court order was entitled to full faith and credit and refused to abstain under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.
  • Bryan Cave attorneys in Washington, D.C., successfully represented four immigrants in a civil action against a consultant for "immigration consultant fraud" or "notario fraud”.  The groundbreaking case is the first suit of its kind brought in Maryland, Virginia, or the District of Columbia, and one of the first such suits brought nationally.  As a result of the action, the consultant agreed to entry of a confessed judgment, awarding $100,000 to the plaintiffs, and enjoins the consultant from future fraud or deception.  The ABA's Commission on Immigration and Bryan Cave later collaborated to establish the Fight Notario Fraud project, a referral service encouraging consumer protection litigators to work with immigration attorneys to bring pro bono cases against fraudulent consultants.  A new web resource encourages attorneys to bring cases modeled after this one in all fifty states and allows litigators to register their interest and receive referrals in their jurisdiction.
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