Buckley’s firmwide commitment to pro bono work is based on our core belief that all people are entitled to legal representation, and by performing this work, we are helping provide access to justice.
Buckley, a signatory to the Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge, has committed to performing pro bono hours equal to three percent of our total billable hours annually. To make this commitment a reality, the firm has a dedicated pro bono partner and pro bono committee who endeavor to identify pro bono opportunities that not only make a difference in our community, but also match the interests of our lawyers and offer them the chance to enhance their legal skills.
Our pro bono efforts focus on providing legal services to economically disadvantaged individuals as well as to nonprofit organizations in our surrounding communities and throughout the United States. We partner with more than a dozen legal service organizations that provide pro bono support for a wide range of clients, including immigrants, children, veterans, senior citizens, and the needy as well as those caught up in the criminal justice system.
By offering such easy access to pro bono assignments and by providing one-for-one billable hour credit for every hour worked on pro bono matters, we have seen steady continual growth both in the number of hours and participating attorneys, since the firm’s inception.
Recent pro bono matters include:
Precedent-setting victory in veteran’s case Our client developed service-disqualifying conditions while on active duty in the Air Force, but was denied retirement pay and benefits, as the Air Force argued that his injuries did not develop in the line of duty. The firm filed a complaint on our client’s behalf before the Court of Federal Claims in May 2019, and in November 2019, after multiple extensions, the government filed a motion to stay the proceedings and to remand the matter to the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records. In early March 2020, the court ordered a supplemental briefing and heard oral argument on the government’s motion for voluntary remand.
In June 2020, the court denied the government’s motion for remand. This is significant because, according to the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP), which referred the case to us, these types of matters are routinely remanded and never even get a hearing. This is an important victory for our client, as well as other servicemembers in his position. NVLSP was extremely pleased with the court’s decision and they have cited it in a number of other cases.
Children from Honduras receive legal permanent resident status After five long years, our lawyers won a significant victory in an immigration matter referred by Kids In Need of Defense (KIND). We represented two children from Honduras seeking legal permanent residency in the United States after being abandoned by their abusive father and facing kidnapping threats in their home country. Upon arrival in the U.S., our clients were immediately charged with unlawful entry and placed in removal proceedings.
Our team set to work on establishing their eligibility for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status as a defense to the removal proceedings and as a basis for obtaining legal permanent residency for them. In 2016, the team obtained an order in Maryland state court awarding sole custody of the children to their mother and terminating their father’s parental rights. With this order in hand, our team obtained approvals confirming that our clients were eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, but due to the large number of unaccompanied minors coming to the U.S. from Honduras, and changes to immigration policy and priorities following the change in administration, securing these visas and terminating the removal proceedings was a slow, uphill process. Finally, our team was able to file a motion to dismiss the removal proceedings in immigration court, which was granted in 2020. With their removal proceedings terminated, our clients (one of whom just graduated high school) can obtain employment authorization documents and proceed with finalizing their legal permanent resident status.
Compassionate release granted for terminally ill client Buckley won a favorable decision from the Northern District of Florida granting the compassionate release of a terminally ill federal prisoner. Our client pled guilty in 1994 to nonviolent major drug trafficking offenses and received a life sentence. At the time we filed our motion, our client was 78 years old and had served 26 years. He was recently diagnosed with stage IV prostate cancer. In April 2020, the team submitted a compassionate release petition to his warden on the grounds of his terminal illness as well as his age, other medical conditions, and time served. The required 30 days passed without any response. At the beginning of May, we moved forward, filing an emergency motion with the Florida sentencing court. The government strenuously opposed our motion, but the court ruled in our favor. Our client was subsequently released to his family.
Our greatest reward is achieving success for our clients, but over the years, Buckley has been recognized for its pro bono contributions including:
- Vault: Ranked #1 in Pro Bono
- The American Lawyer’s Pro Bono Scorecard: Top 50
- Washington Lawyers’ Committee’s Outstanding Achievement Award for:
- Public education
- Fair housing
- Exemplary work on the report “Protecting Civil Rights in the D.C. Region: A Comparative Assessment of State & Local Human Rights Laws”
- Law Students in Court’s Pro Bono Award
- District of Columbia Court of Appeals and Superior Court of the District of Columbia’s Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll
"Coercive process for material witnesses needs reform" by Preston Burton and Paige Ammons (Law360)
The material witness statute confers incredible power on the government to obtain the arrest and detention of a witness — even though that person is not accused of having committed any crime — simply by showing the court that the person is purportedly “material in a criminal proceeding” and that it...Articles
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Buckley Sandler’s Fundraising Efforts for Legal Aid Featured in the American Lawyer
Everyone has had a boss they wanted to pie in the face. But why get fired when you can do it for charity? On Thursday, the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia announced that it had raised $1.79 million as part of its 2017 Generous Associates Campaign , a fundraising drive launched each...In The News
Sasha Leonhardt Quoted in Hill Rag Article, “Pulling Them Back From the Brink”
Sasha Leonhardt was quoted on June 1, 2017 in a Hill Rag article, “Pulling Them Back From the Brink.” The article discussed the work of Legal Counsel for the Elderly (LCE), a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free legal and social work services to seniors in need. The article stated, “...In The News
Buckley Sandler Celebrates 2014 Pro Bono Work
On January 30, 2015, the firm held its annual Pro Bono Recognition Reception to recognize the dedication of our attorneys and paralegals to pro bono work throughout 2014. Joseph M. Kolar , chair of the firm’s pro bono committee and head of the Kolar Foundation of BuckleySandler , which focuses its...InfoBytes
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Buckley joins the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance
Buckley LLP joined the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance, a coalition of 120+ law firms that is committed to identifying and dismantling racism in society.
The LFAA will leverage the resources of the private bar to give voice to communities and individuals oppressed by racism; use the law as...Announcements
Buckley Sandler Receives 2017 Law Students in Court Celebration of Service Pro Bono Award
Law Students in Court (LSIC) awarded Buckley Sandler the 2017 Celebration of Service Pro Bono Award in recognition of the firm’s outstanding pro bono practice and the continued support by the Kolar Charitable Foundation of Buckley Sandler....Announcements
Buckley Sandler Receives Two Outstanding Achievement Awards for Pro Bono Work
Buckley Sandler is the recipient of two 2015 Outstanding Achievement Awards from the Washington Lawyers’ Committee (WLC). These awards were presented in recognition of the firm’s work with the WLC’s Fair Housing Project on Jeter v. Cash and Jenkins v. UFR and the report, “Protecting Civil Rights in...Press Releases
Buckley Sandler a Winner in Gifts for the Homeless' Battle of the Law Firm Bands Competition
Buckley Sandler is pleased to announce that our firm band, Total B/S, won the Discovery Stage at Gifts for the Homeless’ Battle of the Law Firm Bands competition. Winners were chosen based on fundraising efforts for Gifts for the Homeless, with Buckley Sandler raising $7,428, which included a $1,...Press Releases