Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, announced today that Scot Fishman has joined the firm's Los Angeles office as counsel and director of pro bono activities. Fishman comes to Manatt from Dewey & LeBoeuf where he served as director of pro bono for nearly five years.
Prior to his time at Dewey, Fishman launched and directed the pro bono program for one of Dewey's predecessor firms, LeBoeuf Lamb Greene & MacRae. In the space of one year, the firm's ranking on The American Lawyer's pro bono scorecard jumped from 85th to 28th, and by 2011, Dewey's rank jumped to fifth. Fishman was the recipient of The Legal Aid Society's 2009 Pro Bono Publico Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Counsel.
Fishman replaces Manatt partner Cristin Zeisler, the firm's outgoing director of pro bono activities, who is leaving the firm to pursue a doctorate in neurorehabilitation science and a new career relating to treatment and therapy for U.S. veterans and others who suffer from traumatic brain injury.
"Over the past several years, I've become very familiar with the varied range of pro bono programs at top law firms across the country. Manatt has designed - and embraced - such a unique and extraordinary model, supported by an amazingly committed partnership, that I had to jump on the opportunity to work with such a dedicated and dynamic group of lawyers," said Fishman. "Manatt's exceptional and innovative pro bono program betters peoples' lives every day, and I look forward to helping the lawyers carry on the work Cristin has set in motion."
Manatt is committed to promoting access to justice and annually devotes at least 3 percent of the firm's billable time and resources - more than 20,000 hours in 2011 alone - to hundreds of individuals and not-for-profit organizations unable to pay significant legal fees. Pro bono matters are afforded the same attention, staffing and resources as the firm's commercial matters, and are assigned the same weight and credit as billable matters. Last year, the firm was recognized with a remarkable 10 pro bono awards, including The American Lawyer Lifetime Achievement Award for partner Stanley Levy and the Legal Services for Children Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year award.
Among Manatt's life-changing work, the firm played a pivotal role in shepherding the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act through the California State Legislature. As a result, a landmark effort is now underway to study the impact of having counsel in cases involving basic human needs. As soon as the Shriver Act was passed, Manatt lawyers took the lead in developing a systematic approach to assigning and pursuing pro bono cases for the housing pilot program, and the firm took on a significant number of cases on behalf of low-income tenants facing eviction.
Additionally, Manatt partnered with Bet Tzedek to jointly create and grow the Holocaust Survivors Justice Network, the single largest coordinated pro bono effort in U.S. history, providing free legal services to Holocaust survivors seeking German Ghetto Work Reparations and related pensions. For survivors without legal representation, a high percentage of applications are denied. More than 100 law firms and corporate legal departments have delivered legal services to thousands of survivors through the network's unique pro bono legal clinic model. At the height of the project, clinics operated in 30 cities across the nation.
"Making a positive difference in our communities is one of Manatt's core values. The firm is deeply committed to pro bono," said William T. Quicksilver, Manatt's chief executive officer and managing partner. "When Cristin decided to explore new opportunities, we knew the search to replace her would not be an easy one and that choosing the right director would be vital to the future of our continued innovation in the space. We are extremely fortunate that someone of Scot's capabilities, energy and creativity was willing to move across the country to lead our program. We are confident that under Scot's experienced leadership our pro bono services will continue to set the industry standard."
At Dewey, Fishman increased average pro bono hourly commitments by 62 percent in his first year and followed that banner shift in mindset to obtain six consecutive years of increases. He expanded the firm's pro bono practice to include a full range of direct civil and criminal defense legal services, impact litigation, policy research, and transactional work.
Fishman serves as an adjunct lecturer at the University of Virginia School of Law, where he co-teaches a seminar regarding pro bono services at private law firms. He was invited to serve a three-year term on the Pro Bono and Legal Services Committee of the New York Bar Association and is also a member of the Association of Pro Bono Counsel.
Fishman is co-author of "Instilling a Commitment to Service: The Law Firm Pro Bono Seminar," which will be published in the 2013 edition of Southwestern Law School's Journal of Legal Education. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia and a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law.
About Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, is one of the nation's leading law firms, with offices strategically located in California (Los Angeles, Orange County, Palo Alto, San Francisco and Sacramento), New York (New York City and Albany) and Washington, D.C. The firm represents a sophisticated client base - including Fortune 500, middle-market and emerging companies - across a range of practice areas and industry sectors. For more information, visit www.manatt.com.