Manatt Celebrates Pro Bono Week 2023

Manatt is proud to celebrate National Pro Bono Week 2023 and continue its deep commitment to ensuring that everyone retains the liberties and protections to which they are legally entitled.

In just this past year, the entire Manatt community—including attorneys, consultants and business professionals—has committed itself to pro bono initiatives across the country that both support systemic change and help on the individual level. This work includes:

  • Successfully challenging and overturning the adoption of a supervisorial district map in San Luis Obispo County that was designed to and did favor one political party over another, deferred and diluted the rights of voters registered with one political party, and interfered with established communities of interest in the County. After substantial litigation, the County agreed to enter into a settlement requiring the Board to set aside adoption of the Patten Map and to adopt a new district map that complies with the requirements of the FAIR MAPS Act and the California Constitution.

  • Working with the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), Public Counsel, the Law Office of Bryan Sells and the Law Office of Randy Seiler to help the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe in South Dakota achieve a landmark settlement with the Lyman County Board of Commissioners, including the appointment of an enrolled Lower Brule tribal member as County Commissioner, in a victory for Native American voting rights. The settlement marks the first time a tribal member will be able to vote on county decisions impacting the community.

  • Obtaining, in one of the most successful impact litigation cases brought against a federal prison for its systemic failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic, final approval of a settlement in a pro bono class action lawsuit brought against officials at Federal Correctional Complex Lompoc and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for violations of the Eighth Amendment. Manatt co-counseled the case with Bird Marella, the Prison Law Office and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California.

  • Helping people being persecuted for their gender, political beliefs, race and/or sexual orientation with their asylum applications, including:

    • An LGBTQIA+ Jamaican man after an eight-year process before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The asylum seeker—referred to as OW—fled his home country after a lifetime of physical and sexual abuse that culminated in threats to his life by his own law enforcement co-workers because of his sexual orientation.

    • ​​A single mother from Mexico who could not safely return to the country given that she had publicly spoken out about the Mexican government’s failures in stopping the criminal organization, prevailing in a hearing before the Santa Ana Immigration Court.
  • ​Filing amicus briefs for numerous high-profile cases, including on behalf of:

    • New York County Lawyers Association in United States v. Rahimi, which involves whether a person subject to a court-ordered domestic violence restraining order is prohibited from possessing a firearm. The first brief was filed in support of the United States of America’s petition for a writ of certiorari to review a decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit concluding that a federal law penalizing the possession of firearms by individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders violates the Second Amendment. Once writ was granted, Manatt filed a second amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to reverse the Fifth Circuit opinion.

    • The Family Violence Appellate Project in the successful appeal of a Parenting Plan that would have awarded joint decision-making over a child with a co-parent who had six prior convictions for domestic violence. Manatt successfully argued that a Washington statute precluded joint decision-making.

    • The California Women’s Law Center in support of a survivor of intimate partner violence in a case seeking appellate review of the trial court’s denial of her request for a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO). The California Court of Appeal overturned the denial and remanded for a new hearing on the DVRO and the survivor’s request for spousal support. The Court also granted Manatt’s request to publish the opinion, which now sets a valuable precedent for future survivors of domestic violence.

    • The National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project in an appeal from the Board of Immigration Appeals decision finding that a Honduran woman who fled an abusive and violent relationship in her home country was ineligible for asylum. In the brief, Manatt examined the social science research around intimate partner violence that explains physically leaving a residence shared with an abusive partner does not mean the survivor has successfully ended the relationship and that the woman faced increased violence or even death.

    • The Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute in:

    • Leading election-law expert UCLA Law Professor Richard L. Hasen, in the U.S. Supreme Court in Moore v. Harper. Manatt and Hasen's brief highlighted the major implications this case may have on voting rights, arguing that accepting the so-called “independent state legislature" theory advanced by petitioners would result in a flood of new federal election litigation and a legitimacy crisis for the federal judiciary, potentially paving the way for election subversion.

  • Successfully obtaining a three-year restraining order for a recently immigrated Armenian woman against her estranged husband in a complex case that involved issues of custody and visitation, child and spousal support, and preliminary property control. Manatt showed evidence of the years of abuse the client endured and secured an order of protection without needing the client to testify in court.

  • Participating a wide variety of virtual clinics, from providing pro bono representation to New Yorkers applying for rental assistance grants during a clinic with Legal Services NYC to assisting Afghans in the United States apply for asylum. Manatt’s virtual clinic program seeks to bring together attorneys and other professionals from all of our offices to work together to help persons in need across the country.

  • Advising Love, Vera—a consumer packaged goods brand led by minority founders—in the company’s efforts to gain access to resources and networks to raise investment capital, to which minority and women founders typically have disproportionately low access.  This engagement came out of our newly enacted pro bono policy for consultants.

  • Involving each of our summer associates and summer analysts in meaningful pro bono work, including a Day of Service during which, with the guidance from Safe Passage Project, they each interviewed a immigrant child to identify their legal pathways to live in the United States.

  • Assisting Spanish-speaking families seeking to finalize adoptions of children out of the foster care system in Los Angeles. In addition to finalizing adoptions, Manatt teams prepared and submitted a Benefits Inquiry to advocate for the adopting parent(s) to receive an increase in Adoption Assistance Program (AAP) funding based on the child's condition and needs, and to receive any retroactive AAP and/or Foster Care/ARC payments to which they are legally entitled.

  • Helping small businesses navigate a variety of issues ranging from run-of-the-mill corporate contracts, governance and business advisory services to intellectual property matters.  Manatt professionals also assisted small business owners through clinics designed to assist Latina business owners and copyright questions.

  • Partnering with human rights advocacy center ICAAD in sponsoring the creation of Dicta, an exploration of law and human rights in U.S. history through poetry created from Supreme Court decisions. Manatt hosted physical installations of the Dicta poetry in Los Angeles and New York where artist Harbani Ahuja spoke on the disconnect between the law and justice and noted the more nuanced and contested relationship between the law, the courts and the rights of marginalized communities.

The above efforts would not be possible without the guidance of Manatt’s various pro bono partners that are leading the way in helping communities navigate complex issues surrounding their identities, families and livelihoods. Some of the Firm’s long-standing pro bono partners include:

Learn more about Manatt’s Pro Bono practice here.


pursuant to New York DR 2-101(f)

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