Real Commitments Affecting Real People
Whether we are fighting in the Supreme Court to prevent a drunken driver from being deported to Haiti or representing the family of a prisoner who died due to the lack of proper HIV care, our firm is committed to doing the right thing. Although the firm has established strong relationships with many legal service providers, we have developed several signature projects such as the Eviction Defense Program. These projects are coordinated by firm lawyers who are responsible for recruiting and training new volunteer lawyers. Attorneys are also encouraged to bring in pro bono matters of interest to them that meet eligibility requirements and pass conflicts checks.
Putting Our Money Where Our Mouth Is
Actions speak louder than words. King & Spalding provides in-house trainings and pays for continuing legal education seminars relevant to our pro bono work held outside the firm. More than half of our attorneys commit time to pro bono projects. The firm encourages pro bono work by giving billable hour credit for up to 100 hours, which counts in our associate bonus program. Lawyers, who contribute at least 50 pro bono hours in a year, are honored with a Pro Bono Service Award. Each office has a Pro Bono Committee with partners and associates, who are responsible for overseeing that office’s pro bono activities. Special pro bono programs are presented during new associate orientation in the fall, and new associates are invited to sign up for specific pro bono activities.
Josue Leocal, a U.S. permanent resident who was born in Haiti, was in danger of being deported for a drunk driving charge resulting in bodily injury. Leocal faced the possibility of being separated from his family. King & Spalding argued this was not a "crime of violence," and therefore it was not an “aggravated felony” that would serve as a reason for deportation. The Supreme Court agreed with a 9-0 decision, allowing Leocal to reunite with his family. The firm also represented Robert Johnson, Jr. in briefing and argument before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the appropriate interpretation of the one-year limitations period under the federal habeas corpus statute. Firm attorneys argued Johnson’s case before the Eleventh Circuit, which issued a split panel opinion.
When Georgia’s Lee Arrendale State Prison failed to supervise inmates to prevent rape and violent assaults, King & Spalding stepped in. The prison also failed to adequately staff units where young inmates were housed with adults, and it failed to repair and maintain cell door locks, creating a dangerous situation. The firm represented all incarcerated inmates in a class action suit. With co-counsel, Southern Center for Human Rights, the firm filed a motion, which resulted in the Department of Corrections agreeing to remove the older adult males from the prison and provide additional protection for juveniles and young adults.
We have represented indigent tenants in semi-weekly eviction proceedings, resulting in agreements satisfactory in about 90 percent of the cases. Over 100 litigators and transactional attorneys have participated in this project since 2001.
The firm advised the National Transitional Government of Liberia in becoming a signatory to more than 80 international legal instruments including treaties pertaining to the environment, foreign investment, human rights and terrorism, and the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center on human rights issues. In addition, the firm established a King & Spalding Fellowship at the Southern Center for Human Rights, a prominent nationally recognized program which provides pro bono representation for indigents in the criminal justice system. The fellowship was funded in part by attorneys’ fees awarded to the firm in civil rights actions against prison officials and in other pro bono litigation.