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Pro Bono

"The hallmark of the Firm is its dedication to the higher calling, that is, the lawyer's obligation to assume an active role in the pursuit of a just and ordered society, in helping to solve the emerging problems of social, economic and political importance and to serve the public as his or her client, as she or he would serve a full-paying client."

Bernard G. Segal, a founding partner of the Firm.

"I firmly believe that all lawyers have a duty to see to it that all professional colleagues pursue the goals of truth, fairness, civility and professionalism, and to engage meaningfully in public service as you define it from your own moral, religious or cultural code."

Ralph G. Wellington, who served as Chairman of the Firm from 1998 to 2010, in a speech he gave to University of Michigan law students.

From the time Schnader Harrison was founded in 1935 to today, one of the most distinguishing features of the Firm has been our commitment to pro bono and public service. Pro bono service is an integral part of our Firm heritage, and is reflected today in landmark litigation cases, in our leadership roles throughout the Firm’s resident communities, in the media, in the experiences that our associates have had, and in the awards and recognition that our lawyers have received, on both a local and national level.

Our commitment to pro bono is integral to the fabric of the Firm, and is institutionalized in a variety of ways, including:

10% of Time Credit. We allow any lawyer in the Firm to receive full credit toward his or her work expectations for matters devoted to pro bono, up to 10 percent of fee hours billed each year. For example, an associate billing 1,800 hours to fee matters in a given year may include up to 180 hours of pro bono time in meeting the billable hour goal. Pro bono service is regarded as a favorable factor in partnership evaluations.

3% ABA Commitment. As a Firm, we are a Signatory of the Pro Bono Institute Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge. As a Signatory of the Challenge, we pledge to devote at least 3 percent of our time on an annual basis to pro bono matters. This is the actual provision of legal services to the indigent, the disadvantaged, the needy, and the incarcerated, without compensation. This does not include serving on nonprofit boards, participating in bar associations, and being involved in our communities - all of which we also do.

Caton Village. Several years ago, we took on supporting a halfway house for women recovering from substance abuse and their children. This home, called Caton Village, has become part of our Firm family. Adoption of Caton Village was driven by both lawyers, who operate a monthly legal clinic, and staff, who conduct educational and social activities with the mothers and children. Our continued involvement with Caton Village is motivated by the public service ethic we have established in the Firm.

Earl G. Harrison Pro Bono Award. Yet another way of institutionalizing our pro bono commitment is that we annually honor someone with the Earl G. Harrison Pro Bono Award. This award is presented at a major Firm event each year.

We are very proud of our pro bono record, and we encourage you to read on!