Pro Bono Experience

A snapshot of our pro bono work

At Dechert, we have a big tent approach to pro bono work. We strive to find projects that make a difference in our communities and match the interests and skill sets of our lawyers. Some of the major substantive areas in which we advocate on behalf of our pro bono clients include civil rights, criminal, death penalty, family law, human rights, immigration, landlord/tenant, nonprofit and charity advice, prisoners’ rights, public benefits, special education, veterans and voting rights.

Promoting human rights around the world

In partnership with Oxfam GB, Dechert leads a pro bono research project in Africa called “Raising Her Voice.” Our lawyers coordinate with volunteers from other firms and chambers to undertake a legal analysis of the state of implementation of the Maputo Protocol, a bill of rights for women developed by African leaders. Among other rights, the Protocol guarantees women the right to take part in political processes, enjoy social and political equality with men, and control of their reproductive health. The ultimate goal is to expand the research to all 36 ratifying countries and to publish the reports on International Women’s Day to help ensure that the rights enshrined in the Protocol are concretely implemented in all jurisdictions.

Providing educational stability for children with autism

A team in our Philadelphia office successfully represented parents of children with autism challenging the school district’s process of transferring these students to different schools without parental input or adequate notice. A court held that the procedure violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, noting that an unplanned transition for children with autism is likely to have a negative impact on their learning. 

Expanding social impact investment around the world

Social impact investing — the utilization of private investment capital as a resource for creating social change — has emerged in the 21st century as a revolutionary approach to philanthropy. Investments are made in companies, organizations and funds with the intent to generate measurable social or environmental impact, alongside a financial return. Our lawyers have negotiated the terms of many such investments and established several social investment funds around the world. The infusion of money from these deals has backed the creation of innovative projects, such as remote medical services for the rural poor in India, and an employment initiative for women garment makers in Liberia.

Helping an Alzheimer’s patient escape violence in Iraq

Through our longstanding partnership with The List Project, we represented a 73-year-old Iraqi man, father of another Dechert client (an Iraqi who worked as a translator for a U.S. military contractor in Iraq and received asylum in the United States in 2010 with our assistance). After the father was assaulted in Iraq and his life and his son’s life threatened, we successfully expedited his resettlement case. Our client was reunited with his son in Virginia, where he is receiving treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.