“I always wanted to be a lawyer so that I could help people... We’re really privileged to be at this firm where we are able to do systemic change work throughout the state and throughout the country around accessing justice for low-income litigants.”
“I’m focused now on making sure that survivors and nonprofits that work most closely with survivors are aware of the change in the law and that they can use it to remove some of those barriers that are holding them back.”
"There are incredible opportunities to be had both substantively, in various areas of law, and also professionally, to develop a wide variety of skills as a lawyer and to do good for the community while working on these cases."
“I think one of the great aspects of the Pro Bono Program is that it enables attorneys, sometimes even at more junior levels, to take a real leadership role in their cases.”
Bob PopeoMintz Chairman
Changing the Narrative
Legal challenges can be life-changing. Having capable legal counsel can make the difference. Our pro bono team has stood with individuals, families, and communities throughout the United States in their pursuit of justice and a better life.
For three years, a pro bono team of New York attorneys and staff represented a Honduran family of five in an asylum case, ultimately securing a rare stipulation from the government granting all of them asylum — without an evidentiary hearing. While working on the family’s asylum application, the team helped them obtain work authorizations and psychological health services, navigate the school application process, and secure other needed services. In an interview, Associate Amanda Asaro discusses her work leading the engagement, the high stakes for the family, and what the experience meant to her.
Our client Nikki Bell shares how her experience with prostitution and trafficking led her to found a survivor-led organization to help others in similar situations and how her work with Mintz has supported her on this journey. Her relationship with the firm began when a team of Mintz attorneys helped Nikki remove criminal convictions stemming from the time she was trafficked from her record. Nikki then worked with Mintz and The Equality Model in MA (EMMA) Coalition to draft pending Massachusetts legislation aimed at helping survivors find pathways outside prostitution. If enacted, the legislation would decriminalize prostitution for prostituted people while maintaining penalties for buyers and pimps.
Amid COVID-19-related economic challenges and a nationwide rise in discrimination and hate crimes against Asians, inbound calls to a legal clinic run by the Greater Boston Legal Services Asian Outreach Program doubled in a two-year period. Mintz teamed up with GBLS to organize a collaboration that identified and trained Mintz attorneys and professionals to screen clients for the clinic, which provides assistance on matters involving family violence, benefits, immigration, housing, and employment. Over an 18-month period, Mintz volunteers conducted 75 telephone intakes in Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, and sometimes English, identifying legal issues while lending an ear and providing support.
Under the Constitution, the government can’t take away someone’s liberty without establishing why it’s necessary. Nevertheless, thousands of immigrants across the United States are being detained in jails until they can show they shouldn’t be. Last year, Mintz partnered with the ACLU of Massachusetts to file and win a class action case on behalf of Gilberto Pereira Brito and two other immigrant detainees. In the ensuing months, Brito has been the foundation for obtaining the release of unjustly detained immigrants across New England. An appeal is currently pending in the First Circuit.
Amid nationwide protests against police brutality after a police officer killed George Floyd in May 2020, Mintz partnered with the Lawyers Clearinghouse to organize five Massachusetts Criminal Oﬀender Record Information (CORI) sealing clinics. Our attorneys and professionals helped clients navigate the complexities of sealing criminal records, enabling them to seek better housing and jobs. In another pro bono initiative inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, attorneys across the firm’s Health Law Practice conducted a research project for a Boston-based nonprofit focused on improving the health and well-being of vulnerable populations. The team gathered extensive data on how housing authorities around the country evaluate applicants with open criminal charges.
The day after President Trump signed his first travel ban, we learned that incoming travelers had been detained at Logan Airport. Pro Bono Chair Sue Finegan and a Mintz team including Immigration Practice Chair Susan Cohen responded immediately. They worked late into the night with the ACLU and immigrant advocates at Boston’s US District Courthouse to craft arguments for a temporary injunction. At 2 am, the judges ruled in their favor. The seven-day hold on the ban helped many travelers, and the team’s arguments were used across the country to extend restrictions on the ban.
Pro Bono Publications
Explore our annual pro bono publications to learn about more of our pro bono clients. The courage they display in their pursuit of better lives — for themselves, their families, and our communities — inspires us to do our best on their behalf.
This year, we’re excited to introduce a new, interactive format showcasing the incredible stories of some of the individuals, families, and nonprofit service agencies we have recently represented.
Each year, in our work for more than 300 pro bono clients, Mintz collaborates with legal services entities to represent individuals and families, counsels nonprofit organizations, and challenges inequities through landmark litigation. In our inaugural pro bono portfolio, we bring you some of the stories of clients who have faced discrimination, threats to their civil liberties, and other extraordinary hardships and of organizations dedicated to serving the most vulnerable among us.
Mintz represents hundreds of pro bono clients each year who face traumatic situations, systemic injustice, and deep-rooted societal barriers as well as many organizations that serve these populations. In this edition of the pro bono journal, we share the stories of how some of our clients have prevailed over extraordinary hardships and inequities to achieve transformational change.
Driving Innovative Programs and Solutions
Mintz has been instrumental in creating and promoting new collaborative partnerships to expand access to justice in our communities. These efforts are made possible through the firm’s long-standing pro bono partnerships.
Partnering with Our Clients
Mintz has partnered with our clients on pro bono projects for over a decade. In one such initiative, Mintz has collaborated with a number of partners to host the Clinic in a Box® pro bono workshops that train in-house lawyers to provide day-of pro bono service to nonprofits. Our partners have included Corporate Pro Bono, the Association of Corporate Counsel–Northeast, and Lawyers Clearinghouse. Over the course of nine years, Mintz has hosted almost 300 in-house lawyers at the annual clinic.
Access to Justice Commission and Fellows Program
Mintz has been at the forefront of promoting access to justice in Massachusetts. For several years, Pro Bono Committee Chair Sue Finegan has served as the co-chair of the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission with the Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The Commission provides leadership and vision on efforts to remove barriers to civil justice for low-income and disadvantaged people. As a notable example, the firm played a key role in launching the Access to Justice Fellows Program. Primarily the brainchild of Mintz Member Martha Koster and Sue, this innovative program pairs retired lawyers and judges with legal services organizations, nonprofits, and the courts. To date, 139 retired and retiring lawyers have devoted nearly 100,000 pro bono hours as part of the Fellows Program.
Appellate Assistance & Representation
In 2013, Mintz’s Sue Finegan co-chaired a Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission committee that eventually developed the Appellate Pro Bono Project. Mintz has worked closely with the Volunteer Lawyers Project to manage a weekly clinic for self-represented litigants at the Massachusetts Appeals Court, staffed by Mintz and other law firms. As of October 2019, over 300 attorneys from 20 different law firms have helped more than 700 low-income litigants navigate the civil appellate process.