Ropes & Gray Named to National Law Journal’s Pro Bono Hot List

Rankings & Awards
January 12, 2012
The National Law Journal has selected Ropes & Gray as one of 10 law firms in the country named to its 2011 Pro Bono Hot List. This year the list highlights 10 firms that “haven’t forgotten their professional obligations even – especially – during hard times. Often, at considerable expense or risk to themselves.” 

An article published on Jan. 2, titled “Defender found the audacity to end a stalemate” features Washington, D.C.-based government enforcement partner Steve Braga and his role in freeing Damien Echols from death row in the West Memphis Three case.

The article credits Braga’s “outside-the-box legal strategy” for the release of Echols and two other men wrongly convicted of the killings.

After Echols was convicted in 1994, and Braga took lead of the defense team in November 2010, he realized the case had reached a stalemate. As the National Law Journal reported, he asked himself “What is the middle ground between insistence on guilt by the prosecutors and insistence on innocence by the defendants?” and concluded: “The thing that seemed logical, the only safe harbor, was the Alford plea.” When the case was settled, even prosecutor Scott Ellington lauded Braga, calling him “probably one of the most eloquent lawyers I’ve ever met. [He] cut through all the posturing.”

Braga’s innovative solution in the West Memphis Three case illustrates the firm’s approach to pro bono. Ropes & Gray attorneys handle many types of pro bono cases including asylum, immigration, health care, housing, clinics and nonprofit assistance. The firm and its attorneys have been consistently recognized for pro bono work, including the Law Firm Pro Bono Award from the D.C. Bar in June 2011.