Ropes & Gray Devotes 106,000 Hours to Pro Bono Work in 2014
More than 1,200 Ropes & Gray lawyers, paralegals and other professionals worldwide spent 106,000 hours assisting pro bono clients in 2014. These efforts helped clients address issues related to health, benefits, nonprofit administration, asylum, homelessness and ecological preservation, among other areas. Over 700 of the firm’s U.S. lawyers dedicated 20 hours or more to pro bono legal matters, up from approximately 600 in 2013. The firm’s strong commitment to pro bono work contributed to Ropes & Gray’s selection as a Law360 “Pro Bono Firm of the Year” for 2014.
Notable examples of Ropes & Gray’s 2014 pro bono efforts include:
- Aiding the launch of the Massachusetts Juvenile Justice Pay for Success Initiative, a landmark program aimed at reducing youth recidivism. Ropes & Gray worked with program developer Third Sector Capital Partners to launch the initiative, the largest of its kind ever undertaken in the United States. The collaboration earned Ropes & Gray and Third Sector Capital Partners recognition as “Partners of the Year” from the Boston Business Journal.
- Helping The Nature Conservancy negotiate debt-for-adaptation to climate change swaps, innovative financial structures designed to help preserve the world’s imperiled coastal areas.The American Lawyer honored this work by naming Ropes & Gray a Global Legal Award winner for “Global Pro Bono Deal of the Year, Environmental,” as well as a co-grand prize winner of the publication’s Global Citizenship Award.
- Working with Lambda Legal to file one of the first cases under the civil rights provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Based on Ropes & Gray’s papers, a Louisiana judge enjoined the three insurer defendants from refusing federal Ryan White premium assistance funds earmarked to help low-income people living with HIV secure health care. Apparently in direct response to the events in Louisiana, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) quickly published a rule requiring Qualified Health Plans, including those participating in the ACA exchanges, to accept Ryan White Funds and monies from other state and federal programs.
- Providing pro bono legal assistance directly to homeless men and women through the Massachusetts Legal Clinic for the Homeless, administered by Lawyer’s Clearinghouse. Through these clinics, firm attorneys and paralegals helped individuals with a range of legal issues, including those related to housing, Social Security benefits and record sealing.
- Expanding the firm’s partnership with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), a nonprofit organization that arranges pro bono legal representation for unaccompanied refugee and immigrant minors entering the United States.
- Representing New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) in successfully challenging the Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board’s decision to allow a town to tax a 120-acre parcel of protected conservation land purchased by NEFF. The appeal raised novel questions regarding whether land conservation constitutes a “charitable” purpose and how actively a conservation organization must “occupy” its protected lands in order to quality for tax-exempt status.
- Providing background information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that helped persuade the IRS to issue tax guidance that gives tax relief to persons contributing to efforts to aid Ebola victims in West Africa. The treatment of the affected area of West Africa as a “qualified disaster” under International Revenue Code § 139(c)(4) represented a novel application of the relief to a medical crisis.