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Ropes & Gray Earns Pro Bono Excellence Award from Lawyers Clearinghouse

Tags: Pro Bono

Legal services nonprofit Lawyers Clearinghouse has selected Ropes & Gray as the recipient of its 2021 Pro Bono Excellence Award, in recognition of the firm’s longstanding dedication to pro bono service and for its significant contributions in the creation and ongoing support of The COVID Relief Coalition. The Pro Bono Excellence Award is presented annually to legal professionals and firms that go above and beyond for their community.

Ropes & Gray director & pro bono counsel Roz Nasdor (Boston) accepted the award on behalf of the firm. She noted that by providing direct representation and partnering with human rights, legal reform, and other organizations, we can help impoverished individuals, underserved communities, nonprofits, and small businesses that might otherwise lack access to high quality legal services. 

“Public service commitment is a hallmark of the firm,” Roz said. “We believe that lawyers have an ethical and moral obligation to make sure that all deserving persons, regardless of income, have access to legal representation.”

Roz shared a few examples of the firm’s commitment to pro bono work:

  • Having previously served as general counsel at Ropes & Gray, Win Quayle (Boston) draws on his years of experience to help lighten the workload of Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) advocates, allowing CLF to do more with its limited staff and resources. He is a mentor and models the professionalism to which advocates aspire, offering advise on lobbying rules, building codes, research and writing, organization, and presentation.
  • Ropes & Gray associate Joshua Carroll (Boston) volunteers at the Massachusetts Legal Clinic for the Homeless, Rosie’s Place and, in conjunction with Lawyers Clearinghouse, represents underserved populations throughout the Boston area. He works on landlord/tenant disputes, criminal record sealings, and social security benefits cases, and represents asylum clients from around the world -- a welcome and rewarding challenge outside his day-to-day work in asset management.
  • A Ropes & Gray pro bono team helped The COVID Relief Coalition identify key issues affecting Boston-area nonprofits and small businesses and determine what emergency relief resources were available to mitigate hardships and contend with the unprecedented and unpredictable legal matters of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the team guided the Coalition’s pro bono clients through the application process of the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program and provided assistance on key considerations such as eligibility and debt forgiveness.

The Coalition has provided over 400 nonprofit organizations and small businesses with advice and full-scale representation to contend with unprecedented legal matters. Approximately 65% of the pro bono representations Ropes & Gray has taken through the Coalition have been for organizations led by women or people of color.

Christian Westra (Boston), a Ropes & Gray private equity partner who was instrumental in launching the Coalition in the early days of the pandemic said, “It has been especially rewarding to watch the Coalition serve as a model for similar relief organizations in other parts of the country, underscoring the influence and importance of pro bono contributions during a time of exceptional challenges for so many.” 

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