Amazon Legal Pro Bono Report

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We Serve



Amazon lawyers and legal professionals have a long history of volunteer legal service. The Amazon legal department’s pro bono program, which formally launched in 2014, enables, encourages, and supports these efforts. The program started relatively small, with most volunteers based out of the company’s home base of Seattle.

Since then, hundreds of Amazonians working in dozens of countries across the globe have volunteered tens of thousands of hours of pro bono legal service — and the momentum continues to build.


We believe that providing legal services to those unable to pay is not just an ethical obligation for all lawyers and legal professionals. It gives Amazonians an opportunity to serve and learn about their communities in new and meaningful ways. That’s why I championed the formation of the Amazon legal department’s pro bono program in 2014, alongside a talented group of lawyers and legal professionals who shared my passion for this type of volunteerism. Today, the Amazon pro bono program aims to make it easy for our legal team members all over the world to provide pro bono services to communities and help more people access justice.

Since the program’s inception, over 700 Amazon attorneys and legal professionals across dozens of countries have volunteered more than 38,000 hours to over 35 partner organizations globally to assist those in need. In our pro bono report, you will find many examples of Amazon legal professionals and partners working together to provide access to legal services and meet critical needs. The report is comprised of numerous video and text testimonials that exemplify the ways in which our team members help improve youth literacy, support LGBTQIA communities, overturn wrongful convictions, champion rights of immigrants, safeguard voter participation, aid military veterans, and contribute meaningfully to numerous other causes.

I have had the opportunity and privilege to take on a number of pro bono matters in my career at Amazon, and my hope is that this report gives others a glimpse into how meaningful it is to participate in this work. I am so impressed with our Amazon legal team and the way we have scaled our pro bono work to make a difference not just in our headquarter communities but across the globe in so many different and creative ways. I am incredibly proud of the global program we have created and the hundreds of Amazon legal team members who continually contribute their time and talents to this meaningful pro bono work.



At Amazon, everything we do is guided by our Leadership Principles, including how we put the customer first in designing products and services and work to solve significant challenges at scale. These principles are equally important to the Amazon legal team as we strive to serve individuals and communities in need through our pro bono work. We believe lawyers and legal professionals have both a unique opportunity and responsibility to leverage our legal training and skills, and put into action one of Amazon’s newest principles,  Success and

Scale Bring Broad Responsibility , by doing better for the world at large.

We started in a garage, but we’re not there anymore. We are big, we impact the world, and we have not gotten everything perfect. We must be humble and thoughtful about even the secondary effects of our actions. Our local communities, planet, and future generations need us to do good every day. We are our own biggest self-critic and must begin each day with a determination to do even better and be even better for our customers, our employees, our partners, and the world at large in every imaginable area. We’re changing the world in a meaningful way and know we can do even more tomorrow. Our leaders are intentional to create more than they consume and always leave things better than they found them.

Contents Introduction Righting Wrongful Convictions Addressing Homelessness Championing the Rights of Immigrants and Refugees Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse Promoting Arts and Culture Safeguarding Voter Participation Teaching Constitutional and Civil Rights Helping Communities Thrive Improving Youth Literacy Assisting Adoptions Supporting LGBTQIA Communities Empowering People with Mental Disabilities Representing Victims of Domestic Violence Advancing Women’s Health Mentoring Young Legal Minds Aiding Military Veterans Preserving the Environment Reaching Out Globally Celebrating Pro Bono Awards & Acknowledgment 6 8 12 15 25 29 33 36 41 44 48 53 58 61 64 67 70 74 77 81 85
Providing legal services to those unable to pay is not just an ethical obligation, it gives us an opportunity to serve and learn about our community, and by extension our customers, in new and meaningful ways.
David A. Zapolsky Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary

Righting Wrongful Convictions


Innocent man sees daylight after 14 years of darkness in prison

In the dark box of a prison cell, tomorrows can feel just as dismal as yesterdays. West Virginia inmate Jason Lively knew that mood all too well until the day he took a phone call from his legal team that brightened his future. “You’re going to be let out,” his lawyer told him.

After a decade of appeals, state prosecutors had conceded to Lively’s motion to vacate his sentence. Soon after, a court found — at long last — that he had been wrongfully convicted 14 years earlier of firstdegree murder and first-degree arson.


Ajeet Pai, an Amazon attorney in Austin, Texas, was patched in. “That phone call was probably the high point of my legal career. To be part of delivering that news to someone who had been in solitary confinement the majority of his adult life, it was enormous.”

In helping research facts and prepare a habeas petition, Pai got to hear from Lively firsthand the dashed dreams of a young man who wanted to study environmental management and work in the forests as opposed to settling for a life of hard labor in the coalmines of his home state. “Here was a bright, articulate, humble guy who had a future ahead of him when all of this happened,” Pai recalled. “It was really very moving to hear his story and be able to relay it through a narrative that could help him.”

Andrew George, a partner with Baker Botts LLP in Washington, D.C., and the lead litigator in Lively’s exoneration case, preserves the memory of his client entering the courtroom in full body irons one final time before the judge agreed that Lively indeed was innocent and ordered his release. The Lively case is the acme of a partnership between

Baker Botts and Amazon that began in 2017 when George and law partner Jamie Lynn reached out to Pai — who they both knew — to see if Amazon would be interested in building on its pro bono portfolio by working on innocence cases. “When I told Jason that Amazon was cocounseling on his case, I had to explain what Amazon was because he had been locked up for so long,” George recalled, “He said, ‘Oh yeah, is that the online bookstore?’ He didn’t realize what Amazon had become.”

Thankful for the support from Baker Botts and Amazon, Lively expressed his gratitude in a heartfelt, heart-wrenching video where he lets his tears flow. “How do you say ‘thank you’ to somebody that has given you your family, your sister, your brother, your kids, your wife, your mother? That’s what they gave me. They gave me a future. Not only that, they continue to look out for me, for nothing. For nothing! They treated me that good.”

Pai is one of about 120 Amazon attorneys and legal professionals across 14 countries who have spent hundreds of hours screening, evaluating,

and litigating wrongful conviction cases. The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project (MAIP), which works on behalf of wrongfully accused people in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, presented Amazon its Defender of Innocence award in 2022, extolling the company for devoting more people to the project’s work than any other corporate or private law firm. “The background work they do — digging through records, developing timelines, laying out the cast of characters for us to interview — these are the things that help alleviate the workload on our own lawyers and allow us to actually tackle the volume of cases we have,” said Shawn Armbrust, MAIP executive director.

Najib Saïl, an attorney at Amazon France and head of the European pro bono taskforce, accepted the award on behalf of Amazon, signifying the international scope of the volunteer effort. He shared the stage with more than 20 exonerees who had spent over 600 combined years behind bars. “Behind this work, there are human beings,” said Saïl, recalling the moment. “It was my honor to say thank you to them.”

“Amazon’s attorneys and legal professionals recognize that we have unique skills that can help ensure that members of our communities have access to justice.
Kathy Sheehan Global Co-Head of Pro Bono at Amazon

Addressing Homelessness

Legal clinics clear the way for families in temporary shelter to become housed

Over the years, Amazon has formed an exceptional philanthropic relationship with Mary’s Place , a nonprofit that offers emergency shelter and outreach services to families experiencing homelessness in the Seattle area. Since 2016, Amazon has donated space in properties it owns to house a Mary’s Place-run family shelter — the most recent being an ultra-modern, eight-floor facility inside an office tower at corporate headquarters. With capacity for over 200 guests, it is the largest facility of its kind in the state of Washington and includes a medical clinic, daycare, and other services to support families in transition.



Since 2018, Amazon legal team members have met regularly with guests of Mary’s Place — either in person or virtually — to help them progress toward the goal of securing permanent housing for their families. Legal clinics, hosted with K&L Gates LLP and the King County Bar Association , help guests resolve a variety of barriers that stand in the way of their becoming housed, such as past housing debt, a previous eviction, and other blotches on credit and rental histories that can give pause to prospective landlords. Amazon’s legal counsel also supports guests of Mary’s Place in other areas of need, including restraining orders, as some have lost their housing as a result of fleeing domestic violence.

“Amazon’s partnership with Mary’s Place allows our attorneys to help guests and their families as they face the terrible trauma of housing insecurity,” said Yousri Omar, an Amazon attorney who has been involved with Mary’s Place since the relationship began. “For many, navigating the legal system is daunting, but knowing that you have an advocate on your side makes all the difference

in the world. We take that responsibility seriously and it is an immense source of pride for me personally and the legal department as a whole that we can do our part to help meet this unrelenting need in our city.”

During 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the legal team provided over 700 hours of pro bono legal services to guests of Mary’s Place. Prior to the pandemic, each in-person monthly legal clinic would assist 20 to 30 guests. Since moving to a virtual platform, the clinics operate weekly and serve about five guests per session. Amazon and K&L Gates received the 2020 Corporate Pro Bono Partner Award from the Pro Bono Institute for the project, which is ongoing.

In addition to serving the guests of Mary’s Place, Amazon lawyers advise the nonprofit on a variety of legal matters related to operations, such as real estate, tax, and labor.

For many, navigating the legal system is daunting, but knowing that you have an advocate on your side makes all the difference …

Championing the Rights of Immigrants and Refugees

Legal advocates navigate migrant children away from danger

Children fleeing war, violence, and persecution in their home countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras arrive alone at the U.S.Mexico border with little to proffer but their hopes of finding someone — anyone — to be their advocate. Taken into custody, they face the same deportation process as an adult. Without adequate legal counsel to assist them through the complexity of the U.S. immigration system, these children are at risk of being sent back to the conditions they left behind.


More than 180 lawyers and legal professionals from Amazon, Audible, and Davis Wright Tremaine LLP have represented on a pro bono basis 28 of these unaccompanied children, helping them to remain in the U.S. through a Special Juvenile Immigration visa, or in some cases, asylum.

“The immigration system in our country is struggling,” said David A. Zapolsky, senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary for Amazon. “One of the ways it’s most obviously struggling is its inability to provide adequate legal representation to the people who are caught in that system, and particularly children.”

This innovative partnership came together in 2017, soon after Amazon Legal launched its pro bono program. Amazon attorney Ajay Patel reached out to Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), an NGO that protects immigrant and refugee children across the globe who are migrating

alone in search of safety, as well as Bet Tzedek , a legal aid organization in Los Angeles, to see if Amazon could drive a multicity initiative to offer free legal services to migrant children. “KIND was — and remains — a natural fit for us at Amazon

as a pro bono partner because its mission is very much in line with our goals of doing good in the community,” Patel said.

At launch, the Amazon and Davis Wright Tremaine alliance became the biggest corporate and private law firm partnership for KIND in terms of geographic scope and number of children served. “The need for the children at the border is incredible — the numbers are staggering,” said Joanna Plichta Boisen, chief pro bono and social impact officer for Davis Wright Tremaine. “These attorneys come together to make up some of the most powerful teams to help these children at the border who were abused, neglected, and afraid, and needed an advocate in court.”

These attorneys come together to make up some of the most powerful teams to help these children at the border who were abused, neglected, and afraid, and needed an advocate in court.

KIND mentors and trains lawyers and legal professionals to represent the children during the complex and time-intensive court proceedings. The learning curve nevertheless is steep, as few of the Amazon and Davis Wright Tremaine legal team members have prior experience in immigration law. The team demonstrates to the court the dangers the minors would face if returned home, seeking to take deportation off the table and giving the children a promising new trajectory in life. “We have a 96% case success rate when children are represented,” said Wendy Young, KIND president. “A lawyer makes all the difference.”

Amazon Legal’s bond with KIND crosses borders, as the pro bono team in Europe is working with the NGO specifically to assist unaccompanied minors who are refugees of the war in Ukraine. Amazon lawyers and legal professionals are preparing informational resources — written in accessible language for the minors — that lay out details about their protective rights, temporary caregiver arrangements, and procedures for reuniting with their families.

We have a 96% case success rate when children are represented. A lawyer makes all the difference.

Fact sheets help lighten the load for Ukrainian refugees

Moments after the first Russian armaments hit the cities of Ukraine in February 2022, the magnitude of what would escalate into Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II became apparent. A few days after the start of the war, Amazon Legal in Europe anticipated the crisis ahead and began lining up partner law firms to devise practical ideas on how they could help.


Action was swift, decisive, and impactful. “By leveraging our international and diverse workforce, and in line with our company’s culture, we were able to mobilize a dedicated group of individuals to provide legal support to those in need,” said Najib Saïl , the Amazon lawyer who leads the European pro bono taskforce.

More than 70 Amazon Legal team members from across the globe — Poland, Luxembourg, Sweden, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and Mexico — joined with another group of about 70 lawyers and legal professionals from DLA Piper on a pro bono project to help ease the transition for Ukrainian refugee families and individuals who have been forced to resettle elsewhere in Europe.

In just one month’s time, they completed a series of fact sheets that detail regulations and practices in the various European countries where refugee mothers have been trying to reclaim a sense of normalcy for their displaced children. The fact sheets cover a variety of topics germane to raising a family and establishing oneself in a new country, including: housing; education; childcare; healthcare; employment; immigration; legal aid and human rights protection; and banking and taxation.

Like the crisis itself, the pro bono project was unprecedented in its response and product: 18 fact sheets, each outlining 14 topics, covering 18 different countries — the result of more than 360 pro bono hours from dedicated Amazonians. The country-specific guidance (presented in both Ukrainian and English) is available on the website of PILnet , Amazon’s other partner in the project.

“When the war started, I, together with my sons, went abroad,” said Olga, who fled her city of Dnipro. “Obviously, I had a lot of questions regarding my rights and possibilities in different countries of the world. In this respect, the website, where the fact sheets are published, helped me a lot. I have found answers to most of my questions. They are very easy to use and I could quickly find necessary information. I really appreciate it.”

Presented in a concise and organized fashion, the fact sheets have been shared with NGOs working on the ground to assist the displaced Ukrainians. Although the pro bono project is complete, its impact on people and history endures.

“You must motivate people and act in front of unprecedented times. This goes to the very essence of what pro bono means.
Najib Saïl Head of the European Pro Bono Taskforce at Amazon

Anxieties of Dreamers dissolve in a sea of legal support

A young woman arrived at a legal clinic, staffed by Amazon professionals, in an utter panic. She had been able to live in the United States as a result of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), an immigration policy that grants certain young undocumented immigrants work authorization and protection from deportation, provided that they came before they turned 16 and have lived in the country for several years. DACA recipients, known as “Dreamers,” must renew their status every two years, but the young woman had let it expire, meaning she had to gather and submit additional paperwork dating back several years.


The DACA clinics help recipients fill out the complex and precise renewal applications.

As of June 2021, Amazon lawyers and legal professionals had participated in 168 DACA clinics in Seattle, assisting more than 2,100 young people.

Rebecca Joseph, an Amazon legal professional in Seattle, recalled how she helped the anxious young woman who came to the clinic. “Her home had suffered a fire and she lost a lot of her possessions, including the records of her previous applications. During a two-hour DACA clinic, I usually can help two or three different clients, but I spent the entire time with this one woman. We went through step by step what documentation she needed and who she could call to obtain it.” Needing to show proof of continuous residency,

Joseph came up with an idea to track where the young woman used to live: “Do you buy stuff on

Amazon a lot?” Joseph asked her. They then pulled the woman’s past orders, which helped confirm her previous addresses.

Amazon partners with Perkins Coie LLP and Northwest Immigrant Rights Project on the DACA clinics. Joseph, who graduated law school but is not a practicing attorney, said her schooling ingrained in her the value that legal professionals “should be using our expertise to give back to the community, not just for our own benefit.” She is thrilled that this pro bono project tapped into the full range of talent on Amazon’s legal team — including non-attorneys like her.

“What I especially have liked is getting to connect with the people I am helping,” Joseph said. “Hearing a little bit about their lives is always touching. Part of the application process involves explaining why the person is applying — this can

humanize the application for whoever is reading it. Some clients are studying to be nurses or have jobs as essential workers. Many are taking care of their parents and family members, or have their own children they are supporting. Sometimes they bring their kids to the clinic.

“They come into the clinics with stress and worry, and leave with reassurances. Most walk out ready to file and get their status renewed.”

As a company, Amazon is a strong supporter of immigration reform and has publicly advocated for Dreamers by urging Congress to pass a permanent legislative solution for DACA recipients and urging the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to allocate all employment-based green cards for the current fiscal year.

Legal professionals should be using our expertise to give back to the community, not just for our own benefit.

Political refugees obtain help with their asylum petitions

The legal team from Amazon Studios in Los Angeles partnered with the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project to assist political refugees already in the U.S. in gaining asylum. In 2019, Amazon hosted a one-day clinic where lawyers and legal professionals met in person with about 30 individuals originally from Central America to help them fill out their asylum petitions in the most advantageous way to be granted permanent protection.

Emma Matson, a legal professional now working at Amazon Studios in the United Kingdom, recalled how the lawyers and legal professionals were moved by the intense stories they heard of dangers back home and death-defying travels — a woman fleeing physical abuse from her spouse, a family tracing its treacherous journey from country to country before finally arriving in the U.S. — all in hopes of securing a new life in America, free of fear.


Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse

School-based project in India speaks up and keeps no secrets

India has stringent laws and effective tools to shield children from sexual offenses. Unfortunately, many school teachers are unaware of these laws and their legal obligation to report a suspected crime.

In addition, many children do not comprehend the distinction between a safe and an unsafe touch.


Since 2016, Amazon’s legal team in India has partnered with several NGOs, including HAQ: Centre for Child Rights , to disseminate information on child rights in schools, as well as address the fears and misunderstandings among teachers and students about confidentiality and punishment — and try to allay their concerns. The goal is to increase the frequency of reports and reduce the incidences of child sexual abuse.

The school-based presentations vary by audience, ranging from straightforward orientation-and-training workshops for teachers to entertaining string-puppet shows for children that reveal a more profound message. Richa Bakshi, an attorney for Amazon in India, said the presentations help teachers and students identify offenses and encourage children to tell a parent, teacher, or older sibling so that appropriate action can be taken. She added that students often pay heightened attention to her and her co-workers’ presentations because of the children’s familiarity with Amazon.


“My team and I take our role of sharing legal knowledge — about the rights, privileges, and protections provided to kids by the Indian legal system — very seriously,” Bakshi said. “We are doing our best to make changes in young people’s lives. Our work is meaningful if we are able to help even one or two children.”

Presenters hope that by the end of a session, students are able to absorb the message, “If you face it, you report it.” The sessions themselves provide a window to children to reach out.

Sometimes after a session, Bakshi said, “there are kids who want to speak to someone alone.”

Our work is meaningful if we are able to help even one or two children.

Promoting Arts and Culture

Filmmaker given legal direction so she can focus on her craft

Cast in roles that didn’t speak to her soul, actor Melinda Raebyne shifted her focus from in front of the camera to behind it, a standpoint from where she could bring awareness to the various social causes that mattered to her the most. With her heart in the right place, she discovered that being an independent filmmaker also requires brainpower on complex legal matters like contracts, liability, and releases.


Raebyne had questions. So she turned to Washington Lawyers for the Arts (WLA), a nonprofit that serves as a bridge between the arts and legal communities in Washington state, consulting with artists and arts organizations to help them better manage the ancillary legal issues related to their craft. Both the current and immediate past chairs of WLA’s board, Rebecca Lanctot and Mark Warnick , are members of Amazon’s legal team, and Amazon’s longstanding partnership with WLA has been a major driver of Amazon Legal’s pro bono hours overall.

“WLA is quite ecumenical on who is an artist and what is an arts organization,” said Lanctot, a legal professional for Amazon Prime Video. “As an example, I write in my spare time. Once

I have a book done, I theoretically could reach out to WLA and get guidance.”


Amazon hosts monthly WLA workshops for artists and representatives of arts organizations to come with their legal questions. In fact, Raebyne first met attorney Warnick at a session that took place at Amazon’s downtown Seattle campus. At the time, Raebyne was shooting an immersive-style documentary about people living in a homeless encampment near Seattle.

“Being an artist, I was nervous walking in there — I don’t speak legal jargon,” Raebyne recalled. “How was I going to say what I wanted to say so that they would understand me? And how would I understand what they told me? But I came out of there really feeling like they cared about the work I was doing and I got the support I needed.”



Safeguarding Voter Participation

Volunteers answer the call to staff Election Day voter hotline

In an effort to ensure that all voters in the United States have equal opportunity to cast their ballots and that their votes will count, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law operates a non-partisan national election protection hotline year round. Calls get routed to pro bono lawyers and legal professionals who pick up the line to offer assistance. On Election Day 2020, Amazon became the first in-house legal department ever to staff the entirety of such a call center, fielding queries throughout four shifts from voters in 15 states.

“The way the call center is structured, the folks on the phone are given ‘playbooks’ that have answers to many voters’ questions,” said Mayank Prasad, an attorney in Seattle who organized Amazon’s efforts and served as a call center lead on Election Day. “If the playbook doesn’t have an answer, sometimes some quick research can get the job done. When that doesn’t work, you take the question to a shift captain, and then, if necessary, the shift captain goes to the call center leads. That culture of thinking on your feet and escalating quickly when you don’t have the answer, that’s very Amazonian.”

That culture of thinking on your feet and escalating quickly when you don’t have the answer, that’s very Amazonian.

The majority of calls on Election Day 2020 came from people looking for help filling out their ballot, finding where to cast their vote in person, or asking about mail-in ballot requirements. Some calls were more serious, including an allegation of harassment at a polling place in Hawaii and an individual brandishing an assault weapon near a voting center north of Seattle. Both calls were escalated immediately and referred to law enforcement.

About 150 different members of Amazon Legal across the country participated in the election protection initiative leading up to and including Election Day 2020. In total, they logged in about 2,200 hours of volunteer time, plus an additional 90 or so hours of administrative work to make the project run smoothly.

“This is a legal department with leadership that really champions pro bono efforts across the board,” said Prasad, in the process of planning a similar initiative for the 2022 election. “Our people have shown themselves to be enthusiastic about helping voters get their voices heard.”

This is a legal department with leadership that really champions pro bono efforts across the board.

Teaching about the Constitution and Civil Rights

Learning about their rights, students get their voice

History teacher Staci Ring observed intently as her students considered the constitutional dilemma at the heart of a real-life court case that had just been introduced to them. Does a student have a right to carry an encased small knife at school in accordance with his Sikh faith? Or is the student’s religious liberty under the First Amendment outweighed by the need of school administrators to maintain campus security?

“They all heard the same case, but they perceived it differently,” said Ring, who teaches freshmen and sophomores at Willie Stewart Academy, a high school in Tacoma, Washington. “It was really cool to hear them make their arguments on either side.”



Two Amazon attorneys in Seattle, Ben Skoglund and Sam Plott , created the interactive lesson plan, which Amazon lawyers and legal professionals present in classrooms for Constitution Day, the annual observance of the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. Wanting the lesson to be relatable for the students, Skoglund and Plott — with support from attorney Dennis Wallace and legal professional Charmaine Robles — picked a 1994 California case that took place within a school setting. Skoglund and Plott made the lesson participatory, asking students to form small groups, evaluate the competing interests of the students, families, and the school, and then discuss their views with classmates.

For Skoglund, the son of two educators, the pro bono project took him back to his prelaw-school days when he taught fifth graders in Minnesota. “I found the project really fulfilling,” he said. “Working with students is something I love to do. I couldn’t help but call my parents to tell them that I had the opportunity to write a lesson plan for Amazon Legal and get back in the classroom.”


Since 2017, Amazon lawyers and legal professionals have given both Constitution Day and civil rights presentations to about 6,500 students in Washington and California, endeavoring to have the presenters reflect the racial and ethnic makeup of the students being taught. In 2022, Lasherelle Morgan, attorney for Amazon Studios, headed a team of lawyers and legal professionals based out of Miami, New York, and California in a presentation on civil rights to elementary and middle school students in central Los Angeles. To engage young minds on complex matters, Morgan compares gerrymandering to unfairly cutting slices of a pizza, and she uses TikTok clips to showcase the significance of the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020.



Building rapport between the students and presenters is key when provocative topics of personal freedoms are broached. Without that trust, the students simply won’t open up, Ring said. To that end, Ring witnessed one of her students, who spoke nary a word in class, emerge out of her shell to give a very vocal opinion during one of the Constitution Day interactive lessons.

“Once she had the floor, she went on and on,” Ring recalled. “I love the voice these lessons give to our students. The Constitution can be an intimidating document, but here they get absorbed into it and feel empowered by it.”



Helping Communities Thrive

Audible offers justice and legal aid to benefit its neighbors in Newark

From the moment Audible moved its headquarters to Newark, New Jersey, the company has been committed to accelerating the renaissance of this great American city. Pro bono has been close to the heart of this work, with Audible attorneys donating free legal aid so that residents, including those with criminal histories and those re-entering society after serving time in prison, may have fair and equitable access to counsel. The State of New Jersey recently revised its expungement law to allow more people who have been convicted of crimes to clear their records.


“Criminal records are big impediments on people’s ability to function as whole members of society,” said Suemyra Shah , an attorney for Audible. “They can bar people from getting a job, obtaining housing, voting, and accessing other rights and benefits.” Shah and her Audible colleagues have staffed monthly clinics, organized through pro bono partner Volunteer Lawyers for Justice (VLJ), to consult with people about their criminal history and determine whether their record is eligible for expungement under the expanded law. If it is, the client is referred to VLJ to prepare a filing. Audible, an Amazon subsidiary, routinely accepts project referrals from Pro Bono Partnership, which coordinates and offers legal services to New Jersey nonprofits that provide essentials to people in need and work on issues like homelessness

and food insecurity. Audible projects include advising on contracts and policies for the Lincoln

Park Coast Cultural District , a nonprofit that integrates arts and cultural amenities in Newark neighborhoods to advance local economic development and community engagement.

These partnerships are just two of several dozen pro bono initiatives that Audible’s legal team has taken on in pursuit of Activate Caring, a concept

enshrined within the company’s People Principles and which states in part:

“We work to improve the lives of those without privilege in the cities and countries in which we operate, because Audible seeks to exemplify what a company can mean beyond what it does. We believe in giving people a chance, and we work to make this so, particularly in the urban core.”

We work to improve the lives of those without privilege in the cities and countries in which we operate, because Audible seeks to exemplify what a company can mean beyond what it does. We believe in giving people a chance, and we work to make this so, particularly in the urban core.


Improving Youth Literacy

Enchanting books captivate and charm Ethiopia’s youngest readers

In the children’s storybook The Runaway Injera , a round Ethiopian flatbread with eyes and a mouth “rolls zip-zip across the ground” in a crafty escape attempt from those who wish it a delicious demise.

The book is part of an impressive and endearing collection of more than 130 bilingual titles, created, published, translated, and distributed by Open Hearts Big Dreams (OHBD), an NGO making reading fun and accessible for young children in Ethiopia, with a goal of helping to close the country’s literacy gap. The literacy rate for youth in Ethiopia is about 70% and the adult literacy rate hovers around 50%, with literacy less common among girls and women. Another book in the collection, Andromeda, Princess of Ethiopia, effectively reclaims Andromeda as more than just a Greek myth by shining a light on the princess’ Ethiopian roots.


The vast majority of OHBD titles are written and illustrated by volunteers, and each story is told in both English and a language spoken in Ethiopia or other parts of Africa (15 languages so far, amounting to more than 725 different books overall). With the help of collaborating organizations, OHBD in its first five years has locally printed and distributed more than 350,000 copies of books in Ethiopia and has circulated another 30,000 globally through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, making it the largest publisher of bilingual children’s books featuring African languages and stories in the world.

Amazon Legal has a history of support for OHBD. Its founder and executive director, Ellenore Angelidis, worked 13 years for Amazon as an attorney and in several other roles before leaving the company in 2018. Amazon lawyers and

legal professionals recently have been engaged in a pro bono research project that lays the foundation for OHBD to expand its book distribution to other parts of Africa, including countries with some of the lowest literacy rates in the world. Working with DLA Piper, Amazon is preparing a series of intellectual property and compliance worksheets for 16 countries that OHBD will be able to use for guidance related to copyright, content licensing, language requirements, and distribution protocols for libraries and schools.



Paola Montero, an Amazon attorney in Spain, has led the Africa-based project, which has attracted volunteers from across the globe. Montero appreciates the project’s goal of increasing literacy. “As lawyers, we get so swamped with our daily work that sometimes we don’t easily see the value we can add to communities. It’s nice to work for a company that allows these types of synergies with NGOs and diverse cultures — pro bono is definitely one of the more enriching parts of my job.”


Assisting Adoptions

Amazon Studios legal team goes “out of office” to make new families

The young boy arrived in court dressed smartly in full mariachi regalia.

Unable to contain his excitement about his pending adoption, he performed a couple of irresistibly cute dances for the judge and everyone in attendance. Colleen Hilton, an Amazon attorney who had assisted his new family through the long and sometimes stressful journey of legal adoption, was unable to contain her tears.


Once a year, families gather at the Children’s Court near Los Angeles for a very special day when judges finalize adoptions, one after another, calling the youngest of the children to the bench to invite them to select one of several plush teddy bears lined against a wall. Warm and fuzzy, all around.

Hilton had left for court that morning by placing a sign on her office door: “Colleen is out today helping to make a new family.” After making her successful appearance before the judge, Hilton grabbed a seat in the back of the courtroom to witness the joys of other children and families whose cases had been supported by her Amazon Studios legal team colleagues. “To help complete families, to help make children feel secure and confident that no one is going to take them away, that’s just the greatest feeling in the world,” Hilton said.

Over the past several years, members of the Amazon Studios legal team have volunteered hundreds of hours to allow children who have suffered past traumas in their short lives be adopted out of foster care. Taking referrals from Public Counsel , a Los Angeles-based provider of pro bono legal services, the lawyers and legal professionals work on uncontested adoption cases in teams of two or three — an indicator of the complexity and time demands of a form-heavy process that isn’t always intuitive. For example, if a child has special needs, the legal team must prepare separate filings to help the family secure additional benefits from the state to help raise the child.


The National Adoption Day celebration is the payoff for all the hard work. “This pro bono initiative is my all-time favorite volunteer opportunity,” Amazon attorney Kathy Polishuk said. “The best part for me has been getting to know the families in the process. A lot of times, the children are being adopted by relatives and they have so many sweet stories to share about the child.”

Polishuk treasures a crayon hand-drawing of a beautiful vista that a young girl gave her as a present after helping the girl’s longtime foster parent adopt her. “It was such a tangible reward for making this family official,” she said.



Supporting LGBTQIA Communities

Amazon bolsters report that supports LGBTQIA students throughout Europe

The right forearm of Rubén Ávila Rodríguez bears the scar of growing up in a small town in Spain — a cut mark left by a school bully who attacked the teenager he chided as gay. Some 20 years later, conditions generally have improved for LGBTQIA youth across Europe, in and out of school. But policies and practices governing inclusive education for LGBTQIA youth vary from country to country (and from region to region), with some having adopted regressive laws in recent years.


Ávila Rodríguez, now living in Belgium, is the policy and research manager for International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexua l, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Youth & Student Organisation (also known as IGLYO), the largest group of its kind in the world. With the help of Amazon attorneys and legal professionals, IGLYO has published a second edition of its breakthrough LGBTQI Inclusive Education Report , which benchmarks rules and laws governing the treatment of LGBTQIA students in 49 different European countries. Ávila Rodríguez calls the report a powerful resource, crucial to demonstrating where gaps exist and to uplifting the models needed to fill them.

Amazon became involved in the project, joining 50 lawyers from White & Case LLP, as part of an

intentional effort to create more DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) pro bono opportunities for its legal team. After learning of the project, Camille Fernandes , a legal professional for Amazon in Luxembourg, jumped at the chance to lead it. “I am very vocal about the rights of women, LGBTQIA people, people of color, and other minorities, and I’m always trying to be a better ally at my own level, seizing every possible chance to learn and educate myself,” she said. “This project was a blessing. I loved working on it.”

The project resonated loudly across Amazon Legal, with 24 volunteers — 15 attorneys and nine legal professionals, not only from Europe but also India and the U.S. — contributing their time and skills. What began as a relatively simple request to verify the research already done for the report’s first edition turned into something more

extensive, Fernandes said. “The report creates a fact-based, repository snapshot of each country. We ended up doing heavy research and drafting, which enabled us to bring more content into it.”


This project was a blessing. I loved working on it. “

Lawyer supporting marriage equality case in Japan urged to continue

Takeho Ujino, a senior associate with one of Tokyo’s leading private law firms, looked to advance his legal career with a move to the corporate sector. While at the law firm, Ujino volunteered on a series of legal actions to support the path toward marriage equality in Japan.


“One of my concerns when looking for a new job was that a new employer would ask me to resign from my pro bono activity,” said Ujino, who decided to be proactive and let prospective employers know about his work on behalf of marriage equality. During his interview with Amazon, he mentioned it to the recruiters. “They told me, ‘This is great!

Not only may you continue working on it, we encourage you to do that.’ I was surprised.”

Ujino accepted Amazon’s job offer and works as an attorney in Tokyo. At the same time, he continues to craft and draft legal arguments in an effort to convince judges that the spirit of the “freedom of marriage” article in Japan’s 1946 Constitution should be interpreted as inclusive and therefore extend to LGBTQIA people. “I am good at structuring legal arguments,” Ujino said, “so my experience in these matters is useful.”

They told me, ‘This is great! Not only may you continue working on it, we encourage you to do that.’

Empowering People with Mental Disabilities

Legal research provides an antidote to dependency and isolation

Expanding its pro bono portfolio in order to reach more disenfranchised people and communities, Amazon entered into a partnership in 2022 with Validity, a legal advocacy organization that addresses dependency

among people with mental disabilities in Europe


and isolation

About 25 Amazon Legal team members from nine countries — inside and outside the European continent — reviewed existing laws and regulations related to guardianships in seven European countries (a total of nine jurisdictions when including regional rules).

Guardianships are legal arrangements that deprive adults with mental disabilities of their right to legal capacity by appointing substitute decision-makers to make choices on their behalf. Validity plans to use the research to develop and advocate for alternative “supported decision-making” policy guidelines that will give people with mental disabilities more say and control over their own lives.

Alison Farquhar, one of two attorneys who formed Amazon’s new legal team in Brussels, Belgium, in March 2021, led the Validity project — in partnership with Covington , an international firm — while in her first year with the company. She also represented Amazon Legal in a joint presentation — with DLA Piper and the Raise Women’s Awareness Network — to about 40 working refugee women in Belgium, educating them about their legal rights on the job as they relate to maternity leave and motherhood.

As often occurs with pro bono opportunities, both initiatives spun off from a standing relationship between Amazon and a global law firm, and then built off that law firm’s existing partnership with an NGO.


Representing Victims of Domestic Violence

Fighting for the best interests of at-risk children

Monica Hernandez is an attorney in Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit, who works with brands and law enforcement to pursue bad actors worldwide. Since August 2020, she has volunteered with D.C. Volunteer Lawyers Project (DCVLP), a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., that represents domestic violence victims, at-risk children, and vulnerable immigrants.


DCVLP also engages volunteer attorneys to handle protection orders and child support cases and to serve as court-appointed advocates for vulnerable children. As one of those volunteers –as well as a member of the Junior Board since 2021 – Monica serves as a court-appointed guardian ad litem (GAL) to help the court understand what is in the child’s best interest. Monica has dedicated over 250 hours to GAL work over the past two years. Her work includes counseling clients, working with families, and making numerous

court appearances. When she joined Amazon in 2021 from a law firm, she was able to continue this work through Amazon’s pro bono program.

According to Monica, “It’s an honor to provide a voice for these children in court. I’m grateful that Amazon’s commitment to pro bono allows me the opportunity to advance this organization’s critical work. I look forward to continuing my work with DCVLP in the years to come.”

Alexis Collins, vice president and associate general counsel at Amazon, is also deeply involved with DCVLP and a member of its board of directors. “DCVLP believes that a life free from violence and abuse is a basic human right,” said Alexis, “and we are passionate about improving the lives of survivors of domestic violence and at-risk children. Our program relies on volunteer attorneys, and I’m proud that DCVLP has been able to partner with Monica and other Amazon attorneys through our pro bono program to benefit our local community.”

I’m grateful that Amazon’s commitment to pro bono allows me the opportunity to advance this organization’s critical work.

Advancing Women’s Health

Midwifery centers in Mexico breathe easier with legal operational support

Luna Maya operates two natural birthing support centers in Mexico, delivering to Indigenous and low-income women the health care choices they deserve but may not be afforded. The small nonprofit advocates for the growth of the midwifery profession throughout Mexico, while also demonstrating that midwife services can help lower the country’s high rate of cesarean section births.


With its hands full providing direct services to expectant parents, Luna Maya relies on the grace of others to make sure the agency remains in compliance with the law so that it can continue its important work. This is where Amazon Legal stepped in. Thalia Ruiz , an attorney in Mexico City, and two of her office colleagues volunteered their time to provide essential behind-the-scenes legal research that aids Luna Maya’s overall operations, allowing the agency to focus its resources on what it does best — supporting families through a healthy pregnancy, labor, and post-delivery.

Amazon received the Luna Maya referral from Appleseed México, part of a network of justice centers in North America that promote social impact and pro bono culture. “Legal representation is expensive, and that results in people and nonprofit organizations being denied access to it,” Ruiz said. “I want to help close that gap. Giving back to organizations doing something so meaningful for people and society, I love being a part of that.”

Legal representation is expensive, and that results in people and nonprofit organizations being denied access to it.

Mentoring Young Legal Minds

Black woman lawyer in Brazil breaks barriers of her profession with her mentor’s help

Young lawyer Débora Brangioni Pereira has found encouragement and inspiration through a professional society of female in-house counsels in Brazil who recognize the built-in biases that can hold her back. Men dominate the legal profession in Brazil and almost no female lawyers of color hold executive-level positions within corporations. Pereira, who self-identifies as Black, has benefited from a mentorship program provided through Jurídico de Saias (Portuguese for “Legal in Skirts”), gaining newfound confidence in her skills and ability to lead.


Josie Jardim, an attorney for Amazon in Brazil, founded the society in 2009 to address gender inequalities and develop new female leaders within the Brazilian legal community. More recently, the group launched the mentorship program for female law students of color, starting at a university in São Paulo before branching out to students elsewhere in the country. The program also attracts existing lawyers like Pereira seeking to advance their careers. “With the help of my mentor, the program has been helping me to understand myself as a legal professional and map my pain points,” she said.

Jardim and Juliana Meira , also an Amazon attorney in Brazil, have invested many pro bono

hours to evolve the mentorship program, with mentor training taking place within Amazon office space. Meira, who has served as a mentor, said female law students often believe they are limited in what they can achieve because barriers — brought about by misogyny — really do exist.

Self-doubt can be even greater for female law students and young lawyers of color, who have few role models in Brazil. Ianda Lopes, general counsel for GE Onshore Wind Services, is one of the few.

“You do not aspire to what you do not see, and if you do not see any women of color as a general counsel of an international corporation or as a partner in a large law firm, you do not think it is

possible,” said Lopes, who hatched the idea for a mentorship program and shared it with Jardim. “Why am I not seeing women who look like me in Jurídico de Saias? Why are women of color not achieving leadership roles? What is missing? That’s why we decided to start the mentorship program.”

Many young women of color in Brazil were raised in racially and economically segregated environments that suffocate dreams and stifle opportunities. Mentors focus on helping to build their self-esteem in addition to networking on their behalf and offering tips on interviewing for a job. “Many female law students do not understand the opportunities that exist for them,” Jardim said.

“They may dream of working for a nice law firm but feel like they aren’t allowed to participate in that market. We want to have somebody there to make them believe they can.”

Carrying forward what she has learned, Pereira recently started a mentorship program for Black law students through the bar association in the Brazilian state where she lives. Currently working in mediation, she said she aspires to become a labor prosecutor. “Due to the lack of representation of Black females in the profession, I didn’t realize what was possible for me. The mentorship program has brought me strength without fear of revealing who I am: a Black female legal professional.”

Many female law students ... may dream of working for a nice law firm but feel like they aren’t allowed to participate in that market. We want to have somebody there to make them believe they can.

Aiding Military Veterans

Veterans in Amazon Legal help former U.S. Marine earn honorable discharge

A young Marine served the United States impeccably in the Global War on Terrorism until the horrors associated with combat overwhelmed him. To cope, he resorted to self-medicating. His superiors discovered his substance use and, citing the military’s zero-tolerance policy, pushed through his involuntary separation from service. Encumbered with a less-than-honorable discharge, the Marine lost several of his veterans’ benefits — including the mental health services he needed to heal from having fought an unforgiving war in a faraway land.


Three members of Amazon’s legal department who also are veterans — two Navy and one Army — teamed up on behalf of the former Marine to appeal his discharge status, successfully upgrading it to honorable. In addition to Veterans Affairs system health care, an honorable discharge carries advantages such as educational opportunities and VA-backed home loans.

Through referrals from The Veterans Consortium and the National Veterans Legal Services Program , Amazon lawyers since 2018 have supported veterans who have sought to challenge their discharge status. Preparing their complex appeals requires significant research and time.

Yet without such pro bono assistance, veterans are left to navigate the byzantine path to justice on their own, their attempts often frustrated by the maladies and feelings of resentment from which they suffer.

“This case was an opportunity for us to right some wrongs and get this Marine the medical care and other benefits he deserved,” said Lloyd Chee , a former naval officer now working as a lawyer for Amazon. “His PTSD was a service-connected disability and he suffered because the military did not provide what he needed.”


Chee, who spent 27 years in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Navy Reserve, is Amazon’s representative on the advisory committee of the Washington State Attorney General’s Office of Military and Veteran Legal Assistance , which facilitates pro bono services for military service members, veterans, and their families. At Amazon, Chee negotiates transactions and advises the team that keeps the company’s fleet of delivery vehicles running smoothly around the world.

Being able to balance his corporate legal responsibilities with pro bono work that reaches into his past has been “incredibly rewarding, a meaningful journey,” Chee said. “Those of us who have served our country have a certain affinity for the military as an organization, but it’s really all about the people. It’s often said that when you fight in a battle, it’s not for country or flag as much as it is for the person who is to the left or right of you. That bond is unbreakable.”


Preserving the Environment

Behind-the-scenes support helps protect critical habitat

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has been in the business of protecting critical habitat, preserving landscapes, and promoting biodiversity for over 70 years. One critical mechanism for achieving those objectives is through conservation easements, which limit the allowed uses of land while providing tax and other benefits to property owners.


At TNC’s request, Amazon real estate attorneys Leslie Reed and Katherine Wax , and Alexa legal professional Kate Lowry, convened a group of 40 summer associates, attorneys, and legal professionals from Amazon Legal and DLA Piper to research a complex set of issues related to conservation easements and prepare a 50-state survey of the findings. This research is designed to support TNC’s commitment to protect conservation easement interests and allow TNC to proactively manage risk.

Amazon Legal team members across the globe support TNC on a wide range of issues, including trademarks, labor, and employment, and questions about entering a new jurisdiction. To streamline the intake process, Lowry developed a mechanism for submitting and assigning new requests from TNC using a tool developed by the

Amazon Legal Ops team, effectively lightening the administrative load on both Amazon and TNC, and making it easier for interested Amazonians to learn about new volunteer opportunities with TNC. This mechanism may serve as a model for managing work with other pro bono partner organizations.

The pro bono initiatives with TNC dovetail with The Climate Pledge , Amazon’s commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 — 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement.

“When we sent out an email to the Legal Department asking people to sign up for The Nature Conservancy project, we got more than 30 enthusiastic replies,” recalled Wax, demonstrating the department’s degree of interest in — and support for — TNC’s mission.


Reaching Out


Pro bono opportunities for Amazonians know no bounds

Amazon attorneys and legal professionals in Mexico and Canada help Ukrainian refugees successfully resettle in Poland and Austria. A senior attorney in Spain drives a project to support literacy in Africa. Legal team members in Dubai and Singapore pitch in on an initiative that benefits Europeans living with mental disabilities. Lawyers throughout Europe enthusiastically work on cases that seek to overturn wrongful convictions of prison inmates in the United States.


Amazon makes pro bono opportunities available across the globe for lawyers and legal professionals no matter in what corner of the world they work. Legal team members can volunteer for projects taking place an ocean away — or closer to home.

For example, Audible’s tiny but mighty Asia-Pacific legal team supports international law firm Ashurst on its Law Reform Project in Australia, preparing submissions and other documents that advocate for clients of community legal centers and local nonprofits.

Most recently, the team worked on a research project aimed at making Australia’s criminal justice system more compassionate and responsive to children and young people who are survivors of sexual violence. “I am very pleased that we have created an Australiafocused pro bono program for our lawyers,” said Saori Horikawa , a Tokyo-based attorney for Audible APAC. “Although our contribution is a small piece to the overall mission, we are able to provide our natural attorney skills of research, writing, and advocacy to help people within our region.”


Amazon legal team members based in dozens of countries all over the world volunteer their skills and time on pro bono projects. The impact of their work, however, is global.


Celebrating Pro Bono

Pro Bono Week provides a venue for reflection and growth

Amazon’s Pro Bono Week is an annual global effort to increase awareness of — and participation in — pro bono activities. Each year in late October, Amazon Legal hosts a range of events designed to encourage attorneys and legal professionals to get involved, including clinics, trainings, and presentations about the people and organizations the team supports. Pro Bono Week also is a time to applaud the people and partnerships behind the work through recognitions of those who have made significant contributions and keynote speeches from leaders in the pro bono community.


We’ve established a truly global program through which members of our legal department throughout the world can meaningfully contribute year round to an increasingly wide range of pro bono causes, from wherever they may be located.

In addition to driving increased participation in pro bono, Pro Bono Week is a fantastic way for Amazonians to interact and work with others around the globe. “Like we did in other aspects of our lives, we made changes to Pro Bono Week — and our pro bono program as a whole — to accommodate remote work,” said James Cuneo, a member of Amazon’s pro bono executive committee who has helped plan Pro Bono Week activities for several years. “One benefit of going virtual is that it is now much easier for attorneys and legal professionals outside of Seattle to participate.”

Sean Croman , another member of the pro bono executive committee and co-leader of Pro Bono Week, added: “We’ve always sought to make our pro bono engagement opportunities as globally inclusive and impactful as possible. We’ve established a truly global program through which members of our legal department throughout the world can meaningfully contribute year round to an increasingly wide range of pro bono causes, from wherever they may be located. Pro Bono Week is a chance to celebrate that work and drive continual engagement in pro bono.”

A recent Pro Bono Week featured an appreciation concert from a Grammy-nominated musician. Each year, Pro Bono Week also includes an Amazon Legal fundraiser that benefits several pro bono partners. Fundraisers typically revolve around outdoor activities, like fun runs or friendly bike-or-hike distance challenges.

85 2022 2021 2019 2018 2017 2020 • Defender of Innocence Award | Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project • Pro Bono Award, Corporate Legal Department | New Jersey State Bar Association | Awarded to Audible • Scales of Justice Award | Equal Justice Works • Innovation Award | Kids in Need of Defense • Community Service Award | ACLU Southern California | For Constitution Day presentations, awarded to Amazon Studios • Corporate Pro Bono Lawyers of the Year | Association of Corporate Counsel, Southern California Chapter | Awarded to Amazon Studios The Amazon legal team wishes to give a special thank you to mem bers of the Davis Wright Tremaine team for their significant time, support, and partnership in helping to create this pro bo no report highlighting our global efforts. Davis Wright Tremaine also is one of many great partners in Amazon’s work to provide pro bono services to people and communities in need. • Corporate Pro Bono Partner Award | Pro Bono Institute | For Mary’s Place legal clinic, award shared with K&L Gates LLP • Corporate Pro Bono Partner Award | Pro Bono Institute | For work with Kids in Need of Defense, award shared with Davis Wright Tremaine LLP • Corporate Pro Bono Mission Partner Award | The Veterans Consortium • Recognition for Pro Bono Work | New York Lawyers for Public Interest ACKNOWLEDGMENT AWARDS

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