W I N T E R
Pro Bono Report
2 It Gets Better Project 4 Snyder v. Phelps and Free Speech 5 Real Change Land Use Dispute 6 Medical-Legal Partnership 7 Clean Water for Rwanda 8 Reparations Program For Holocaust Suvivors 9 Entertainment Attorney Reviews Report for U.N. 10 Milt Stewart on Pro Bono Work 11 Awards & Recognition
Our lawyers and staff are committed to obtaining equal justice for people and organizations that might otherwise not have access to legal assistance. We are pleased to share these pro bono successes from September to December of 2010.
THE : E G D E PL
Everyone deserves to be respected
for who they are. I pledge to spread this message to my friends, family and neighbors. I will speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it, at school and at work. I’ll provide hope for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and other bullied teens by letting them know that “It
It Gets Better Project Most people squirm when they think about their preteen and teenage years. The awkwardness, the acne, the unfortunate clothing choices. For LGBT kids, that can be just the beginning. Frequent taunting and bullying push a startling number of LGBT youth to suicide attempts. A new video-based social collaboration project called the It Gets Better Project is asking them to hang on—because life gets better. The It Gets Better Project is the brainchild of Dan Savage, author of the internationally syndicated column “Savage Love” and a contributor to “This American Life” on National Public Radio. Savage and his partner, Terry Miller, began the project in September 2010 after the death of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University student. Clementi committed suicide after his roommate posted intimate video of him on the Internet. Unfortunately, Clementi’s case is all too common—according to the It Gets Better website, more than one-third of LGBT youth have tried to commit suicide.
Most importantly, the target audience will see LGBT adults celebrating their lives and their relationships. The site also collects donations that help support The Trevor Project and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). Seth Levy, who is a partner in our Los Angeles office, is leading the group of DWT attorneys who are providing pro bono assistance to the It Gets Better Project with trademark protection and policing, online policies, coordinating with the beneficiary organizations, and a host of other matters. “The response to the project has been absolutely overwhelming,” says Levy. The Trevor Project, which operates a 24-hour crisis hotline, had been getting about 400 calls a week before the It Gets Better Project launched; now they’re getting about 1,000 calls a week. “Much of the population the Trevor Project serves is very difficult to reach,” notes Seth, so the It Gets Better Project has provided an invaluable resource for at-risk teens. (continued on page 8)
Anguished by these statistics, Savage and Miller posted a video on YouTube urging young LGBT people to persevere. “If you choose to end your life, then the bullies really win,” Savage says in the video. “One day you will have friends who will love and support you. You will find love.” Within hours of the video’s posting on the Internet, it was a viral sensation. Savage quickly enlisted the assistance of Brian Pines, who produces Savage’s television programs and is the partner of DWT attorney Seth Levy. Pines had also created the Iola Foundation (which operates as “Artists Give Back”) to provide opportunities for people in the creative community to support charitable causes. Within days, Pines and the Iola Foundation had coordinated with Blue State Digital, the creator of Barack Obama’s online campaign powerhouse, to build www.ItGetsBetter.org. Anyone can contribute a video to the site, and as of Nov. 12, more than 5,000 individuals and groups from around the world, ranging from teenagers to President Obama, had. You will see mothers of LGBT kids praise their supportive schools and teachers. You will see teenagers and adults mention their suicide attempts. You will see President Obama saying, “We’ve got to dispel this myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage.”
Dan Savage, Founder, It Gets Better Project Pro Bono Report
Snyder v. Phelps
“Tests…Even the Most Ardent Free Speech Advocates” Acknowledging that the speech at issue is “hateful” and “repugnant,” a team of Davis Wright Tremaine First Amendment attorneys filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press and 21 news media organizations arguing that the Constitution must protect such outrageous expression. The case, Snyder v. Phelps, was argued on Oct. 6. The plaintiff, Albert Snyder, is the father of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq in March 2010. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, picketed in the vicinity of Matthew Snyder’s funeral with signs reflecting their belief that the deaths of U.S. military personnel are punishment for a government that supports homosexuality. Matthew Snyder was not gay, but the church members used the funeral as an opportunity to express their views. Their signs bore messages such as “God hates fags” and “God hates the USA.” Although he did not see the signs until several hours after the funeral in a televised news report, Albert Snyder sued the Westboro Baptist Church and its pastor, Fred Phelps, for intentional infliction of emotional distress. He was awarded $5 million, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit reversed the decision on First Amendment grounds. The Supreme Court agreed to review the decision, and heard oral arguments on Oct. 6, 2010. “This case tests the mettle of even the most ardent free speech advocates because the underlying speech is so repugnant,” DWT attorneys Bob Corn-Revere, Tom Burke, Bruce Johnson, Rory Eastburg, and Beth Soja wrote in their amicus brief. “However, the particular facts of this case should not be used to fashion a First Amendment exemption for offensive speech.” 4
Plaintiff Albert Snyder (center) on the steps of the Supreme Cour t building.
“Without a doubt, the church’s message of intolerance is deeply offensive to many, and especially so to gay Americans, Catholics, veterans, and the families of those who sacrificed their lives defending the United States,” notes the brief. “But to silence a fringe messenger because of the distastefulness of the message is antithetical to the First Amendment’s most basic precepts.” The Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision on the case by June 2011.
Real Change Gets Real Help in Land Use Dispute About 8,000 people in Seattle and King County are homeless. Among the agencies that provide aid and services to them is Real Change, a weekly nonprofit newspaper. Real Change describes its mission as creating “opportunity and a voice for low-income people while taking action to end homelessness and poverty.” Every month, about 400 homeless men and women buy copies of the paper at the Real Change headquarters for 35 cents apiece; they resell the papers for $1 each, earning income that can help them get off the streets. In late 2009, Real Change announced plans to move its headquarters to Seattle’s Pioneer Square district, a historic area popular with locals and tourists. To allow Real Change to establish its new headquarters there, the City of Seattle required a change of use approval for the paper’s “street-level” use – which included a waiting area for vendors, a sales window, administrative offices, and a computer lab. The director of the city’s Department of Neighborhoods gave Real Change the approval based on a favorable recommendation from the Pioneer Square Preservation Board. A local community group, the Pioneer Square Community Association (PSCA), appealed the certificate of approval to the City Hearing Examiner. The PSCA claimed that the newspaper’s operation was prohibited by the land use regulations applicable in the Pioneer Square neighborhood, arguing that the office was actually a prohibited wholesale business, and that the computer lab was a prohibited vocational use.
Seattle’s Pioneer Square District
Based on a written agreement, the PSCA withdrew its appeal of the change of use approval, and Real Change agreed to use reasonable efforts to enforce its vendor code of conduct. The parties also agreed to not disparage one another in matters relating to the land use dispute or in any other matter for a period of six months after the execution of the settlement agreement. This case was referred to DWT from Washington Attorneys Assisting Community Organizations, a legal services provider that screens the business-related legal needs of nonprofits and places them with volunteer attorneys.
Seattle partner Marco de Sa e Silva and associate Clayton Graham provided pro bono representation to Real Change in the dispute, and the parties reached a settlement before the date of the appeal hearing. The settlement was reached despite a history of bad blood between the parties and some pointed media jabs starting at the time PSCA’s appeal became public.
Pro Bono Report
Medical-Legal Partnership Keeps Parents and Sick Kids Together Every day, foreign visitors to the United States must deal with the unexpected. Usually this means coping with language barriers or travel challenges, but sometimes the unexpected comes in the form of a serious medical problem. In Seattle recently, a mother who was in the U.S. on a tourist visa wanted to extend her stay so she could care for her seven-year-old son, a U.S. citizen who had been diagnosed with end-stage renal disease. An expectant Ukrainian woman who had come to visit her cancer-stricken father extended her stay to care for him; during her extended visit, her child was born with a cleft palate. Seattle-area families in these situations can turn to the Medical-Legal Partnership for Children (MLPC). Davis Wright Tremaine helped launched the Seattle branch of this national network in 2008. The Partnership operates through two clinics in the Seattle area and provides a host of medical and related assistance—such as immigration services—to low-income patients and their families. Since the Partnership’s inception, DWT’s immigration attorneys and paralegals have provided assistance with visa extensions or reclassifications to numerous clients, allowing them to remain in the United States while they or their family members receive care at Seattle Children’s or Harborview Medical Center.
Partner Rich Rawson, an immigration attorney, welcomes the chance to help. “I had been doing immigration for a long time, and this sounded like a very worthy project,” notes Rawson. He typically works on two pro bono projects a year for the MLPC, meeting with each family and their social worker at one of the clinics to determine their needs. “These are families that are going through tough times,” he says. “The family is so focused and concerned about their medical issues that they don’t have the time or the energy to focus on immigration issues.” One of his clients was the mother of a 7-year-old boy who had end-stage renal disease. The mother was in the U.S. on a tourist visa to visit her son, who was a U.S. citizen. Rawson worked with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services to extend the woman’s visa so she could stay and be with her son while he received a liver transplant. In another case, Rawson obtained a visa extension for the Ukrainian woman whose child was born in the U.S. with a cleft palate. He did the same for the baby’s father, who flew to Seattle from Ukraine after the baby was born. The visa extensions allowed the parents to be together in Seattle while their infant underwent corrective surgery. Our attorneys’ and paralegals’ work for the MLPC is another example of leveraging the firm’s strengths to help the community. DWT counts among its clients numerous health care organizations and providers, as well as immigration clients. “It’s a natural fit for us to help these clients and their patients,” notes Rawson.
Associate’s Efforts Bring Healthy Water to Rwandans Several community health centers and villages in Rwanda—some 43,000 people—will have easy access to clean water thanks in part to the leadership and fundraising of an associate in our San Francisco office. James Williams, an associate in the commercial litigation group, had traveled to Rwanda after taking a law school class about the genocide of the 1990s. After law school, he and a couple of friends, including a Rwandan woman who now lives in the San Francisco Bay area, started a project to bring water to the small village of Gahanga. “Selfishly,” says Williams, “it was a way for me to get connected with Rwanda again.” After he joined the firm in July 2008, he approached partner Allison Davis about his pro bono work and asked whether she thought the firm would support it. She suggested he write a proposal for the firm leadership. Since then, attorneys and staff have contributed about $3,000 to help fund projects that will create sustainable community water sources that can be used safely and effectively on a daily basis. With the help of nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations located in Gahanga village, Williams learned that underground water contamination, caused by a landfill, was prevalent throughout the region. He continued to work with various philanthropic and nongovernmental organizations, working in Africa and throughout the world, to amend the plan. With the help of nonprofit groups such as Drop in the Bucket, Water Charity, and the Peace Corps, plus his contributions and donations from DWT colleagues, four projects were fully funded: • The Saburunduru and Kinyaga Water Project will repair a vital water source that serves 4,250 people living in two villages in a southern province of Rwanda, near the border of Burundi.
This project will touch the lives of up to 7,000 people and will be designated “DWT/Shartsis Friese,” in recognition of our support and that of Shartsis Friese, another San Francisco law firm. • The Murandi Health Center Project will help a community health center extend running water into its hospitalization rooms, drastically improving the work environment for staff and the quality of care for patients. • The Musha Health Center Project will provide running water to the consultation, pharmacy, surgery, and pediatric rooms of a small community health center. “Besides providing sustainable systems for healthy water, these projects are being developed on neutral sites, such as health centers or school property,” notes Williams. “If they are not, you can change the balance of power in the village.” Some of the funds contributed by DWT attorneys and staff will also be used to fund high-impact water-related projects in Kenya.
• The Murehe Health Post Water Project will install water in the maternity room and laboratory of a community health center that provides maternity care, vaccinations, HIV testing, and general consultation for children and adults. Pro Bono Report
New Reparations Program Aids Aging Holocaust Survivors DWT attorneys are helping Holocaust survivors with another reparations program offered by the German government. In 2009, our attorneys worked with Jewish Family Service in Seattle to help survivors apply for a “work repayment” program offered by the German government.
The new reparations program is offered through the German social security administration’s “ghetto pension law” (ZRBG is its abbreviation in German). About 15 attorneys in our Bellevue, Portland, and Seattle offices are working with Jewish Family Services of Portland and Seattle on the new program. Each participating attorney received training and provides about 10 to 15 hours of pro bono assistance with a survivor’s application. “Each survivor must be interviewed and a lengthy application must be filled out,” notes Portland associate Meghan Moran. If the client is unable to travel, attorneys visit the client’s home. Meghan is helping an 88-year-old man who lived and worked in the ghetto in Lodz, Poland. “The work my client performed, under other, non-war circumstances, would have started a social security fund for him,” explains Meghan. “The survivor may now apply for this social security payment as a monthly pension of sorts.” Also in our Portland office, partner David Rocker is assisting an 82-year-old man born in Warsaw, and partner Greg Chaimov is working with a client born in 1936 in Budapest. “I wanted to help Holocaust survivors in any way that I could,” says Meghan Moran. “There aren’t a lot of opportunities to do this in Portland or in 2010 due to the age of many survivors, so I jumped at the chance.”
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Monument, Warsaw, Poland
It Gets Better Project
(continued from page 2)
As of mid-November the It Gets Better Project had raised over $100,000 through foundation grants, individual donations, and t-shirt sales for The Trevor Project and GLSEN. Other exciting opportunities continue to emerge; for instance, Dutton, a division of Penguin Group USA, is publishing “It Gets Better” as a collection of essays from celebrities and ordinary people who want to share their stories. The book is scheduled for publication in March 2011, and Savage will donate his proceeds to the American Civil Liberties Union to support its efforts on behalf of LGBT youth. 8
Greg Chaimov is supervising the Portland team’s work, and Seattle partner Steve Caplow is supervising in that office. Other attorneys working this project include Michele Buck-Romero, Steven Davis, Rich Elliott, Modessa Jacobs, Nicholas Kampars, Bill Miner, Evan Shapiro, and Paul Southwick.
Our attorneys’ work for the It Gets Better Project has also produced benefits within the firm. “The catalyst this has been for people to talk about their own families—kids, relationships, et cetera—has been very powerful,” says Levy. “It’s been a great message and I think a very positive experience for many people.” Visit www.ItGetsBetter.org for more information.
Entertainment Attorney Helps Produce Report for U.N. Office Davis Wright Tremaine’s New York entertainment attorneys are noted for work ranging from managing the sale of world-famous musical works to representing theater producers, to pre-publication review for The Wall Street Journal and cable shows.
U.N. monitors the projects and their effects, particularly with respect to their impact on local food production.
Amid these matters, in which the team serves some of the world’s most successful purveyors of entertainment and news, are opportunities to apply the same expertise to issues of concern at the United Nations: human rights, global justice, and world hunger.
The report that the NYU Center wrote analyzed the work of several companies that invested in agricultural or other land-use projects in Africa and Pakistan. It examined how the companies are working with the local communities and tribal leaders, and the social, cultural, and environmental impacts of the projects, and discussed how companies and states investing in large-scale land deals must be held to standards of transparency and accountability to ensure that these deals do not threaten human rights and food security.
Elisa Miller, an entertainment attorney whose clients include Time Inc., Bauer Publishing, and Paramount Pictures, recently made time to assist the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University School of Law with a report it wrote with the school’s International Human Rights Clinic.
Elisa Miller provided pro bono pre-publication review of the report. Miller, who graduated cum laude from NYU School of Law, says, “I’d do anything to support NYU and its mission. It does valuable work, and their clinics give students valuable experiences in the clinics—work that might otherwise not be done.”
NYU School of Law created the Center to bring together the Law School’s teaching, research, clinical, internship, and publishing activities on issues of international human rights law. Through the clinic the School of Law gives law students practical experience in representing clients and researching and publishing papers on these issues. One of its recent projects is a report about foreign private investments in developing countries, written in support of the mission of Olivier de Schutter, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, who wrote the foreword to the report. Land-use projects owned by private companies from developed nations are a growing phenomenon in developing countries. “Since 2006,” wrote de Schutter earlier this year, “between 15 and 20 million hectares of farmland, the equivalent of the total arable surface of France, have been the subject of negotiations by foreign investors.” The
Miller, who graduated cum laude from NYU School of Law, says, “I’d do anything to support NYU and its mission. It does valuable work, and their clinics give students valuable experiences in the clinics—work that might otherwise not be done.”
United Nations, New York NY
Pro Bono Report
“The Intersection of Passion and Opportunity”: Milt Stewart on the Value of Pro Bono Portland partner Milt Stewart has been a mergers and acquisitions attorney for almost 40 years and serves as general counsel to a number of Northwest companies. Over the years Milt has been a leader in Davis Wright Tremaine’s diversity and pro bono programs, and has mentored many associate attorneys in professional and volunteer matters. Q: Milt, what types of pro bono work have you been most passionate about, and why? Stewart: I have focused on two categories. The first arose from my frustration, early in my career, with the inability of business lawyers to find pro bono projects which utilize a business lawyer’s skill and experience. About 10 years ago I met Scott Dawson, the dean of Portland State University’s Business School, to discuss their pro bono Business Outreach Program (BOP). This program provides business advice and management assistance to members of minorities forming new businesses in Portland. Scott asked Davis Wright Tremaine for a financial contribution. We didn’t have the money in the budget at the time, but I told him we had something even more valuable right away: our attorneys’ time. The dean accepted my offer. Four or five DWT associates agreed to represent the BOP’s clients with their legal needs. Many of the program’s clients were restaurants and other hospitality businesses, which of course is a sweet spot for Davis Wright Tremaine. It was a logical fit, and that made it easy, fun, and successful for the attorneys who participated, and it was of real value to the entrepreneurs we helped. This program also dovetailed with our diversity interests, because many of the program’s clients are African-American and other minority business owners. DWT’s participation in this program represents the confluence of multiple positive events: We are helping the community and a major urban university; we are giving our time and not just our treasure; and we are training and educating young business lawyers. I’m immensely proud of a program in which DWT and its lawyers are doing good and doing well at the same time.
The second area I’ve been passionate about is the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation. The foundation assists social entrepreneurs— people who use the marketplace to do good in society, such as through micro-lending— around the world. Davis Wright Tremaine has given both seed funding and volunteer time to the foundation. This pro bono work gives our attorneys experience in an international context. In many cases it provides our associates with their very first opportunity to do cross-border work. Overall, Lex Mundi has helped more than 400 worldwide organizations to be successful, be sustainable, and to create jobs in their communities. Milt Stewart
Q: What advice would you give a new associate about doing pro bono work? Stewart: Happiness and success lie at the intersection of passion and opportunity. Follow your passion. I’ve coached at least 30 or 40 young lawyers on business development. Not infrequently the topic of charitable and civic work comes up: “What pro bono work should I do? What organizations should I volunteer with?” My answer is always, “If you do what excites and interests you, you’ll be fulfilled and successful, and you will learn from the experience.” If we’re going to meet our firm’s pro bono goals and the American Bar Association’s standard, the only way we’ll succeed is by doing pro bono work that is consistent with who we are as a firm and who we are as people, and which uses our distinctive competencies. We need to work outside the box and look not just at what’s made available to us, but what we can create that serves others according to our passion.
Awards and Recognition Legal Services for the Homeless
Oregon State Bar
Seattle associate Michael Gentile received a thank-you note from a client who came to the firm through Legal Services for the Homeless. The client owed taxes to the government, and Michael negotiated with the IRS to get the taxes reduced. The client wrote:
The New Lawyers Division of the Oregon State Bar honored DWT’s Portland office with its Pro Bono Award in the “large firm” category.
“Thank you very much for helping me with all my IRS issues … Not knowing how I was going to pay this and afraid of being in trouble with the government, I appreciate you filling out my paperwork and getting me through the legal process. I have made two payments, have gotten a part time job to help with the others, and am ready to finish school and get a job and work.”
The Puget Sound chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators presented its annual “Achievements in Diversity Award” for law firms with more than 50 attorneys to DWT. DWT was honored for a firmwide Veterans Day panel discussion hosted by the firm’s diversity and pro bono programs. DWT provides pro bono assistance to several veteran’s service organizations.
Puget Sound Association of Legal Administrators
Medical-Legal Partnership for Children Rich Rawson, a partner in our Seattle office, received thanks from the Medical-Legal Partnership for Children, for whose clients he provides immigration assistance: “We are grateful for your generosity and willingness to give your time and legal expertise for people who face considerable challenges in their lives. Having someone like you on their side makes all the difference. We appreciate you and all you do for our children, families and community.”
Pro Bono Report
Information about our pro bono policy is available on our Web site at dwt.com/probono or by contacting: Julie Orr, Pro Bono Coordinator 206.757.8586 firstname.lastname@example.org For more information about Davis Wright Tremaine and our attorneys, visit dwt.com, email email@example.com or call toll-free 877.398.8415.
Pro Bono and Public Service Committee Robert Corn-Revere | Chair | Washington, D.C. Michele Buck-Romero | Portland Hozaifa Cassubhai | Seattle Eric L. Dahlin | Portland Stephen C. Ellis | Seattle Jennifer Toland Frewer | Washington, D.C. Gabrielle Goldstein | San Francisco Derek Green | Portland Lisa Kohn | Los Angeles Seth Levy | Los Angeles David V. Marshall | Bellevue Elisa Miller | New York Clark Stanton | San Francisco Linda Steinman | New York Robert K. Stewart | Anchorage Julie Orr | Pro Bono Coordinator | Seattle
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Published on Feb 1, 2011
Our lawyers and staff are committed to obtaining equal justice for people and organizations that might otherwise not have access to legal as...