Porter Wright has a long and distinguished history providing pro bono legal services to the communities we serve. From the earliest days of the firm, to recent activities to aid immigrants, veterans, victims of domestic violence and persons harmed by consumer fraud, the firm is committed to helping individuals and groups who have critical legal needs but who are unable to obtain counsel due to economic limitations.
The firm has received a number of awards for its pro bono work, including the Columbus Bar Foundation’s highest award for outstanding pro bono service on three occasions. It has been named to the Public Interest Law Initiative’s Pro Bono Recognition Roster for its work in Illinois, received the Southwest Florida Federal Bar Association’s pro bono award, and the Legal Services Corporation in Cleveland honored Porter Wright for its “commitment to providing equal access to justice” through its pro bono efforts with the Ohio State Legal Services Association.
Though our lawyers and professionals engage in a diverse portfolio of pro bono cases each year, much of our work concentrates on the rights of children and families. In addition to those areas, the firm each year tackles matters related to fair housing, landlord/tenant disputes, bankruptcy, veterans’ affairs, immigration, consumer fraud and constitutional due process violations. The firm also continues to assist in death penalty appeals.
Members of the firm’s Chicago Office recently won asylum for a family from Nigeria, the female members of which risked genital mutilation if they were forced to return to Nigeria.
Porter Wright settled a class action immigration case with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) it filed on behalf of its pro-bono client and a class of 75,000 workers. A delay with USCIS in providing printed Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) had led to many workers losing their jobs. In the settlement, the USCIS agreed to print the required documents within established time frames, and to allow the applicants to present the approval notice as sufficient documentation until the printed document was produced. The lead attorney, Rob Cohen, earned The American Lawyer Midwest Trailblazer award for this work.
Porter Wright obtained two pro-bono immigration case victories with co-counsel, Advocates for Basic Legal Equity (ABLE), in the Southern District of Ohio. In one case, the judge ruled in favor of a class of U.S. citizens who were children of foreign-born parents who were being denied driver’s licenses due to their parents’ immigration status. The second case involved individuals who held a valid refugee admission document but had not yet adjudged their status to lawful permanent resident and were being denied driver’s licenses and other Ohio identification cards. The judge also ruled in favor of the class.
Porter Wright attorneys have worked with the Capital Law School family law legal clinic for many years on children and family law cases.
Recently the firm has assisted Equality of Ohio representing members of the Ohio LGBTQ+ community.
Our Pittsburgh office has partnered with KidsVoice, a non-profit agency that advocates in court and in the community to ensure a safe and permanent home for abused, neglected, and at-risk children. One of the programs in which we are involved is to help represent children who have received summary offenses in magistrate court. We have also taken steps towards establishing a second pro bono program with KidsVoice to serve as a third party administrator (trustee) of a compensatory education trust for the benefit of the children.
Porter Wright’s Chicago office has a long standing relationship with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH). The firm provided counsel to CCH and Access Living in a federal lawsuit seeking to make homeless shelters accessible to individuals with disabilities.
At the request of the federal court in Columbus, the firm successfully represented a number of persons on a pro bono basis who claimed their constitutional rights have been violated. One such case resulted in an elderly man being properly released from prison.
The Cincinnati and Dayton offices joined forces to work with the Pro Bono Partnership of Ohio to provide legal services to economically disadvantaged families in Southwestern Ohio.