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Big Law Acted on Impulse in Outpouring of Pro Bono Effort

June 27, 2018, The American Lawyer

Alan Pemberton is quoted by The American Lawyer in an article accompanying the publication's Pro Bono Survey results. According to Pemberton, "The 2016 election acted as a kind of catalyst as it awakened in many of our lawyers a sense of engagement in public service matters generally." He adds that the current political climate spurred lawyers to do pro bono work, regardless of whether it was directly related to politically charged issues.

The firm was ranked number two on the publication's U.S. pro bono ranking. Pemberton highlights the firm's representation of the University of California in challenging the federal government attempt to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as well as the representation of Greater Birmingham Ministries and the Alabama NAACP in a federal lawsuit challenging Alabama's photo voter ID law.

However, Pemberton notes that most lawyers at Covington worked in 2017 on the same kinds of cases they were already handling before the election, such as asylum, indigent criminal defense, police practices challenges, and civil legal aid matters. The firm's lawyers averaged 156 hours in 2017, and Pemberton says the firm has been close to that level in the past. The firm takes on its share of big cases that require many hours, he says, but lawyers have lately been handling more smaller matters. "We have opened 422 more matters in just the past 12 months, which is way more than one a day, and that's just our U.S. offices," he says.

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