SRZ has a long history as a leader in pro bono with a myriad of initiatives to its credit. In 2005 it took another groundbreaking step when it hired Daniel Greenberg, who was formerly Attorney-in-Chief of The Legal Aid Society and Director of Clinical Programs at Harvard Law School, to fill the newly created position of Special Counsel for Pro Bono Initiatives. A year later, the Louisiana Bar Association awarded us its Pro Bono Publico Award for prevailing in a lawsuit against FEMA, keeping more than 150,000 families in hotel shelters after Hurricane Katrina destroyed their homes.
We served as co-counsel with the New York Civil Liberties Union in the historic settlement of Hurrell-Harring v. New York in 2015, which addressed the adequacy of standards, oversight and resources in the indigent defense system. In addition to this litigation, the firm has been an innovator in representing not-for-profit organizations on their business affairs. We regularly advise nearly 50 such entities with diverse missions, including Sanctuary for Families (defending battered women), Hedge Funds Care (raising money to support abused children) and Partners In Health (providing health care in underdeveloped countries such as Haiti, Peru and Rwanda). Our non-litigation support ranges from business transactions to intellectual property, real estate, tax, employment and general corporate matters. This allows the not-for-profits to focus their energies on mission-driven advocacy rather than the business end of their operations. We also represent a number of immigrants in asylum cases.
SRZ was also the first firm to place its summer associates in one-week internships with public interest organizations selected from among the firm’s regular pro bono clients.
Each year, SRZ hosts a Pro Bono Awards Ceremony to celebrate the work of attorneys who devoted more than 50 hours to pro bono projects and to recognize public interest organizations that work on behalf of the poor or otherwise engage a public policy issue to which the firm devotes substantial pro bono time.
SRZ and its individual attorneys are consistently recognized for their pro bono work:
- Who’s Who Legal 2015, Top 10 Leading Law Firms for Pro Bono
- Sanctuary for Families, 2015 Above and Beyond Award for Excellence in Pro Bono Advocacy
- Opportunity Agenda, 2015 Creative Change Award
- New York Law Journal, Lawyers Who Lead by Example, 2015 Pro Bono Award
- New York Council of Defense Lawyers, 2014 Norman Ostrow Award
- Women’s Housing and Economic Development Co., 2014 Pro Bono Leadership Award
- Lawyers Alliance for New York, 15 Year Circle, 2014 Cornerstone Awards
- Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, 2014 Robert F. Kennedy Justice Prize
- Urban Justice Center, 2013 Social Justice Award
- New York State Bar Association’s Committee to Ensure Quality of Mandated Representation, 2013 Award for Outstanding Achievements in Promoting Standards of Excellence in Mandated Representation
- National Legal Aid & Defender Award, 2013 Beacon of Justice Award
- Community Service Society, 2012 Pro Bono Award
- The Innocence Project, 2011 Pro Bono Award
- Sanctuary for Families, 2010 Law Firm Leadership Award
- Lawyers Alliance for New York, 2010 Cornerstone Award
- Public Justice, 2007 Trial Lawyers of the Year, Finalist
- Louisiana State Bar Association, 2006 Pro Bono Publico Award
- Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, 2006 Pro Bono Award
- National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, 2006 Pro Bono Counsel Award