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Pro Bono

One firm. One heart. Committed to change for the better.

As lawyers, we are committed to the principle that all persons are entitled to equal access to justice. The impoverished in our communities are often the least able to navigate or afford the complexities of legal representation. This has an impact beyond individuals to families and communities.

Greenberg Traurig’s commitment to leveraging our platform to serve our communities allows us to give a voice to those in need and maximize the impact of our pro bono efforts.

Providing volunteer legal services to the underserved and to the numerous civic and charitable organizations dedicated to assisting them is not only the right thing to do, but it is at the core of who we are. Whenever possible, we collaborate with our clients to maximize the impact of our efforts. Complementing the services our individual lawyers provide, the Holly Skolnick Fellowship Foundation enables us to serve as the largest sponsor of Equal Justice Works.

Representative Projects / Awards & Accolades

The following are representative examples of our pro bono commitment. For a full description of the awards and accolades that we have received for our pro bono work, click here.

Pro Bono Cases

LGBTQ+

Greenberg Traurig has a long history of supporting the LGBTQ+ community with its pro bono work. With the support of its Litigation, Immigration, and Transactional practice groups, GT attorneys have, among other things, represented LGBTQ+ individuals in asylum cases and name change petitions, and have assisted non-profits dedicated to supporting LGBTQ+ youth. GT attorneys also litigated a case that resulted in the Florida Department of Children and Families directing that Florida citizens seeking to adopt children may no longer be asked to state their sexual orientation. Please see below for details of our most recent LGBTQ+ pro bono cases.

In May 2019, attorneys in Greenberg Traurig’s Chicago office represented two of eight transgender women who filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of certain statutory restrictions on name changes in the State of Illinois. They had all been restricted from changing their names due to criminal convictions in the last decade.

GT worked with the Transformative Justice Law Project (TJLP) and one of GT’s Equal Justice Works Fellows, Lark Mulligan, to file suit on behalf of the clients in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. One of the women had been restricted from legally changing her name because of a 2015 conviction for aggravated battery in a public place and would not be eligible to change her name until 2026, according to the lawsuit. The GT team on this on this matter included: Shareholder Gregory Ostfeld; Associates Alexandra Block, Martin Kedziora, Lucia Marker-Moore, and Brian Straw; and Law Clerk Joe Leeson and Research Attorney Adam Masarek.


GT attorneys represented a 25-year-old biological woman who identifies as a lesbian, presents as a male, and uses masculine pronouns in an asylum case when he was forced to flee his home country of El Salvador due to threats and harm related to his sexual orientation. Upon entering the U.S., the client was detained and later connected with Human Rights First, with which the firm worked to represent him, He eventually granted asylum in the U.S. and immediately released. The attorneys who worked on this matter included: Shareholder Ginger Pigott and Associate Jennifer Kim.


Greenberg Traurig submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of the non-profit organization Children’s Rights, which supported the City of Philadelphia against a challenge to the city’s non-discrimination policy regarding LBGTQ+ foster parents. In March 2018, the city cited this policy when it refused to refer children to Catholic Social Services (CSS), a city-contracted agency that would not approve same-sex couples to be foster parents. CSS sued the city, and the trial court eventually ruled in favor of the city, holding that foster care agencies receiving public funding cannot discriminate against prospective LGBTQ+ foster parents or others on the basis of religious belief. CSS appealed the decision, claiming that the right to free exercise of religion and free speech entitled the agency to continue to receive referrals from the city while rejecting otherwise-qualified same-sex couples as foster parents. In April 2019, the Third Circuit upheld the lower court ruling concluding that the city’s non-discrimination policy is a neutral, generally applicable law, and that the religious beliefs of CSS do not entitle it to an exemption from that policy. The case is Sharonell Fulton et al. v. City of Philadelphia et al., Case No. 18-2574. The team who worked on this matter included: Shareholders Kendyl Hanks and Paul Ferrillo; Associates Justin Bernstein and Nicole Leonard; Research Attorney Adam Masarek; and Business Staff Member Thao Nguyen.

Veterans/Active Military

With more than 100 GT attorneys and staff identifying as veterans or active military personnel, GT is proud of its pro bono work representing veterans and active military in, among other things: obtaining veterans benefits; military appeals; family law matters; discharge upgrades; traffic, warrants and criminal defense; business advice and entrepreneurial support, and; the acquisition of new homes. GT has also created the Greenberg Traurig Military & Veterans Program (GTMVP), comprised of GT attorneys, many of whom are veterans, to coordinate and maximize GT’s pro bono efforts. GT also recently joined the Florida Governor’s Initiative on Lawyers Assisting Warriors (GILAW). As one of three spearheading law firms, GT will take referrals from GILAW of active military personnel who require pro bono assistance in a variety of civil legal manners. Please see below for details of our most recent veterans/active military pro bono cases.

In August 2018, GT attorneys from each of the firm’s five California offices successfully resolved a difficult family law case on behalf of a pro bono client who is an active duty sergeant in the Army. GT’s client was involved with a child custody dispute and divorce that could have threatened his Army career.

The case went to trial where the client and his spouse reached a favorable settlement. The client said that he received everything he wanted, including 50/50 custody of his children. The matter was referred to GT by the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. The attorneys who worked in this matter included: Shareholder Ginger Pigott; Associates Natassia Kwan and Richard Tabura; and Practice Group Attorney Idris Ishak.


GT attorneys assisted a Marine Sergeant in a claim against a mechanic with whom he left his truck while stationed in North Carolina. The mechanic’s shop — now out of business — overcharged storage fees, never fixed the truck as promised, and refused to return the vehicle. The GT team obtained a $7,075 judgment in small claims court against the owner of mechanic shop, and is now working on judgment enforcement. The matter was referred to GT by the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. The GT who worked on this matter included: Shareholder Vincent Chieffo; Associates Richard Tabura and Jamie Vogel; and Research Analyst Michael Ambrose.


GT Los Angeles office Of Counsel Adam Siegler represented a young recruit at Lackland Air Force in Texas who was facing immediate discharge based on a ruling already made against him. GT drafted a memorandum of support addressed to the recruit’s commander and coordinated with the Air Force legal authorities resulting in the Airman being retained.

Immigrants, Human Rights, and Refugees

With the support of its Immigration Practice, GT represents children, adults, and families in all manner of immigration proceedings. GT has represented undocumented children separated from their parents under the Zero Tolerance Policy; unaccompanied children in special immigrant juvenile and asylum proceedings; LGBTQ+ individuals in asylum proceedings; victims of domestic violence in violence against women act cases, and; Iranian Jews, Christians, and Baha’is in relocation petitions under the Lautenberg Program. Please see below for details of our most recent immigration pro bono cases.

GT attorneys represent a Chinese refugee, Ms. B, who fled from China to the U.S. After mailing religious materials to family members in her small village in China, her family’s home was raided by Chinese authorities, who assaulted and imprisoned her mother-in-law. The authorities posted a public notice identifying the refugee as anti-government and announcing that the refugee would be arrested if she ever returned to China. Ms. B applied for asylum. During her asylum hearing, her responses to the judge’s questions were inconsistent because the translator spoke a different dialect of Mandarin and Ms. B was confused by the questions. The judge denied her application, a decision upheld on appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeal (BIA). GT took the case on appeal to the Ninth Circuit, which held BIA erred in denying the refugee’s asylum application. The case was remanded for further consideration of the application. The attorneys who worked on the case include: Shareholder Tyler Andrews and Associates Bethany Rabe, Chrisdo Fan, and Jennifer Kim.


In 2018, GT attorneys, working with LegalHealth and New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), helped draft and lobby for the legislation to allow parents who are at risk of detainment or deportation based on immigration status to designate a standby guardian to care for their children in the event the parent is detained or deported. The New York Surrogate's Court Procedure Act (S.C.P.A.) § 1726 limited the ability of parents to appoint or designate a Standby Guardian to seriously ill individuals. This amendment broadens S.C.P.A. § 1726 to expand to immigrant parents who similarly face the possibility of separation from their families.


GT attorneys worked with the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) to represent six Iranian religious minorities with family in the United States whose applications to enter the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program under the Lautenberg Program were denied. To date, GT has successfully secured approval for two applicants who were reunited with family in the U.S. in February 2019, and another two who arrived in the U.S. in May 2019. The attorneys who worked on these matters are Shareholders Michael Karpeles and Frank Serbaroli and Associates Spencer Cercone, Timothy Cory, Brooke Hazan,  and Alexander Liebers.

Children/Families

With the assistance of its various Litigation practices and its Lobbying group, GT represents and works on cases supporting, children, and families in a variety of legal areas. GT represents the parents of children with disabilities, helping them to obtain appropriate educational services designed to help the child progress in school; parents in custody, visitation, and child support proceedings; individuals seeking family court orders of protection, and; incarcerated mothers in family court proceedings, among others. GT has also worked on behalf of children by successfully lobbying for the passage of legislation in Texas and Florida banning child marriage and  successfully lobbying for the passage of legislation in New York allowing parents at risk of deportation to designate a standby guardian for their children. Please see below for details of our most recent pro bono cases in this area.

GT attorneys and lobbyists, working with the to get legislation passed ending childhood marriages in Texas and Florida. Texas has some of the highest numbers of underage marriages in the U.S. GT is working on a similar bill with TJC in Florida.  The bills offer powerful protection for girls from being forced into marriage. In Texas, the bill requires anyone who marries in Texas to be a legal adult – age 18 or older, or a minor aged 16-17 who is court-emancipated. In Florida, the bill bans marriage under the age of 17, and provides that children at age 17 can marry, with parental consent, but face requirements such as a premarital preparation course. Also, 17-year-olds cannot marry someone more than two years older. The attorneys and lobbyists who worked on this matter are: Shareholders Agustin Corbella, Elizabeth Hadley, and Karen Kennard; and Associate Aaron Gregg.


GT attorneys represent the parents of children with disabilities in proceedings to free appropriate public educations for their children. In a recent, and ongoing, lawsuit, GT attorneys, with co-counsel Advocates for Children of New York, sued the New York City Department of Education (DOE) on behalf of the parents of three medically fragile students who require the personal attention of nurses while in school, to address their medical needs, and special transportation services. The litigation alleges that the city’s system for providing nurse services and transportation to medically-fragile students is woefully insufficient, resulting in two of the children in the litigation being out of school for two and three years. In denying the city’s motion to dismiss the case, a Judge for the Southern District of New York called the DOE’s approval process for the provision of nurse services “Kafkaesque.” The attorneys working on this matter include: Shareholder Caroline J. Heller and Associate Alena Markley

Criminal Justice

With the support of its Appellate and White-Collar Defense & Special Investigations practice groups, GT has provided pro bono assistance for individuals involved in the criminal justice system, such as individuals sentenced to life in prison for crimes committed as juveniles in re-sentencing proceedings and appeal. GT also engages in death penalty work, representing both organizations that oppose the death penalty and those currently sentenced to death. GT also represents organizations as amicus counsel in a variety of criminal justice issues. Please see below for details of our most recent pro bono cases in this area.

GT represented a Florida inmate in a resentencing proceeding. As a juvenile, the client, who has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, was sent to an adult prison after his conviction for minor offenses. When he was repeatedly victimized while he was incarcerated, he killed his attacker in self-defense. Due to his disability and earlier inadequate legal defense, the client was sentenced to life in prison without parole, and served 23 years until GT’s pro bono team successfully intervened. A multi-office GT team worked for 15 months on mitigation and expert discovery. After a hearing, in November 2018, Marion County, Florida Circuit Court Judge vacated the client’s life sentence without the possibility of parole in favor of a term that provides for the possibility of release in two years and a near-certain release in 11 years. The attorneys worked who on the matter included: Shareholder Joel Max Eads; Associates Beth A. Norrow and Kathryn Yankowski; and Paralegal Laura C. Jones.


GT represented a Pennsylvania inmate sentenced to a mandatory term life imprisonment without parole for a first-degree murder that he committed at age 17. At the time GT took over the client’s representation, he had served 28 years in prison and was 26 years old. After significant investigation, and the submission of a mitigation report and expert reports, which documented the client’s decades long dedication to mentoring fellow inmates and family members, the court held a resentencing hearing and resentenced the client to 28-years to life. The client met with the parole board a couple of months later, and was granted parole and released. Shareholder Caroline J. Heller worked on the matter.

Non-Profit

With the participation of GT’s Corporate, Real Estate, Tax, Intellectual Property & Technology, and other transactional practices, GT provides a panoply of services to non-profits around the globe, including advice and representation in, among other things: all real estate, leasing, and facility matters; tax; corporate; intellectual property, copyright, and trademark; labor and employment; insolvency, and; trusts and estates. Please see below for details of our most recent pro bono cases in this area.

In 2018, East Harlem Tutorial Program (EHTP) and East Harlem Scholars Academies, represented by GT New York attorneys, completed their $15.2 million purchase from the Archdiocese of New York of the former St. Lucy parish church and rectory in East Harlem, Manhattan. The site will be the future home of the East Harlem Scholars Academy High School.

GT, who has been a pro bono partner of EHTP for almost a decade, previously worked on the site assemblage for and development of the East Harlem Education Center. The attorneys who worked on this matter included: Shareholders Brandilyn Y. Dumas, Nick Hockens, Stephen L. Rabinowitz, and Jay A. Segal; Of Counsel Daniel G. Egers; and Associate Karen L. Geringer.


GT represented the Vera Institute of Justice, a criminal justice-reform advocate, in the negotiation of a lease for 35,000 square feet of office space at Industry City, an expansive former industrial complex in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, that has been transformed into one-of-a-kind business and retail space. Of Counsel Jill Strawbridge worked on this matter.


GT attorneys in Florida provide corporate and real estate work for Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Palm Beach County (HMHBPBC). The group’s mission is to improve birth outcomes and promote healthy families by providing access to care, education, and support to those facing the physical, emotional, economic, and social challenges of pregnancy and infant care. The GT team on this matter included: Shareholder Laura R. Whetstone and Associates Evelyn Cobos and Brandon Leon.


GT attorneys assisted Lost-N-Found Youth, an organization aimed at eradicating homelessness for LGBT+ youth in the Atlanta area, in helping the organization address and manage employment issues including review of policies and procedures, and workers compensation. Associate Christopher Walker worked on this matter with the assistance of Associate Andrew Smith.

Pro Bono Contacts
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