The Power of Pro Bono

In the run-up to next Thursday’s McKinney-Vento Awards, we’ll be featuring a series of posts on our honorees and distinguished guests.  Make sure you keep checking back!

At the Law Center, we like to say we’re “changing laws and changing lives.”  And we are.  In 2009, we helped pass the HEARTH Act, which increased funding for anti-homelessness programs and directed the government to develop the first ever Federal Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.

But victories like that aren’t possible without the support of our pro bono law partners.  The Law Center employs a highly skilled, but small staff.  Pro bono assistance allows it to accomplish much more than it could on its own, supporting its work across every program area.

“Pro bono work has always been important, but since the economic crisis, it’s become more and more vital to individuals and organizations that couldn’t otherwise access services,” says Katharyn Christian, the Law Center’s new pro bono coordinator.  “It’s key to achieving our mission; we wouldn’t be able to assist or impact nearly as many homeless individuals without assistance from our pro bono partners.”

This past year, law firm Dechert LLP’s pro bono work was particularly strong.  Its attorneys addressed issues related to unaccompanied homeless youth, access to education for homeless children, and the human right to housing.  Their research and analysis will help fulcrum our advocacy in those areas.

We’ll use their work to fight for homeless children’s right to privacy and quality education, and for a recognition of housing as a human right in America.  These are big, complicated issues, but Dechert’s pro bono assistance helps us move forward in the fight to end and prevent homelessness for millions of people.

“Dechert’s been really phenomenal for us,” says Law Center Legal Director Karen Cunningham.  “They’re always looking to take on new work, and they’re willing to address urgent matters on very short notice.  It’s not just one office either.  They’ve engaged attorneys at all levels, across multiple offices.  We really couldn’t ask for a better partner.”

It should come as no surprise, then, that Dechert was ranked third in The American Lawyer’s annual pro bono rankings.  Collectively, its attorneys dedicate tens of thousands of hours to pro bono work each year.  It’s ingrained in the firm’s culture.  The Law Center looks forward to continued collaboration with Dechert toward the ultimate goal of ending American homelessness.

We hope you’ll join us when we honor Dechert LLP at our 12th Annual McKinney-Vento Awards on Thursday, October 14, at 6 pm.  Barbara Ehrenreich, the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania, and the formerly homeless Elzer family will also be honored.  The evening’s keynote address will be delivered by U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan.

Click here for more information and to purchase your tickets.

- Andy Beres, Grant Writer & Communications Assistant

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One Response to The Power of Pro Bono

  1. Pingback: About Homelessness » Blog Archive » National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty to host McKinney-Vento Awards

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