Collaboration is key to successful pro bono . . . and at the core of the OneJustice network
OneJustice supports a network of 100+ nonprofit legal organizations, law firms, law schools and businesses. Each year this network provides life-saving legal help to over 275,000 Californians facing legal barriers to basic life necessities and core civil rights. You – like everyone in our network – are an essential part of the solution. Together we can remove the barriers that cause millions of our neighbors to suffer needlessly from solvable legal problems.
In honor of the work that our network does, each month we feature an interview with a different participant in the network. This month we interviewed Kate Fritz, Manager Partner at Fenwick & West and a terrific leader in the regional, statewide and national pro bono community.
Kate, you are involved in supporting and expanding pro bono not only at Fenwick & West, but also regionally, statewide, and even nationally. What efforts have you participated in, and how does the inform your work with OneJustice?
I am the Managing Partner at Fenwick & West and a partner in the litigation, intellectual property and privacy groups. In addition to efforts at Fenwick & West, I have been involved in pro bono efforts with the Bar Association of San Francisco and Santa Clara County Bar Association. I’ve also been involved in the firm’s over a decade of support for our Equal Justice Works fellows, who have individually developed impressive, sustaining projects that provide pro bono services and achieve results for a broad range of clients. I have participated in the Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Advisory Board, where we try to address common concerns and reach solutions to expand the breadth of pro bono work by law firms. More recently, I was honored to participate in the Legal Services Corporation’s Pro Bono Task Force, which gathered attorneys and judges from around the country who were committed to pro bono to think about the big issues and impediments to providing pro bono services to all in need, and ways to remove barriers and develop creative solutions. What I have learned in all of these efforts is that collaboration – across law firms, with lawyers in companies, through bar associations, with legal service providers, and with organizations that support the provision of pro bono services – is the key to really doing the work and making a difference. The core of OneJustice’s mission is to encourage and facilitate this kind of collaboration.
Tell us a little bit about how Fenwick & West approaches pro bono as a firm.
We have a firm-wide belief in the importance of pro bono that extends from partners, to associates to paralegals to our non-legal staff. Much of our firm’s pro bono work springs from the personal passions and commitments of our individual attorneys. Every practice group-corporate, intellectual property, litigation and tax-is represented in the types of pro bono projects we handle. Whether helping a small business with limited funds in an economically challenged community, a non-profit struggling to stay afloat, or an individual who needs direct representation on a domestic violence case, our attorneys approach pro bono projects with skill and integrity to achieve results with a real impact. Beyond individual cases, we contribute to the greater community by partnering with various public groups, in-house legal departments and local bar associations.
What have you enjoyed about working with OneJustice?
OneJustice is incredibly thoughtful, creative and collaborative in approaching pro bono issues. They are always thinking about the larger picture about how best to deliver pro bono resources in the most effective manner. Our Justice Bus experiences have been examples of this. They have enabled us to partner with legal service organizations, our Equal Justice Works Fellow and several corporate legal departments to provide legal services to rural areas. The entire staff at OneJustice is very passionate and committed to what they do, creative about solutions to impediments to providing legal services, and everyone in the organization is a joy to work with.
In addition to the pro bono collaborations, Fenwick & West also provides financial support to OneJustice’s programs. Why does the firm also make a charitable investment in OneJustice’s work?
OneJustice’s work has a far reaching impact that increases pro bono services to rural areas and also strengthens a network of 100+ nonprofit legal organizations, law firms, law schools and businesses. Making an investment in OneJustice leads to a direct impact in expanding the pro bono delivery system throughout California in a very tangible way.