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2018 Pickering Award Recipient

Pro Bono Institute (PBI), in conjunction with Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr and the Pickering family, is proud to present its 2018 John H. Pickering Award to Covington & Burling in recognition of its outstanding institutional commitment to pro bono and the inspiring pro bono performance of its lawyers and staff.

Covington, a founding member of PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project and a charter signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® initiative, has been a long-time leader in pro bono.

Since its founding 100 years ago, Covington has been committed not only to the highest professional standards of representation but also to public service. In 2017, Covington lawyers devoted more than 146,000 hours to representing organizations and individuals in pro bono matters.

Much of Covington’s pro bono work serves economically disadvantaged individuals and families in the firm’s surrounding communities. The firm’s longstanding loaned associate program reflects this commitment; since the program was established in 1969, nearly 300 Covington associates have worked for 6-month stints at D.C.-based civil legal aid organizations.

The firm also handles numerous impact litigation and systemic reform projects across the U.S. on a range of issues including immigration, LGBTQ equality, the First Amendment, gun violence prevention, criminal justice, mental health, voting rights, and veterans’ benefits.

Among the firm’s most noteworthy accomplishments in the last year, Covington achieved a number of important impact litigation victories. Last November, Covington and the ACLU secured a nationwide preliminary injunction halting the ban prohibiting transgender troops from serving in the armed services. In January, the firm secured a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking the federal government’s effort to shut down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, providing a crucial safety net for Dreamers, who otherwise would be at risk of deportation from the only country they know as home. In April, Covington, as counsel to the City of Los Angeles, secured a permanent, nationwide injunction against Department of Justice policies favoring cities that use law enforcement funds to assist with federal immigration enforcement. In July, the firm and its co-counsel, the ACLU, The Center for Gender & Refugee Rights, and Human Rights First, secured a preliminary injunction blocking the federal government’s arbitrary detention of asylum seekers.

Internationally, Covington helped usher in a new age of accountability in the global fashion industry when it launched arbitrations against two global fashion brands under the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a five-year, legally binding agreement between brands and trade unions created in the wake of the 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse to make garment factories in Bangladesh safe workplaces. With Covington’s assistance, global labor union federations IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union settled the first arbitration in December 2017, securing substantial funds for factory remediation. The second arbitration was settled at the end of January 2018, when Covington secured a $2.3 million settlement on behalf of the global unions, representing one of the largest payments made by a brand to remedy workplace dangers in its supply chain.

The firm’s dedication to pro bono service and its willingness to pursue challenging, innovative, and ambitious matters make Covington a most deserving recipient of PBI’s 2018 John H. Pickering Award.