2019 Pickering Award Recipient


Pro Bono Institute (PBI) is proud to present the 2019 John H. Pickering Award, in conjunction with Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr (WilmerHale) and the Pickering family, to Goodwin Procter LLP in recognition of the firm’s outstanding institutional commitment to pro bono and the inspiring pro bono performance of its attorneys and staff.

Goodwin, a member of PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project and a signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® initiative, has been a longstanding leader in pro bono since its founding over a century ago. In the Depression years, Goodwin attorneys were involved in public investigations of corruption and malfeasance, as well as cases involving constitutional issues. In the 1940s, Goodwin attorneys presented part of America’s case against the Nazis at Nuremberg. And, in 1968, legendary Goodwin litigator Samuel Hoar, Jr. co-founded the Boston Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights (now Lawyers for Civil Rights). He, like his father before him, was a longtime Goodwin partner who firmly believed that every member of the bar has a professional obligation to use their legal training for the benefit of the greater public good.

More recently, firm attorneys and staff have dedicated roughly 65,000 pro bono hours to more than 1,000 pro bono clients each year. Goodwin’s clients include individuals, families, small business owners, and social enterprises, as well as nonprofit organizations focused on promoting the public good. Goodwin’s commitment to pro bono is an essential component of the firm’s culture and values.

Goodwin formalized its pro bono program in 1999, establishing a Pro Bono Committee and creating a professional position focused on maximizing impact and broadening engagement. With a continued emphasis on civil and public rights, the firm expanded its program to include a range of business-related pro bono matters and initiatives. Those efforts culminated in 2001 in the establishment of the Neighborhood Business Initiative (“NBI”). Through NBI, Goodwin’s attorneys have forged relationships with community groups and technical assistance providers, building an innovative program to serve the business legal needs of low-income entrepreneurs and small business owners in underserved neighborhoods and businesses that positively impact inner-city areas. Goodwin also represents local, national, and international nonprofit organizations working in areas such as education, business lending and microfinance, health and safety, peace building and democracy initiatives, historic preservation, and environmental protection.

Goodwin’s pro bono work has produced signature achievements throughout the firm’s history:

  • The firm secured access to a public school education for homeless children in National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, et al. v. State of New York, et al., a landmark New York decision with national implications.
  • Goodwin was a catalyst for Massachusetts to be the first U.S. state to recognize same-sex marriage.
  • Goodwin successfully formed a chartered bank in the South Bronx that offers quality banking in a neighborhood critically underserved in financial services.
  • The firm drove the formation of the One Fund, in collaboration with municipal and business leaders, to provide real time financial support to victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
  • Goodwin supported an associate who successfully argued a seminal immigration case before the U.S. Supreme Court (Pereira v. Sessions).
  • Most recently, the firm filed an amicus brief in Department of Commerce v. NY, the U.S. Supreme Court case concerning the proposed addition of a citizenship question to the U.S. Census.

Goodwin also has developed innovative pro bono opportunities that are easily accessible to its attorneys. Last year, the firm held 15 on-site legal clinics throughout its offices, transforming conference rooms into legal services centers and assisting clients with naturalization, DACA, and criminal record-clearing issues. The firm also created two popular “on demand” remote pro bono opportunities that involve conducting preliminary file reviews for inmates claiming their innocence and guiding transgender clients through the name change process. These programs benefit clients as well as firm attorneys, by offering training and high-touch mentoring for attorneys working in areas new to their practice.

Through innovation, leadership, and creativity, the firm’s pro bono work has expanded and diversified, serving an ever-growing number of clients with evolving legal issues.

About the John H. Pickering Award
PBI’s award is given in honor of the late John H. Pickering, a distinguished appellate attorney and leader in the legal profession who was equally well known for his extraordinary commitment to pro bono and the public interest. PBI presents the award in conjunction with his law firm, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr (WilmerHale), and the Pickering family to honor a law firm for its outstanding commitment to pro bono legal services. Read more about the award and view a list of previous recipients.