Media Release


PBI to Honor O’Melveny & Myers LLP

Pro Bono Institute® (PBI®), in conjunction with Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP and the Pickering family, is proud to present its 2021 John H. Pickering Award to O’Melveny in recognition of its outstanding institutional commitment to pro bono and the inspiring pro bono performance of its lawyers and staff.

O’Melveny is receiving this prestigious honor because of its longstanding leadership in pro bono and access to justice and because its program’s focus on tackling the issues of today. O’Melveny’s robust and award-winning pro bono practice extends the firm’s commitment to exceptional client service to underrepresented members of society, addressing critical issues such as immigration, housing, women’s rights, foster care, education, veterans affairs, criminal justice reform, voting rights, and community building. O’Melveny’s pro bono clients—from military veterans to LBGTQ clients asserting their fundamental rights to nonprofits stitching together a social safety net—are as diverse as the communities the firm serves. And O’Melveny continues to challenge itself to do more.

“We applaud O’Melveny for their sustained engagement in pro bono, the depth and breadth of their program, and the unwavering commitment of firm leadership in support of access to justice,” said Eve Runyon, PBI President and CEO.

“We are honored to receive the Pro Bono Institute’s John H. Pickering Award. We have long admired the work of the Pro Bono Institute and revered John H. Pickering as a pro bono visionary—an accomplished appellate attorney who recognized the unique power lawyers have to effect change,” said Bradley J. Butwin, Chair of O’Melveny. “From the earliest days of the firm, that’s also a goal we have pursued at O’Melveny. Today we remain deeply committed to defending the rights of the most vulnerable members of society—an effort that mobilizes lawyers and staff at all levels of the firm.”

Today the firm’s pro bono program operates under the leadership of a partner-in-charge of pro bono, a full-time managing counsel for public interest and pro bono services, and a full-time pro bono counsel, as well as designated pro bono partners in each office. To underscore O’Melveny’s commitment, all attorneys are encouraged to complete at least 50 hours of pro bono work annually, with a 20-hour minimum expectation, and all new lawyers are required to handle at least one pro bono engagement during their first year at the firm. Additionally, each pro bono hour is treated the same as “billable” hours for all purposes, including bonus consideration. In 2020, O’Melveny devoted approximately 99,062 hours to pro bono, with participation from over 94 percent of its attorneys.

About O’Melveny
Founded in 1885 as a two-person practice in Los Angeles, O’Melveny handled much of the seminal work supporting the city’s development into a major metropolis. In the years since, O’Melveny has emerged as an elite US firm with respect to pro bono and beyond. Its resources include approximately 750 lawyers in 17 offices around the world.  The firm takes pride in its focus on culture, collaboration and community.  More information on O’Melveny can be found at or learn more in our firm at-a-glance,  and on LinkedIn, TwitterFacebookInstagram, and YouTube.

About Pro Bono Institute

Founded in 1996, PBI is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization. With an unparalleled depth of knowledge, resources, and expertise, PBI is the respected resource for all things pro bono. Through our work with law firms, in-house corporate legal departments, and public interest organizations, PBI is the global thought leader in exploring, identifying, evaluating, catalyzing, and taking to scale new approaches to and resources for the provision of legal services to the poor, disadvantaged, and other individuals or groups unable to secure legal assistance to address critical problems.

About the John H. Pickering Award

John H. Pickering, a founding partner of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering (now Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr), was a distinguished appellate lawyer and a leader of the legal profession who was well known for his extraordinary commitment to pro bono and public interest law. He served on PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project Advisory Committee from its inception in 1989 until his death in March 2005. The Pickering Award is given annually to a law firm that embodies Pickering’s spirit of service and demonstrates the exceptional culture of pro bono service he worked to imbue in his firm.