Pro Bono & Community Service

Troutman Sanders is proud of its commitment to the communities we share with our clients and employees.  Our attorneys and staff provide leadership and direct service to nonprofit organizations addressing the needs of each of the communities in which we work.  Troutman Sanders employees generously volunteer their time on nonprofit Boards, organize fundraising walks, conduct book collection drives for neighborhood schools and provide labor to build and renovate homes for low-income families.

Each year, our lawyers and paralegals devote thousands of hours to pro bono legal services.  They serve the legal needs of a wide range of clients – from individuals faced with eviction from their homes, to families seeking educational services for their special needs children, to non-profits trying to get organized.  Helping clients who cannot afford to pay for legal services is not only in the finest tradition of our profession.  It is the right thing to do. I am pleased to report that in 2008, the Firm signed The Pro Bono Institute's Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge, thereby committing our firm to use its best efforts to annually contribute 3% of the firm's total billable hours, or 60 hours per attorney, to pro bono work. Developed by law firm leaders and corporate general counsel, the Challenge articulates a single, unitary standard by which major law firms can acknowledge their institutional, firm-wide commitment to provide pro bono legal services to low income and disadvantaged individuals and families and non-profit groups.  More than 140 firms throughout the country have signed the Challenge.  I am proud of all our professionals who devote their time and talent to serving our fellow citizens.  Below are snapshots of our pro bono program and community service activities.

 -Robert W. Webb, Jr., Chairman 

Pro Bono Projects


Community Service Projects

Contact Information

For more information about the firm’s pro bono program, please contact Terri Hendley, Pro Bono Manager, at  or 404.885.3176.

Eviction Defense

Volunteer attorneys from Troutman Sanders Atlanta Office and another Atlanta law firm handled over 60 landlord tenant cases for Atlanta Legal Aid over the past year through the Eviction Defense Project, a pro bono effort between Legal Aid and the firms. 

In our New York Office, Troutman lawyers serve as court-appointed advocates for tenants facing eviction from their New York City apartments. Many of these clients have a physical or mental disability which prevents them from properly protecting their rights.  Each case is different but invariably involves low or no-income adults who must get city, state or federal funds to assist in the payment of rent.  Consequently, Troutman volunteers spend a fair amount of time assisting in advocating for eligibility in Medicaid, Social Security disability, food stamps, or other benefits programs.

International Pro Bono Initiatives

Lawyers in the Firm's Shanghai office assisted the founders of GIGA (Green Ideas Green Actions), an experimental program advocating green design and sustainable solutions in China.  The lawyers helped the program establish a cross-border legal platform to solicit public donations to finance the project and a legal structure to host the GIGA project in the highly regulated environment for both NGOs foundation and online services in China.   Our lawyers also advised GIGA on their contractual relationship with a Chinese government-sponsored foundation to leverage government resources as well as protect the business interests and intellectual property rights of GIGA.

Throughout the world, Operation Smile volunteers repair childhood facial deformities especially in cleft lips and palates while building public and private partnerships that advocate for sustainable healthcare systems for children and families. Together, volunteers create smiles, change lives, and heal humanity. The Operation Smile China Medical Mission was established in Hong Kong in 1991 to carry out medical missions and fund medical programs especially in China. Its voluntary medical teams have since traveled to over 24 cities and helped more than 8,800 children in China. A Troutman Sanders associate in the Hong Kong office sits on the board of Operation Smile China Medical Mission and is currently assisting it to set up its non-profit branch in China under new regulations allowing foreign non-profit organizations to be established in China.

Helping a Prisoner Establish a Claim of Innocence

A team of lawyers in the Richmond office made history in June of 2005, when the Roanoke County Circuit Court held a hearing on Aleck Carpitcher’s Petition for Writ of Actual Innocence, making him one of the first people to receive a hearing since the writ was created in 2004.

“This is a landmark case because it is one of the first hearings involving non-biological evidence held under the Writ of Actual Innocence statute,” said Steve Northup, a partner in the Richmond office and a board member of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, which recruited Troutman Sanders to take the lead in the case.

In 1999, Carpitcher was convicted of sexually assaulting a then 9-year-old girl and was sentenced to 73 years in prison.  The girl was the only witness against Carpitcher, but he nonetheless was convicted.

The girl recanted her testimony in 2000 – nine months after Carpitcher was convicted – but Carpitcher could not present the evidence because of Virginia’s 21-Day Rule.  She has not changed her testimony since 2000, and Virginia’s Writ of Actual Innocence statute made it possible to bring the evidence before the court.

In November 2004, as the statute requires, the Petition was filed with the Virginia Court of Appeals.  The Court of Appeals ordered the Circuit Court to determine:  (1) whether the girl recanted; and (2) whether she was pressured or coerced to change her story.

Following the Circuit Court's findings in October, 2005, the Court of Appeals declined to issue a writ of innocence notwithstanding the girl’s recantation.  The case is now on appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court.   A final ruling in the case is expected later this year.  Notwithstanding the inability to obtain relief for the client thus far, the case is important and historic because it is one of the few cases under Virginia’s Writ of Actual Innocence statute to have survived the initial filing of the Petition with the Court of Appeals and to have proceeded to a hearing.

Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)

Troutman has joined Microsoft Corporation, Angelina Jolie and about 30 other major law firms in an innovative project named Project KIND (Kids in Need of Defense), a program to represent immigrant children in the United States who are separated from their families and must go through the U.S. immigration process unrepresented by counsel.

D.C. Partner Wally Christensen was named to KIND Board in 2010. Other Board Members include: Brad Smith, Angelina Jolie, Pamela Passman, Lydia Tamez, Howard Buffett, John Bul Dau, Sonia Nazario, Kathleen Newland, Ambassador Eller Sauerbrey and Ronald Schechter.

Death Penalty Representation

Teams of lawyers in our Richmond and Atlanta offices have represented both state and federal death row prisoners in pursuing habeas corpus relief from their death sentences.

Troutman Sanders Provides Free Basic Estate Planning to Low-Income Individuals with Cancer

In addition to preparing advance directives and nominations of guardian for cancer patients at Atlanta's Grady Health System's Cancer Clinic, Troutman Sanders attorneys and paralegals make weekly visits to DeKalb Medical Center in Atlanta to prepare these documents for in-patients at DeKalb Medical Center in emergent situations.

Troutman Partners with Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation to Prepare Wills for Emergency Personnel in Alpharetta and East Point, Georgia

Attorneys and paralegals at Troutman Sanders, Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc., AT&T and Cousins prepare wills for firefighters and police officers in Alpharetta and East Point.

2010-2011 Recognitions for Pro Bono Efforts

For his service and dedication to the Washington, D.C. creative community, Richmond partner Hank Heyming will receive the 2011 Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts Large Law Firm Attorney of the Year Award. Hank will be presented with the Award at WALA’s "Celebrating Our Arts Patriots" Spring Reception honoring George Washington Law School Small Business Legal Clinic Professor Susan P. Jones on Thursday, May 5th at The Atlas Theater in Washington, D.C.

Hank is also the focus of Chapter 13 in the recent New York best seller The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk. http://thankyoueconomybook.com/

At the June 25, 2010 Broadmoor Bench & Bar, the Federal Circuit Bar Association will proudly recognize Troutman Sanders LLP for its support of the general, government, and veterans pro bono programs. Incoming Chief Judge Rader (Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit) will participate in the recognitions.

Troutman Sanders has been chosen as Capital Area Immigrants' Rights Coalition's 2010 Law Firm Partner of the Year in recognition of the Firm's outstanding commitment to helping insure that detained immigrants have access to legal representation.

Troutman Sanders Selected as a Recipient of the 2010 Beacon of Justice Award by the National Legal Aid and Defender Association for its significant contributions to pro bono representation in the area of immigration law.

Holocaust Reparations Project

Troutman joined a national effort to provide legal assistance to Holocaust survivors in applying for reparations from a "Ghetto Work" reparations program established by the German government last fall. The German reparations program provides a one-time €2,000 Euro (nearly $3,000 US) payment to Holocaust survivors who worked while living in a German-controlled Ghetto. The German government estimates that there are at least 50,000 Holocaust survivors alive today who may qualify for these new reparations funds, with approximately 20,000 of those survivors living in the United States. One of the nation’s premier public interest law firms, Bet Tzedek, ("The House of Justice" in Hebrew), is organizing legal clinics throughout the United States to help qualifying survivors apply for the reparations.

Troutman Sanders Attorneys file an Amicus Brief with the United States Supreme Court

A team of attorneys at Troutman Sanders (Barbara Etkind, Prashant Khetan, Megan McClellan and Bill Hurd) recently filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in support of a petition for certiorari on the issue of whether a court may look outside the four corners of an individualized education plan when evaluating the content of that plan. The case is Jacob Winkelman, et al., v. Parma City School District. Troutman's amicus brief was filed on behalf of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), in coordination with The Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Children’s Law Center of the University of Richmond School of Law, Disability Law & Advocacy Center of Tennessee, Easter Seals of Northern Ohio, Inc., Parentadvocates.org, and Parents for Autistic Children’s Education. The Court deliberates over the summer about which cases it will hear in the October session. Click here to read the amicus brief and here for a press release by AOTA.

American Cancer Society

Attorneys and staff in the New York office participated in the American Cancer Society’s “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk,” a five-mile fundraising walk in Central Park.  The event is a noncompetitive walk supporting the American Cancer Society's unique mission to fight cancer on four fronts: research, education, advocacy, and patient services.

In Atlanta, Troutman Sanders has recently announced a new partnership with the American Cancer Society and the Atlanta Legal Aid Society in which it will provide free basic estate planning on a pro bono basis to eligible low-income individuals with cancer.  The two organizations organized a joint team for the “Marking Strides” walk in Atlanta to celebrate this partnership.

The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation

In Raleigh, Tysons Corner, and Atlanta, attorneys and staff participated in he Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation’s “Passionately Pink for the Cure” fundraiser.  Attorneys and staff celebrated their personal contributions to the Komen Foundation by donning pink ribbons, wearing pink and enjoying “Blue Jean Fridays.”

For more than 20 years, the Foundation has been a global leader in the fight against breast cancer through its support of innovative research and community-based outreach programs.  Working through a network of U.S. and international Affiliates and events like the Komen Race for the Cure®, the Komen Foundation is fighting to eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease by funding research grants and supporting education, screening and treatment projects in communities around the world.

EIF Women's Cancer Programs

In Richmond, Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Troutman Sanders attorneys and staff participated in the national Lee Denim Day to raise funds for EIF (Entertainment Industry Foundation) Women’s Cancer Programs.  Pink ribbons and jeans were the rule of the day as the Richmond office showed their support of this worthy cause.

EIF is committed to saving lives by raising awareness of the importance of early detection of breast and reproductive cancers and providing funds to advance early detection and treatment research, as will as support to community programs that assist the millions of women and their families at risk of or affected by cancer.  Programs include the Women's Cancer Research Fund, which focuses on early detection of cancer and supporting EIF's Breast Cancer Biomarker Discover Project; and the National Women's Cancer Research Alliance, which funds some of the most promising research being conducted today to develop new and more effective approaches to the treatment of women's cancers.

American Heart Association

Both the Atlanta and Richmond offices fielded teams to participate in their local Heart Walks benefiting the American Heart Association.  Each year millions of people participate in Heart Walks around the country.  The money that is raised each year will be used to fund the valuable research, education and advocacy efforts of the American Heart Association.    

The American Heart Association is the largest voluntary health organization working to prevent, treat and defeat heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. These diseases devastate millions of people of all ages and kill more than 930,000 Americans each year. To fight them the association supports research, education and advocacy, and helps heart disease and stroke patients. Over 22.5 million association volunteers and supporters are at work in their communities helping their friends, neighbors and loved ones live longer, better lives.

Rebuilding Together

Attorneys and staff from the Washington DC and Tysons Corner Offices joined together for a project for National Rebuilding Day.  They worked together to rehabilitate the home a DC homeowner of limited means and capabilities.  The Troutman team undertook several projects, including restoring electrical power to front lights and installation of new exterior and interior light fixtures; painting and wall repair; replacement of counters and installation of kitchen pantry; and yard work and landscaping.

Rebuilding Together's mission is to preserve and revitalize houses and communities, assuring that low-income homeowners, from the elderly and disabled to families with children, live in warmth, safety, and independence. In partnership with communities, the organization’s goal is to make a sustainable impact.  Necessary repairs are provided to existing homeowners free of charge, enabling them to live independently and with dignity.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington

For a number of years, attorneys in Troutman Sanders’ Washington DC office have participated in “Intake Days” sponsored by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington.  At the intakes, the firm’s volunteer lawyers interview needy individuals with legal problems and assist them in finding counsel to help them to address these problems.  Volunteers regularly address consumer, family law, landlord/tenant, employment law, and benefits issues.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington is the largest private social service agency in Washington, DC and surrounding Maryland counties. Each year, the organization serves 80,000 men, women and children through 50 social service programs at 26 community sites. Its programs embrace all needy members of our community, regardless of race, religion or national origin.  Emphasis is placed on building relationships in the community, reaching out to those in need and maintaining a welcoming environment with easy access to services.

Contact Information

For more information about the firm’s community service program, please contact Sallie Daniel at  or 404.885.3277.
 
   
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