Pro Bono & Community Service
Many people have come to associate the term “pro bono” with legal work done voluntarily and without payment, but the Latin phrase has a broader meaning – “for the public good.” At Eckert Seamans, we take pride in our long-standing dedication to serving the public through pro bono legal work as well as community service, charitable giving, civic engagement, and service on boards and committees of nonprofit organizations.
Through regular volunteering, many Eckert Seamans attorneys and staff help to advance the missions of vital organizations within their communities. Volunteers from our Boston office can be found each month wearing their Eckert Seamans aprons as they serve lunch at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans. And through the firm’s partnerships with PHILADELPHIA READS and Reading is FUNdamental Pittsburgh, attorneys and staff in our Philadelphia and Pittsburgh offices, respectively, volunteer as literacy coaches, mentoring elementary-aged students one-on-one each week.
Across all of our offices, members of the Eckert Seamans team organize and lead charitable initiatives, competing amongst each other to raise money for deserving organizations throughout the year.
At Eckert Seamans, our pro bono clients receive the same high level of attention and dedication from our attorneys that our corporate clients have come to expect. Our Pro Bono Executive Committee oversees the intake of all of the firm’s pro bono legal work. Whenever possible, we partner with our clients on pro bono matters, which allows us to work together to achieve common goals as we serve our community. We also encourage our attorneys to connect with new potential pro bono opportunities of interest to them.
Each year, Eckert Seamans provides thousands of hours of pro bono legal services, worth millions of dollars. We perform pro bono work on behalf of organizations such as Neighborhood Legal Services, the Pittsburgh Pro Bono Partnership, Philadelphia VIP, the Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program, and local Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts programs.
In cooperation with the firm’s Nonprofit Group, our attorneys have recently helped set up 501(c)(3) organizations for a number of pro bono clients, including Hekima Place, a girls’ home in Nairobi, Kenya; two schools in Africa; and a coalition to assist small business corporations in disaster planning. Eckert Seamans has also recently completed pro bono work for an organization that supports an orphanage in Ethiopia, a historical preservation organization, an after school education programming, an organization engaged in clean energy and water efforts in India, and a youth soccer club that raises money for cancer research.
The firm has also assisted organizations such as: Fresh Artists, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit arts organization that amplifies the voice of children by increasing access to arts education; Growth Through Energy and Community Health (GTECH) Strategies, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit that cultivates the unrealized potential of people and places to improve the economic, social, and environmental health of our communities; and One Degree Solar, a venture-backed supplier of renewable energy products and services that improve lives for low-income, off-grid families across Africa. ODS solutions power lights, phones, fans, radios, and educational technology that enable families and small businesses to live healthier and more productive lives.
We are delighted to feature the good work our lawyers and staff are doing in the communities in which we live and work on our homepage. All of those past features are collected here for your enjoyment. We invite you to learn more about these deserving partner organizations via the links below.
- Eckert Seamans is proud to partner with Philadelphia Reads, a nonprofit organization that helps students in under-resourced schools build strong literacy skills. Attorneys and staff in our Philadelphia office meet with first grade students each week, and provide a creative blend of literacy enrichment, mentoring, and career education.
- Eckert Seamans has partnered with Reading is FUNdamental Pittsburgh to form the RIF Readers one-on-one lunchtime literacy mentoring program. Attorneys and staff in our Pittsburgh office meet with their second-grade reading buddies from a local school to build literacy skills and a love of reading in elementary school students.
- David Laigaie, a member of our Philadelphia office, recently celebrated the exonoration of his longtime pro bono client Terrance Lewis. Nearly three and a half years after the Supreme Court ruled that automatic life-without-parole sentences for juveniles were illegal, Terrance was released from prison. Learn more.
- Matthew Meade co-chaired the 2019 Yale Day of Service, during which approximately 2,500 alumni, family, and friends volunteered at 225 service sites across the country and around the world. In addition to co-chairing, Matt worked with the Yale swim team to help to organize a learn-to-swim program for inner city kids in New Haven.
- Amanda C. Scafidi provides pro bono services through the Women’s Bar Foundation’s Family Law Project (“FLP”). The FLP recruits, trains, and mentors attorneys, and collaborates with legal and social services to provide high quality representation and assistance to victims of domestic violence. The FLP is a unique organization because it is designed to meet the legal needs of the underserved in the legal services community who have already been denied representation by a legal services agency and who might otherwise ‘fall through the cracks.’ About half of the individuals served by the FLP are indigent, according to federal poverty guidelines; the remaining individuals we serve are low income and, thus, make too much money for legal services eligibility but earn too little to be able to afford to retain an attorney.
- Victoria Britton of our Princeton, New Jersey, office has partnered with Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) to provide pro bono legal assistance to undocumented children who enter the U.S. without a parent or legal guardian.
- Michelle Grady, a member of our Newark office, is a pro bono attorney with the NYC Bar Association FEMA Appeals Clinic, where she helps survivors of hurricanes in Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico file FEMA claims appeals. The devastating hurricanes of 2017 resulted in more than 4.5 million FEMA benefits applications from storm victims; the call for pro bono lawyers became clear when FEMA began issuing denials in November 2017.
- Michelle Grady is also a volunteer lawyer at Monday Night Law, a community service program providing consultations for individuals who have questions about a legal issue or process and an opportunity to have a lawyer help them figure out what to do next. Monday Night Law is provided by the New York City Bar Association’s Monday Night Law/Moderate Means Committee, the New York City Bar Legal Referral Service, and the City Bar Justice Center. This program is designed to help address the public’s need for affordable and accessible legal guidance. Monday Night Law assists more than 1,000 New Yorkers annually.
- F. Timothy Grieco, a litigator and member (partner) in our Pittsburgh office, is a volunteer at Urban Impact, a Pittsburgh-based ministry dedicated to developing the academic, physical, and spiritual character of inner-city youth. Tim coached the division-winning championship middle school basketball team this year, and also organizes and provides quality, hot meals for UI’s youth basketball leagues.
- William T. Benzing, a public finance attorney and member in our Philadelphia office, has donated his time to the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program since 2009. As an IRS-certified volunteer, Bill provides free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals.
- John W. Pauciulo, a member of our Philadelphia office and chair of the firm’s financial transactions practice group, is an advisory council member of Fresh Artists, a charitable organization empowering young lives through the transformative power of art and philanthropy. Since 2011, the firm has provided hundreds of hours of pro bono legal services and other support to Fresh Artists.
- Steven R. Kramer, member-in-charge of our White Plains office, was selected in 2016 as City of White Plains Champion of Youth for Summer Jobs. The award recognizes Steve and the firm for providing employment opportunities for youth and young adults in White Plains.
- Eckert Seamans is proud to be a United Way Champion through our donations to the Impact Fund, which supports key initiatives identified by community leaders and volunteers as the most critical. The Impact Fund ensures that the best, most innovative and collaborative programs will receive funds needed to make long-lasting change for the largest populations of vulnerable people in our communities.
- As a proud partner of the Dauphin County Bar Association’s Capital Area Managing Partners Diversity Initiative, Eckert Seamans’ Harrisburg office supports minority first-year law students with stipends and summer associate placements. The initiative aims to expose students to the practice of law and encourage them to consider beginning their legal careers in Central Pennsylvania.
- Eckert Seamans is a long-time supporter of Play On, Philly!, an education and social initiative that provides opportunities for personal development to children through the study of music. In addition to providing pro bono legal work for the organization, firm members Mitchell L. Bach and Warren Vogel serve as a board member and an advisor, respectively.
- Tara L. Lattomus, a member in our Wilmington office, has served for 10 years as a Guardian Ad Litem for the Delaware Office of the Child Advocate, where she represents the interests of children in foster care.
- Attorneys and staff in our Boston office raised $1,000 in 2016 for the Home for Little Wanderers’ annual adopt-a-student program, which provides students living in at-risk circumstances with an “off to college” care package.
- Grant E. Coffield, an intellectual property lawyer and member in our Pittsburgh office, and his wife Kelly founded The Cure for Cancer Soccer Foundation, a nonprofit consisting of three girls soccer teams that raises awareness and money for cancer research via tournaments around the country. As of 2016, the Cure raised and donated over $10,000 to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer and was recognized as a “Top Fundraiser” for the organization.
- Eckert Seamans provides pro bono legal services for Laura Fitzpatrick Photo Collection, part of the Smithsonian’s new Museum of African American History and Culture. Learn more.
- Since 2014, Eckert Seamans’ Philadelphia office has been proud to host students for the annual JEVS Human Services Career Day for its PASS Program (Preparing for, Attaining and Sustaining Success). Students speak with attorneys, administrative staff, and other professionals to learn more about career choices available to them.
- As longtime volunteer and Chester County coordinator for Wills for Heroes, Jodi Dyan Oley, a civil litigator and member in our Philadelphia office, helps provide the nation’s first responders and veterans with free legal documents such as wills, living wills, and powers of attorney.
- Amy J. Roy, a commercial litigator and member in our Pittsburgh office, co-founded Neighbors for Neighbors, a nonprofit that fulfills Wish Lists for children in need during the Holiday season. Since 2014, Neighbors for Neighbors fulfilled Wish Lists for over 600 Pittsburgh area families.
- Since 2010, lawyers and staff from the firm’s Boston office volunteer monthly to serve lunch and dinner at the New England Center and Home for Veterans. During the holidays the office also “adopts” four veterans through the center’s “Gift-A-Vet” program, buying their adopted veterans gifts from their wish lists.
- Lawyers and staff from the firm’s Princeton office helped to fulfill the holiday wishes of neighbors in need in cooperation with HomeFront, which works to break the cycle of poverty and end homelessness in Central New Jersey. In 2015, with an outpouring of support from community partners like Eckert Seamans, the HomeFront helped grant special holiday wishes of over 3,300 homeless or formerly homeless children.
- Eckert Seamans sponsored a 2016 “hackathon” event in Boston on behalf of Generation Citizen (GC), a national civics- oriented nonprofit focusing on empowering middle school and high school students to be involved in addressing issues in their local communities. The Civic Tech Challenge, hosted by Microsoft and the Gates Foundation, is GC’s annual fundraising event that matches students with local techies to come up with innovative solutions to real-life challenges.
- Eckert Seamans provided pro bono legal assistance to Koinonia Academy, a private Catholic school in New Jersey, relating to the renovation of vacant school property in order to provide rent-free housing to a family of eight who had fallen on hard times.
- Nancy L. Rackoff is a 2017 recipient of the YWCA Greater Pittsburgh Tribute to Women in Leadership Award in recognition of her commitment to community service.