Pro Bono Work
HCMP has long supported individuals and organizations in need of legal counsel on a pro bono basis. HCMP attorneys work on local, federal, and international matters and, in some cases, have been involved in groundbreaking decisions. Pro bono clients include local and national nonprofits and a variety of individuals and companies who have suffered injustice. Often, these clients might not otherwise be able to access top-quality counsel to represent them. Annually, attorneys provide 3,000+ hours to pro bono practice. Some of the organizations we've worked with include:
- ACLU of Washington
- Behind the Badge Foundation
- Environmental Works
- First Place Scholars
- Intiman Theatre
- Japan America Society
- King County Bar Association
- Landesa Seattle Design Foundation
- Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
- Seattle Clemency Project
- Seattle Waldorf School
- St. Theresa Parish Homeless Shelter
- Washington Appleseed
- Yale Law School
And for more insight, here are a few examples of our work and its impact:
HCMP Files Amicus Brief in Support of Transgender Military Service
Hillis Clark Martin & Peterson has filed an amicus brief in support of transgender service members, and transgender people who want to serve in the U.S. military, in a pending lawsuit against President Trump and the Department of Defense.
HCMP filed the brief on behalf of a distinguished list of 46 former military and national security officials who have served in the senior-most levels of the U.S. government across the administrations of both major political parties. The list includes Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel (former Secretaries of Defense), General (Ret.) Michael Hayden (former Director of the CIA and NSA), and General (Ret.) Stanley McChrystal (former Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan).
Filed in Ryan Karnoski, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., the amicus brief addresses President Trump's tweet and subsequent actions purporting to exclude transgender people from the U.S. military. The former military and national security officials offer their perspective that this is not a case where deference to the President's tweet is warranted in light of the absence of any considered military policymaking process, and the tweet's sharp departure from decades of precendent on the approach of the U.S. military to major personnel policy changes. The amici - who collectively have devoted countless decades to strengthening U.S. security interests - also contend that the categorical exclusion of transgender individuals on the basis of group characteristics rather than individual fitness to serve is inimical to the national security interests of the United States.
HCMP Provides Path To Clemency
HCMP lawyers are working with two incarcerated individuals to support their path to clemency. These individuals were sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole, for non-violent crimes under Washington's "three strikes" law. They have each demonstrated extraordinary rehabilitation in prison and the desire to become productive members of society. As part of the firm's pro bono representation, HCMP attorneys Dan Gottlieb, Jessica Kerr and Christie Segal meet and correspond with the clients, gather information to help support their clemency petition, and will ultimately assist them in drafting and submitting a petition demonstrating their exceptional circumstances to the Washington Clemency and Pardon Board.
HCMP Provides Pro Bono Legal Services on Behalf of Immigrant Rights
HCMP, as part of its pro bono services to Episcopal Bishops and the ACLU of Washington, has filed three amicus briefs related to immigrant rights.
The first two briefs were filed in support of two challenges to the President’s attempt to suspend immigration from six Muslim-majority countries and the U.S. Refugee Assistance Program. HCMP filed the briefs in the Fourth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals on behalf of Episcopal Bishops from across the country. The Bishops' dioceses actively work to resettle refugees and immigrants from all over the world, including from the targeted countries. The Ninth Circuit heard oral argument in State of Hawai'i v. Trump on May 17th, 2017, just nine days after the Fourth Circuit heard oral argument in International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump. Plaintiffs' attorney in the Ninth Circuit, Neal Katyal, specifically mentioned the Bishops’ brief during oral argument. On May 25, 2017, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s nationwide injunction against the President’s travel ban. A decision from the Ninth Circuit is expected soon.
HCMP’s third amicus brief was filed on behalf of the ACLU of Washington on May 12, 2017, and backed the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project’s (NWIRP) lawsuit in federal court challenging a U.S. Department of Justice “cease and desist” letter. The “cease and desist” letter is aimed at preventing NWIRP attorneys from providing certain types of free legal aid to people in immigration court—work the organization has done for more than 30 years. On May 17, 2017, a federal judge in Seattle temporarily blocked the Department of Justice from enforcing that “cease and desist” letter and from issuing similar letters nationwide. HCMP attorneys Mike Scott, Amit Ranade, Lisa Chaiet Rahman, Jake Ewart and Andy Murphy provided legal services on these activities.
Anti-Discrimination and Consumer Protection: Ingersoll v. Arlene’s Flowers
HCMP provided pro bono legal services to the plaintiffs in Ingersoll v. Arlene’s Flowers. On February 18, 2015, in a historically significant ruling, the court found that a florist who refused to provide flowers to a gay couple for their wedding had violated state anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws. HCMP Litigation practice chair Mike Scott and attorneys Jake Ewart, Amit Ranade, Kurt Kruckeberg, Andy Murphy and Michael Edwards spent hundreds of hours working on the case, with Scott and Ewart front and center during oral arguments.
More recently, on November 11, 2016 and in response to Arlene’s Flowers' appeal of the ruling, HCMP presented oral arguments to the Washington Supreme Court. On February 16, 2017 the Court, in an unanimous decision, affirmed the lower court ruling. The firm is committed to continuing the fight to the finish on a pro bono basis. Said Scott, “While the case has required a significant firm investment, HCMP deeply values diversity and equality, and was committed to working hard to ensure a victory. This case has resonated so strongly throughout the entire firm, including staff, and we couldn’t be more proud of the work we’ve done and happy that the Washington Supreme Court ruling affirmed our clients' position.”
HCMP's work on this case has been recognized with the King County Bar Association's 2015 President's Award and the Seattle Business magazine 2015 Community Impact Award for Pro Bono Services
Transfer of Ground Zero Flag
In November 2014, a man dropped off a flag at Everett Fire Station #1, claiming that it was the original flag that was raised by New York City firefighters above the site of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. The ground zero flag, as it became known, was an iconic symbol in the aftermath of 9/11, but was lost in the years following the attacks.
An Everett man who collected flags delivered one he believed could be the original to his local fire department, who then turned it over to the Everett Police for safeguarding. Over the next year, Everett detectives worked to investigate its origin and authenticity.
Ultimately, detectives concluded that there was enough compelling evidence to determine that this was likely the ground zero flag, and arrangements were made to return and preserve the flag. The flag was featured in a special on the History Channel, “America’s 9/11 Flag: Rise from the Ashes.”
We were very honored to have provided pro bono legal services related to facilitating the transfer of this flag to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. HCMP attorney Mary Peterson and summer associate Jesse Feng worked on the matter.
Copyright Infringement: Illumination Arts
Chara Curtis, Cynthia Aldrich and Alfred Currier are the author and artists of inspirational children’s books Fun Is a Feeling, How Far to Heaven? and All I See Is Part of Me. When the books’ publisher stopped paying royalties but continued publishing the books, and following several demands to cease, Curtis, Aldrich and Currier terminated their publishing contracts, but the publisher continued to publish their books.
Curtis enlisted the pro bono assistance of HCMP attorneys Amit Ranade, Alex Wu, Kurt Kruckeberg and Andy Murphy, who ultimately won their breach of contract and copyright infringement lawsuit against the publisher. The court determined that the publisher’s willful copyright infringement weighed in favor of “a hefty award” and granted Curtis, Aldrich and Currier $150,000 in statutory damages.
Corporate and Regulatory: Global Partnerships
HCMP has enjoyed a long and ongoing pro bono relationship with Global Partnerships, a Seattle-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit impact investor whose mission is to expand opportunity for people living in poverty. Global Partnerships pioneers and invests in sustainable solutions that help impoverished people earn a living and improve their lives, and has invested in a portfolio of 47 microfinance institutions (MFIs), social businesses and cooperatives in 11 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is also exploring opportunities in East Africa. Global Partnerships is staffed by a team of 29 employees in offices in Seattle, Washington, and Managua, Nicaragua, and investments are focused around four impact areas: health services, rural livelihoods, green technology and micro-entrepreneurship. Across these impact areas, women currently comprise a majority (60%) of the people served.
Since its inception in 1994, GP has invested $162.3 million in 80 partner organizations who now bring sustainable solutions that help their clients save time and money, increase productivity, access affordable healthcare and earn a stable income.
HCMP began providing a variety of pro bono legal services to Global Partnerships in 2009 and continues to do so today. Attorneys counsel the organization and its leadership on a variety of general corporate and business legal issues, and have provided advice relating to board actions, vendor contracts, and employment matters. We have also provided counsel on public policy, securities laws and domestic and international regulatory issues to ensure organizational compliance.