For the Public Good
A Commitment to Service
We have an expanded concept of pro bono – “for the public good” – work. Each of our attorneys enthusiastically embraces the concept that it is his or her responsibility to give back to the community.
This takes many forms. Some involve themselves in the community. Some serve on bar-related committees and boards, including Vermont Bar Foundation and the Coalition for Access to Justice in Vermont, both of which raise funds for legal services. Within the firm itself, most of our attorneys regularly act in a traditional pro bono sense — representing clients of limited means, without pay, in all sorts of matters, ranging from family law proceedings to landlord-tenant disputes to collection claims. We also answer legal questions, in appropriate circumstances, for those who cannot afford to pay. Living in a small and mostly rural state, we hope that no one will go without sound legal advice simply because of financial circumstances.
Perhaps our most important contribution is the undertaking of major pro bono litigation. Our most groundbreaking case was Baker v. State of Vermont, which established the legal rights of same-sex couples and led to the passage of Vermont’s same-sex marriage law. Two of our lawyers worked on this project for more than ten years, beginning with education, then pursuing litigation, and finally lobbying for a political solution. We have been involved in nearly all of the other major civil rights cases that have been litigated in Vermont in recent years, including: Brigham v. State of Vermont, which established the right to equal educational opportunity under the Vermont Constitution; Chittenden Town School District v. Vermont Department of Education, which clarified the lines of separation between church and state under Vermont law; and Randall v. Sorrell, which raised constitutional challenges to Vermont’s campaign finance reform law.
We do not have a formal pro bono requirement — it is just an inherent part of our philosophy that, as attorneys privileged to be a part of this great profession, there is concurrent duty to give back to the community.