NALP Directory of Legal Employers

Directory Year: 2021

Cooley LLP - Santa Monica, California

Pro Bono/Public Interest

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Pro Bono Contact

Pro Bono Contact Name Maureen Alger
Pro Bono Contact Title Pro Bono Partner
Pro Bono Contact Phone 650-843-5201
Pro Bono Contact Email [email protected]
Is the pro bono information indicated here firm-wide or specific to one office? Firm-wide
% Firm Billable Hours last year 4.4
Average Hours per Attorney last year 81.57

Pro Bono Participation

Percent of associates participating last year 82%
Percent of partners participating last year 65%
Percent of other lawyers participating last year 73%

Average hours

Average hours per associate last year 104.25
Average hours per partner last year 40.65
Average hours per other lawyer last year 75.47
What percentage of attorneys performed more than 20 hours? 48.51%
What was the number of actual pro bono hours contributed by the organization in the prior calendar year? 106,458
Does the organization maintain a written pro bono policy that sets forth the organization's commitment to pro bono? Yes
How does the organization define what constitutes pro bono legal work?

The Firm has adopted the definition of pro bono used by the Pro Bono Institute.

Organization pro bono hours goals

Does the organization set annual goals regarding the minimum number of pro bono hours to be contributed by the organization? Yes
If yes, what is that annual goal? 3% of billable

Attorney pro bono goals

Does the organization set individual attorney goals regarding the minimum number of pro bono hours to be contributed? Yes
If yes, what is that annual goal? 60 hours


Is an attorney's commitment to pro bono activity considered a favorable factor in advancement and compensation decisions? Yes
If yes, to what extent? Positive factor as part of multi-factor analysis.

Pro bono support services

Are full-time support services (word processing, online research Lexis/Westlaw, out of pocket costs) available for pro bono representation? Yes
If so, are there any limitations?

No limitations.

Are associates provided written evaluations of their work on pro bono matters? Yes
Does the organization employ one or more of the following structures to manage its pro bono program and to provide training and guidance to participating attorneys? (Check all that apply): Full-time attorney in a dedicated pro bono coordination/oversight role
An attorney who coordinates pro bono projects as an ancillary duty to other work
Pro Bono Committee
Non-attorney administrator
How is pro bono work assigned/distributed?

Full-time Pro Bono Partner, two full-time Pro Bono Counsel and two part-time Pro Bono Counsel work with local Pro Bono Committee members to circulate and staff opportunities.

If an attorney is permitted to bring a pro bono case for possible consideration by the firm, who makes decisions about whether the firm will handle the matter? (check all that apply) Pro Bono Committee

Enabling pro bono or public interest work

Does the organization provide any of the following to enable its attorneys to participate in pro bono activities or work in a public interest setting? (Check all that apply): Externships
If so please describe

Summer associate pro bono opportunities

Are pro bono opportunities available for summer associates? Yes
Additional comments (Please use this space to provide any additional information about your organization's pro bono program including any special recognition or awards the organization has received for its pro bono work.)

Commitment to the community is an important part of our culture at Cooley. We strive to give generously of our time, talents and resources to the communities in which we practice, and pro bono work is one of the primary ways we fulfill that goal. We give pro bono matters the same staffing, attention and resources as other matters. We assign pro bono matters the same weight and credit as other matters when evaluating attorneys’ contributions to the firm. We encourage attorneys in all practice groups and at all levels of practice to be actively involved in our pro bono work.  Our breadth of expertise enables us to take on a wide variety of pro bono matters, including impact litigation, individual representations, and transactional matters. Cooley lawyers regularly handle asylum, guardianship and domestic violence cases, and actively represent a broad array of foundations and nonprofit organizations.

Cooley provides the same staffing, attention, and resources for pro bono matters as on any other matter. We assign pro bono matters the same weight and credit as other matters when evaluating each attorney’s contributions to the firm—all pro bono time is billable. In particular, pro bono hours, like other billable hours, are taken into account when considering associate bonuses and partner compensation. Cooley does not have a limit on the number of pro bono hours that may be considered for this purpose.

Cooley’s commitment to pro bono work directed at fighting racial injustice runs deep and strong. Our litigation docket includes cases challenging police misconduct and protecting voting rights, as well as a case headed to trial against the organizers of the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.  In the wake of the increased focus and discourse on racial justice in 2020, we expanded our commitment to defending civil rights and addressing systemic injustices and began new partnerships to counter police misconduct and excessive force. Civil rights and racial justice work constituted our largest area of pro bono practice in 2020.

Cooley has recently received the following recognition:

  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area Father Cuchulian Moriarty Award (2021)
  • Alameda County Bar Association Distinguished Service Award (2021)
  • Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County Guardian of Justice Award (2021)
  • American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award (2018)
What are some of the areas in which your organization has performed pro bono work in the past year?
  • Appeals
  • Asylum
  • Bankruptcy
  • Children's rights
  • Civil rights
  • Constitutional law
  • Contract law
  • Corporate governance
  • Criminal law
  • Disability rights
  • Domestic violence
  • Education
  • Employment law
  • Entity formation
  • Environmental law
  • First Amendment
  • Guardianship
  • Housing
  • Homeless advocacy
  • Human rights
  • Immigrants' rights
  • Intellectual property
  • LGBTQ rights
  • Mental health issues
  • Micro-enterprise advising
  • Nonprofit advising
  • Police misconduct
  • Prisoners' rights
  • Public benefits
  • Racial justice
  • Real estate
  • Veterans’ issues
  • Voting rights
  • Women’s rights
  • Wrongful conviction

Fellowship sponsorship

Does your organization sponsor split public interest summer and/or post-graduate fellowships? Yes
Public Interest Fellowship Comments

We sponsor two legal fellows through Equal Justice Works and a variety of fellowship programs and events through student organizations at a variety of law schools.