NALP Directory of Legal Employers

Directory Year: 2023

Rothwell, Figg, Ernst & Manbeck, P.C. - Washington, District Of Columbia

Pro Bono/Public Interest

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Pro Bono Contact

Pro Bono Contact Name Steven Lieberman
Pro Bono Contact Title Member
Pro Bono Contact Phone 202-783-6040
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 1.9
Average Hours per Attorney last year 31.9

Pro Bono Participation

Percent of associates participating last year 45
Percent of partners participating last year 28
Percent of other lawyers participating last year N/A

Average hours

Average hours per associate last year 46.7
Average hours per partner last year 23.17
Average hours per other lawyer last year N/A
What percentage of attorneys performed more than 20 hours? 17.8
What was the number of actual pro bono hours contributed by the organization in the prior calendar year? 1609.2
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?

Approved work that advances the public interest and/or the greater good, rights wrongs or prevents or remedies injustice.

Does the organization set annual goals regarding the minimum number of pro bono hours to be contributed by the organization? No
Does the organization set individual attorney goals regarding the minimum number of pro bono hours to be contributed? No


Is an attorney's commitment to pro bono activity considered a favorable factor in advancement and compensation decisions? Yes
If yes, to what extent? It is very important.

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?


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): An attorney who coordinates pro bono projects as an ancillary duty to other work
How is pro bono work assigned/distributed?

By the partners in charge of the pro bono matter or by the person who brings in the project.

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 Coordinator
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):

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.)

Super Lawyers 2012 Pro Bono Awards

Law360's "The Biggest Personal Injury Decisions And Verdicts Of 2020"

What are some of the areas in which your organization has performed pro bono work in the past year?

Rothwell Figg encourages its lawyers to give back to the community through work that advances the public interest or the greater good, rights wrongs, or prevents or remedies injustice. Associates get full credit for pro bono hours, and an attorney’s commitment to pro bono is a very important consideration in advancement and compensation decisions. Additionally, pro bono hours are a factor when determining an associate’s bonus.

The firm’s recent pro bono work includes assisting:

  • Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition (BACC) and the pastor of the Macedonia Baptist Church in Bethesda, Maryland in a fight to halt the sale of the Moses African Cemetery, the burial ground of hundreds of formerly enslaved Africans to a developer. In a historic ruling, Judge Karla Smith of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County granted our clients’ motion for a preliminary (and then a permanent) injunction preventing the sale of the Moses African Cemetery unless and until the owner of the property complied with a Maryland law that requires the seller of land that is or was used as a burial ground to bring an action for approval of such sale so that the court may decide whether, and under what terms and conditions, such a sale might take place. A guest essay in The New York Times cites the BACC and the lawsuit filed by Rothwell Figg to preserve the burial ground.
  • The Women in STEM Solving Problems (WISSP) student group at The Pennington School in Pennington, New Jersey, in filing utility and design patent applications for their invention of a hybrid, partially-reusable, partially-disposable, menstrual product for young women in the Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi, many of whom have to stop attending school when they start menstruating because such products are not available to them. The WISSP team also established an economic infrastructure in Dzaleka that allows the local women to sew, sell, and distribute the products. Ultimately, this innovation allows more young refugee women to stay in school and helps them build essential business skills for future success. Their innovative product was the Grand Prize Winner in the Lemonade Stand Contest, a competition produced by Whalebone Magazine and Faherty Brand designed to kickstart projects and small businesses.
  • Flare, a startup founded by two survivors of sexual assault, invented a line of personal safety jewelry products that allows wearers to discreetly request help without using a phone. The design features an audible alarm, automatic texts to emergency contacts specifying a GPS location, and a recording device to capture audio evidence. We are helping Flare develop a comprehensive IP portfolio, including utility and design patent applications, and trademark and copyright registrations. Flare’s products were named among the best inventions of 2020 by Time.
  • Chabad, a worldwide Jewish organization established 250 years ago in eastern Russia, in its long-running lawsuit against the Russian Federation to recover its archives and library which were stolen in part by the Soviet Union, and in part by the Nazis and that are currently held illegally by Russia. The government of Vladimir Putin refuses to return them, despite a ruling from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia imposing sanctions of $50,000 a day on the Russian Federation for each day that it continues to wrongfully withhold Chabad’s sacred books. Sanctions against the Russian Federation currently exceed $175 million.
  • Kurt Eichenwald, a highly-regarded journalist, in a civil case arising from a weaponized Twitter attack on him. Mr. Eichenwald is an epileptic who was sent a flashing strobe light with the phrase “You deserve a seizure for your posts” by John Rivello, a white supremacist. The message caused a seizure. After three years of litigation, Mr. Eichenwald won on all of his civil claims, including assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and was awarded a $100,000 judgment. The groundbreaking case is already being taught in law schools around the country, including the Duke University Law School and William & Mary Law School.
  • The Committee of Concerned Scientists, a non-profit association of scientists, physicians, and engineers, who advocate on behalf of researchers around the world who are denied the rights guaranteed to them by their local laws and by international agreements. The organization’s core focus is on freedom of inquiry, freedom of association, freedom to research, and freedom to emigrate for all academics, regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic identity, national origin, or political views. As counsel to the Committee, we have advised on its internal organization, on threatened litigation, on trust and estate issues, and on a variety of other matters.
  • Desmond Jackson, a young entrepreneur we first met when he was a computer science student at the University of Alabama. At the time, Desmond was under indictment for (allegedly) hacking into the computer system of a well-known publisher. The charges were finally dismissed when Desmond explained to the prosecutors how his computer program did not violate computer tampering laws. We’ve been delighted to work with Desmond to obtain patents for his inventions, and on his other creative pursuits. Please look for Desmond’s soon-to-be published memoir, Crimson Code: The Price of Success, describing his experiences growing up in Alabama, and the fascinating – and unique – story of his college years.

Fellowship sponsorship

Does your organization sponsor split public interest summer and/or post-graduate fellowships? No
Public Interest Fellowship Comments