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Arnold & Porter Wins Three Outstanding Achievement Awards from Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs

June 28, 2021

On June 16, 2021, Arnold & Porter’s pro bono capabilities were recognized with three Outstanding Achievement Awards from the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs at their annual Wiley A. Branton Awards Luncheon. The awards honor individuals and organizations that work tirelessly to “dismantle injustice and pursue lasting change.” This year, Arnold & Porter and its partner organizations were recognized for three groundbreaking efforts to use the power of law in order to achieve equal access to justice.

Building on its long history of helping Washington, DC residents secure reasonable housing accommodations, Arnold & Porter and pro bono partner organizations were recognized for assisting low-income tenants. Ninety-seven tenants, who had faced unreasonable living conditions in neglected apartment complexes, received $20,000 settlements. The firm’s pro bono team, which was led by counsel Jennifer Karmonick and Anna K. Thompson, collaborated with pro bono partners Bread for the City and the Committee to advise each tenant about the impact of the settlements on their public health benefits. The firm has an active pro bono practice involved in areas of housing and public benefits, and the Washington Council of Lawyers profiled the firm for its work defending DC-area seniors with limited means from eviction and homelessness.

Arnold & Porter was also recognized for its lifesaving pandemic-related efforts designed to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 for patients at a DC-area psychiatric hospital. Arnold & Porter, the ACLU of DC, and the Committee secured an injunction requiring the hospital to take essential steps to stop the spread of COVID-19, which brought transmission under control and caused the rate of illness in the hospital to drop dramatically. The pro bono team continues to litigate to ensure that the hospital is prepared to protect its patients in the future. The team is led by senior pro bono counsel John Freedman and previously included partner Tirzah Lollar.

Arnold & Porter was also recognized for its continued representation of deaf clients in litigation seeking access to legally required accommodations. For years, the US Bureau of Prisons refused to provide a deaf inmate with means to communicate with the outside world in his native language, American Sign Language. Arnold & Porter and the Committee filed suit and, in a landmark decision, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that deaf inmates have a First Amendment right to communicate with other deaf persons outside of prison and the BOP is required to provide access to a videophone to allow communication with the outside world using American Sign Language. The pro bono team was led by partner Ian Hoffman, senior associate Andrew Tutt, and partner David Bergman.

Arnold & Porter’s impactful pro bono work in the DC area was recently celebrated by the DC Circuit Pro Bono Standing Committee, which named the firm as a "60 at 50" Pro Bono Leader for having 60% or more of attorneys contributing 50 or more hours of pro bono service during 2020. The DC courts also named 257 Arnold & Porter attorneys to their 10th annual Pro Bono Honor Roll, which recognizes contributions of DC Bar members who donated 50 hours or more of pro bono service during the last calendar year.

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