Pro Bono Partnerships

The Brennan Center works with dozens of lawyers from more than 30 law firms on a variety of projects that further our litigation, research and public advocacy efforts. The assistance and advice of our pro bono partners is vital, enabling us to leverage our internal resources and greatly increase the number of projects we undertake. Pro bono work spans our program areas and can range from short-term projects to complex multi-year litigation and public policy initiatives.

Generally, we place litigation projects with firms that commit a senior litigation partner and one or more associates to the task. Research and drafting projects usually can be handled by a smaller group of lawyers. 

If your firm is interested in partnering with the Brennan Center on pro bono projects, please contact Elisa Miller, at elisa.miller@nyu.edu

Recent pro bono projects include:

Voting Rights & Elections

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP attorneys helped wage this successful suit to overturn a law curbing community registration drives in Florida. A federal judge ruled that the restrictions violated the U.S. Constitution and federal law. The team now works to protect community voter registration before the Fifth Circuit. (League of Women Voters of Florida v. Detzner)

Dechert LLP partnered with the Center, Lawyers Committee, and others to represent the Texas NAACP and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC). The group intervened in federal court to successfully block implementation of the state’s restrictive photo ID law before the 2012 election. (Texas v. Holder)

Sullivan & Cromwell, together with the Brennan Center and Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, represented intervenor-defendants to oppose South Carolina’s harsh new voter ID law. The state had sued to overturn DOJ’s decision blocking the law. The court postponed the new law’s effect until after the 2012 election. (South Carolina v. Holder)

Arnold & Porter LLP assisted the Center and others with an amicus brief urging the Sixth Circuit to block Ohio from discounting provisional ballots with technical deficiencies, especially due to poll-worker error. (SEIU v. Husted)

Holland & Hart partnered with the Brennan Center to represent Common Cause Colorado to ensure Colorado voters, especially those the state deemed “inactive,” were treated fairly in that state’s mail-in voting process. (Gessler v. Johnson)

The Center joined the Lawyer’s Committee and pro bono partners at Bryan Cave LLP to challenge Florida’s new restrictions on early voting as racially discriminatory and impermissible under the Voting Rights Act. (State of Florida v. United States)

Davis Polk & Wardwell drafted two amicus briefs on behalf of the Center and the Florida League of Women Voters to bolster court challenges to Florida’s system of purging voters from its voting rolls. Board member and Davis Polk partner Dan Kolb leads this effort. (U.S. v. Florida)

Cuti Hecker Wang LLP and Emery Celli Brinkerhoff & Abady LLP helped win lawsuits  challenging the New York State Board of Elections’ implementation of new electronic voting technology in advance of the 2010 elections. (Conservative Party of New York State and Working Families Party v. New York State Board of Elections)

Davis Polk & Wardwell and other firms drafted a number of briefs in an important voting rights case considered by the Supreme Court, which challenged Indiana's requirement that registered voters show photo ID at the polling place. (Crawford v. Marion County Election Board)

Money in Politics

Proskauer Rose LLP drafted an amicus brief on behalf of the Brennan Center and others to help defend NYC’s successful election public funding system from a challenge by perennial campaign finance opponent James Bopp. (Ognibene v. Parks)

Hogan Lovells US LLP drafted an amicus brief on behalf of the Center and others arguing that the FEC erred by allowing donors to independent expenditure committees to evade disclosure if they did not earmark their donations for a campaign. Hogan attorneys were led by partner Ira M. Feinberg. (Van Hollen v. FEC)

Pro bono partners drafted amicus briefs before the Supreme Court defending laws restricting independent expenditures by corporations.  One such brief was cited twice by Justice Stevens in his lengthy dissent. (Citizens United v. FEC)

In a longstanding project, the Center defended Connecticut’s public financing system for legislative races since 2006 with assistance at all stages from Hogan & Hartson. (Green Party of Connecticut v. Jeffrey Garfield) Simpson Thacher & Bartlett also helped the Center’s defense of North Carolina's groundbreaking system of public financing of appellate judicial elections. In November 2008, the Supreme Court denied certiorari, resulting in a complete victory. (Duke v. Leake)

Government & Court Reform

Pro bono counsel represented an ally in a certiorari petition to the Supreme Court.  The case resulted in a complete victory — affirmation of the right to a fair hearing before an impartial judge. (Caperton v. Massey Coal)

Justice for All

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP drafted an amicus brief on behalf of the Brennan Center in this Supreme Court case that addresses the controversial issue of race as a factor in university and college admissions. Partners Steven S. Michaels and James E. Johnson, a Center board member, led this effort at the firm with help from Amanda Block. (Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin)

Liberty & National Security

Arnold & Porter LLP, with the Brennan Center and others, represented the Al Falah Center in its suit against a New Jersey town that tried to prevent the group from building a mosque and Islamic community center. (Al Falah Center v. Township of Bridgewater)