/ July 1, 2008

A Little Legal Advice Was All They Needed

This month, The American Lawyer is covering a multitude of inspiring cases that involve some of the country’s largest law firms contributing their time and talent to pro bono work. Pro bono, taken from the Latin, “for the public good” may be looked upon as an unattractive alternative for philanthropic work, in part because of the amount of time that must be devoted to it, and with the knowledge that many lawyers have the ability to bring in hundreds of dollars an hour for their work. In spite of the facts, a number of top ranked firms have proved their dedication to the public through their impressive work in the past.

A recent pro bono headliner involved the defense of two Mexican nationals found guilty of murder in the United States and sentenced to a lifetime in jail. The problem? The men were charged and sentenced with nothing more than a blurry photo and “an unreliable witness”. Before the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program stepped in, it looked as if the two would spend the rest of their lives in prison, not much of the American dream. Haynes and Boone, a firm based out of Dallas took the case over from the MCLAP and has been working to clear the names of Alberto Sifuentes and Jesus Ramirez. After putting in hours totaling nearly 80 days of work annually for almost 7 years, Haynes and Boone have been successful in their quest to free the innocent Sifuentes and Ramirez. The firm’s size and vast resources allowed them to do for free what a public defender could only dream of for their client. Bringing in private investigators to uncover evidence missed the first time around translated into a much easier trial than Sifuentes and Ramirez originally faced.

Haynes and Boone acknowledge the incredible amount of resources that must go into a pro bono case but that the end result is worth it. So is the law firm done representing at no cost for a while? Not at all. In fact, the Sifuentes, Ramirez case is still not closed in their eyes. Not only will they continue representing the men at no charge but now they are looking for a little positive retribution.

Source: The American Lawyer

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