Giving back. Moving forward.
Baker Botts has long been committed to the communities in which we live and work. Helping those in need is a big part of that commitment. Each year, we provide thousands of hours of pro bono legal services to a broad array of causes, including:
- Adoption/child custody cases
- Civil rights cases
- Constitutional law issues
- Death penalty cases
- Family law issues
- Non-profit agency work
- Children and families in need
- Contract advice
- Corporate and tax counsel
- Community development
Baker Botts encourages lawyers to devote time to pro bono legal work. Pro bono clients are on par with other clients--providing the full resources of the firm and the same level of client service. This work is valued on an equal basis with legal services provided to fee-paying clients.
On average, we spend nearly 50,000 hours on pro bono causes every year, including a number of life-changing cases that have helped exonerate the innocent, assist the homeless, advocate for children at risk and families in need.
For example, in 2010 we helped a Salvadoran woman who escaped from a trafficking ring be reconciled with her family after nearly three years. Golda Semeno was lured to Mexico with the promise of work. Upon her arrival in Mexico, her new employer held her hostage and demanded money from her family. Baker Botts was able to secure visas and other necessary paperwork to safely reunite her with her family.
We also helped the largest Catholic lay volunteer program in the country, the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC), complete a multi-state merger for the JVC that included legal filings in five states, the incorporation of the new organization and assistance in managing a number of labor and employment issues. In all, about 250 JVs each year work in the United States and in seven countries around the world. As a result of the new entity, JVC is able to provide its services to those in need more efficiently.
The Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation honored the firm for defending them in a critical property dispute with the City of Houston. The City stated that it intended to sell the real estate on which the Center was located, despite the fact that the Center held a 99-year lease, still in effect. Baker Botts successfully prevented the City from selling the property, which would have disrupted the lives of almost a thousand mentally challenged people and their families.
We are involved in educational pro bono initiatives as well, such as the annual Invention Convention, a competitive event sponsored by the Richardson Independent School District in Texas. Each year, students from kindergarten through high school develop their own invention, along with a marketing plan to sell it. Since 1991, Baker Botts has sponsored and judged the contest. Once the judges determine the “Most Patentable Invention” award, we work with the winner on a pro bono basis, helping him or her file a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and cover all expenses involved in filing the application.