Pro Bono

At Zuckerman Spaeder, the ability to perform legal work pro bono for those in need is central to our mission. We hold steadfastly to the idea that everyone deserves the opportunity for justice, and that with our familiarity with the courts, understanding of each individual’s legal rights, and ability to craft effective legal strategies, we have a responsibility to advocate on behalf of those without the means to hire an attorney. We also believe that pro bono is an opportunity to be involved in the local communities where our offices are located – New York, Washington, DC, Tampa, and Baltimore. 

The vast majority of our pro bono work involves direct representation of low-income or under-represented individuals or the organizations that represent them. We work closely with federal and state courts as well as legal service providers, to identify and engage on representations that present important issues of law, have the potential to benefit a large number of people, or are particularly challenging. In recent years, this work has focused on issues relating to civil rights, immigration law, matters of compassionate release and criminal justice, child welfare, employment discrimination, health care, and ethics counseling to non-profit organizations.

Though we view philanthropy and volunteer work as independent of our pro bono efforts, we work tirelessly to align these initiatives, empowering our clients and our causes with the greatest access to life-changing resources. Through our philanthropic program, we support legal services and other organizations in various cities. 

Zuckerman Spaeder’s tradition of pro bono service is recognized nationally and locally for its innovation and high impact.

  • Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year from the District of Columbia Bar
  • Beacon of Justice Award from the National Legal Aid and Defender Association
  • Servant of Justice award from the District of Columbia Legal Aid Society
  • Pro Bono Publico Award from the American Bar
  • Daniel M. Gribbon Award for Pro Bono Advocacy from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Additionally, our team members have maintained active leadership roles in numerous pro bono-focused organizations – as founder, president, chair, vice chair, members of the boards of directors or boards of trustees, and mentors, among others. A non-exhaustive list is below.

  • American Bar Association’s Task Force on Building Public Trust in the American Justice System
  • Counsel for Court Excellence
  • Crossroads for Florida Kids
  • Families Against Mandatory Minimums
  • Gideon’s Promise
  • Job Opportunities Task Force
  • Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • Legal Aid Society of DC
  • Legal Counsel for the Elderly
  • Maryland Legal Aid
  • Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project
  • National Health Law Project (NHelp)
  • Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia
  • Rising for Justice (formerly DC Law Students in Court)
  • Strive
  • The Equal Justice Associates
  • Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs

Child welfare

Zuckerman Spaeder attorneys in Tampa have frequently acted pro bono on behalf of children and young adults through Crossroads for Florida Kids. We serve as primary attorneys for children in foster care and assist the public defenders of others who are contending with delinquency and criminal matters. Most of these kids have suffered the trauma of abuse, neglect, or abandonment, causing mental health issues.

Criminal justice

Drawing on one of Zuckerman Spaeder’s known strengths, we help our pro bono clients through a multitude of criminal justice challenges. Our work runs the gamut from counseling on expungement to death penalty work, representing clients on compassionate release motions, to undertaking pro bono criminal cases. The firm’s commitment to criminal justice work only grew during the pandemic, which threw into harsh relief the necessity for representation of incarcerated individuals who are elderly, very sick, or at heightened risk of COVID-19, and do not pose a danger to the community. Our team has fought tirelessly on behalf of these pro bono clients to return them to their families and has done so with great success on more than a dozen of occasions.

 

 

Health care

Zuckerman Spaeder LLP has a strong health care practice that represents clients in an array of matters. The National Health Law Program, which educates, advocates, and litigates health care issues, turns to our health care team for representation in lawsuits in which it is a party or a friend of the court. The firm also provides pro bono representation in ERISA health care cases, complementing our national plaintiff’s health care practice.

Housing law

As part of our commitment to ensuring that members of our community have equal access to justice, we devote time pro bono to working with clients, who for any variety of reasons, are facing homelessness. Whether counseling clients through issues of unjust eviction, housing violations including unhealthy living conditions, or communications challenges due to language barriers or reading comprehension, our lawyers have meaningfully assisted numerous pro bono clients in securing exceptions, extensions, or payment to protect their access to safe and stable housing. 

Immigration law

The firm works actively on immigration matters in a number of different areas. Zuckerman Spaeder has provided legal ethics advice to a national provider of legal services to immigrants. Firm attorneys actively work on a number of special immigrant juvenile status cases. Firm attorneys have also secured political asylum for a victim of torture and secured a reduced bail for an immigrant who was arrested and detained. 


News

Meet the team
Almas Abdulla_Listing

Almas Abdulla

Associate

Leila Bijan

Leila Bijan

Associate

Dwight P. Bostwick

Dwight P. Bostwick

Partner and Firm Chair

Bobbi Camp

Bobbi Camp

Senior Paralegal

Jay Chen

Jay Chen

Senior Paralegal

Sandra Ekeson

Sandra S. Ekeson

Litigation Support Project Manager

Lisa Gehlbach

Lisa A. Gehlbach

Senior Paralegal

Scott A. Hanna

Scott A. Hanna

Staff Attorney

Melody Harness

Melody L. Harness

Staff Attorney

Melinda Harris

Melinda Harris

Staff Attorney

Lisa Kilbride

Lisa M. Kilbride

Staff Attorney

Bryan Reines

Bryan Reines

Associate

Lori Schmidt

Lori V. Schmidt

Senior Paralegal

Cy Smith_Listing

Cy Smith

Partner

D'Ann A. Vermilye

D'Ann A. Vermilye

Senior Paralegal

David Wong

David Wong

Staff Attorney