Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld is set to be honored by the American Bar Association for its pro bono work.
Akin Gump will be presented with the 2012 Pro Bono Publico Award Aug. 6, during the ABA's annual meeting in Chicago. The association will award five recipients. In addition to the firm, the recipients will include three individual lawyers and a department of the New York State Supreme Court.
"Pro bono work is a key component of our legal system, and these good deeds help to fill the void left by devastating budget cuts," ABA president William Robinson III said in a written statement.
Attorneys at Akin Gump averaged 84 hours of pro bono work per U.S. lawyer last year, according to the ABA release. Globally, the firm donated more than 67,000 hours of pro bono work. Since 2006, Akin Gump increased its pro bono hours by more than 50 percent.
"What we've really tried to do over the past half-decade is to make pro bono work accessible to everyone in the firm and give people an opportunity to use their expertise or interest to help those in need," Steven Schulman, a D.C.-based Akin Gump partner and head of the firm's pro bono practice, said in an interview.
When Schulman joined the firm in 2006, some practices were less involved with pro bono work than others. Schulman said he wanted to dispel the notion that tax or transactional workers couldn't do pro bono work.
"The real challenge was to make sure that every practice group in every office was making substantial pro bono work," Schulman said.
Firm partners aren't the only ones who donate their time. Since 2007, summer associates have worked with abused immigrant women, mainly on Violence Against Women Act petitions.