Pro Bono Representative Work
Stoel Rives recognizes and supports the American Bar Association’s Model Rule regarding pro bono work. The firm believes that legal professionals have a special obligation to help those who cannot afford the services of a lawyer. In fact, it’s not simply our belief—it’s our policy. The firm recognizes that the legal profession has a special obligation to assist persons who cannot afford the services of a lawyer. We expect that successful lawyers at all levels will participate in professional activities, including pro bono activities, appropriate to their level of experience.
The examples below demonstrate the results of this philosophy.
- Lawyers in our Portland office volunteer at the Legal Aid Services of Oregon Night Clinic, a monthly clinic Stoel Rives staffs to assist low-income individuals with their legal needs. These matters include, among others, assistance with housing disputes, collection matters, Social Security Disability applications and appeals, collections, probate, and employment issues. Typically, a lawyer will take on two or three cases for every evening he or she staffs the Night Clinic. These matters can resolve quickly, but may sometimes last for several years.
- Stoel Rives lawyers teamed with the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center (“RMIC”), a nonprofit organization that seeks to exonerate and protect the rights of wrongfully incarcerated individuals, in representing a client who was convicted of murder in December of 2001 and has been incarcerated since that time. In post-conviction investigation, RMIC volunteers uncovered potentially exculpatory evidence that was never given to the client’s defense counsel. RMIC volunteers also learned that police failed to collect a blood-spattered piece of concrete that could have been used during the murder and would, therefore, contain the attacker’s DNA. Stoel Rives and RMIC brought a post-conviction lawsuit against the State on behalf of the client seeking a new trial given the constitutional violations associated with the client’s first trial.
- The Nature Conservancy (“TNC”) sought Stoel Rives’ help to defend a development permit for an estuarine restoration project in Tillamook County. The project involved restoring and enhancing wetlands and tidal flats that had been previously filled and dewatered for use as agricultural land. The project was contentious, pitting neighbors against neighbors and farmers against conservationists. Stoel Rives successfully defended the permit before the Tillamook County Planning Commission and then again before the Tillamook County Board of County Commissioners in the face of strong opposition and opposing land use counsel. An opponent appealed the case to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (“LUBA”), where Stoel Rives defeated the appellant’s attempt to stay the project thus allowing the project to stay on its summer construction schedule. Following the denial of the stay, the appellant withdrew the LUBA appeal altogether, which was a big victory for TNC, and a great outcome for the project.