Hogan Lovells

Citizenship Program overview

Pro Bono

Our Pro Bono practice draws on the experience of our professionals worldwide to improve the lives of those without access to justice or the means to hire lawyers, and to meet the legal needs of charities and nonprofit social enterprises. Providing quality legal services to those most in need and least able to pay is an integral part of being a lawyer.

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Acting as a Friend of the Court: Marriage EqualityAmericas

With its June 26 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court struck down laws prohibiting same-sex marriage in a landmark victory for civil rights. And in the majority opinion, the court cited a 23-page section of one of Hogan Lovells' two supportive amicus curiae briefs in holding that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.

Our representation of amici in support of marriage equality began with the 2013 United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry Supreme Court cases, where we represented multiple amici in support of marriage equality. We continued to represent clients throughout 2014 and into 2015 in the quest for marriage equality in various circuit courts of appeals, and ultimately again before the Supreme Court.

In November 2014, a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld several state bans on same-sex marriage or on recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in those consolidated cases, the lead of which was Obergefell. Hogan Lovells filed two amicus curiae briefs with the Supreme Court, highlighting the importance of marriage equality from the perspectives of history and public health.

The first brief was filed on behalf of the Organization of American Historians. It detailed the long and continuing history of discrimination against gay men and lesbians, from the colonial period until today, and explained how state same-sex marriage bans were simply more recent iterations of that longstanding discrimination.

The second brief was filed on behalf of American Public Health Association and Whitman-Walker Health. The brief highlighted the growing body of social science that has linked discriminatory marriage policies with adverse mental and physical health effects on lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals.

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court reversed the Sixth Circuit, finding that gays and lesbians enjoyed a constitutional right to marry. The court cited a lengthy span of the Historians' brief in its 5-4 majority opinion.

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Landmark Victory for WhistleblowersAmericas

We depend on federal employees to warn us of government practices and bureaucratic errors that endanger public health or safety. We secured a rare win for government whistleblowers in the U.S. Supreme Court in early 2015, representing former federal air marshal Robert J. MacLean.

In 2003, MacLean learned that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) planned to remove federal air marshals from long-distance flights, despite an imminent hijacking threat. When the DHS refused to change course, MacLean turned to the media. The DHS ultimately reversed itself after a congressional uproar, but the agency fired MacLean in retaliation. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that MacLean was eligible for federal whistleblower protections, but the government took the appeal to the Supreme Court, arguing that this ruling opened the door to leaks that threaten public safety and that the disclosure was prohibited by agency regulations.

Our lawyers stepped in on MacLean's behalf and secured a landmark victory before the Supreme Court. The court's 7-2 decision stands as an important bulwark against government abuse.

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Protection from Gun ViolenceAmericas

In collaboration with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence (Brady Center), we have filed amicus curiae and other briefs in support of reasonable gun restrictions facing Second Amendment challenges in state and federal courts.

Gun violence is an all-too-familiar problem in the United States. Every day, an average of 32 Americans are murdered with guns; 140 are treated for gun assaults in emergency rooms; and 45 are shot or killed in accidents involving guns. It takes a massive toll on American children, who are 11 times more likely to die by guns than children in other high-income countries. Gun violence is also a major drain on U.S. taxpayers, costing an estimated $100 billion annually in medical treatment, judicial proceedings, security precautions, and reductions in quality of life.

After a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit struck down the concealed-carry regimes of several California counties, our lawyers, on behalf of the Brady Center, moved to intervene in order to persuade the court to rehear the case en banc, which it has granted. We also secured a significant victory in the Louisiana Supreme Court, which upheld the constitutionality of two Louisiana laws restricting juvenile possession and carrying of guns.

In addition, our work has helped keep guns out of the hands of domestic violence offenders in Massachusetts. We have defended similar laws across the country, helping to frustrate the gun lobby's efforts to deprive law enforcement of the tools that it needs to keep guns off the streets.

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Pro Bono Work with Liberty AsiaAsia and Middle East

Liberty Asia is a Hong Kong charity working to provide a more effective, coordinated response to slavery, in particular by involving the corporate sector in NGO-sector work to facilitate this response. Liberty Asia's goal is to provide new solutions to change the way slavery is addressed, with a particular focus on the Mekong region. Since May 2014, our Hong Kong office has been a member of the Pro Bono Panel of Liberty Asia. We have been working on projects involving numerous members of the Hong Kong office, from paralegal to partner level.

An important part of the fight against human trafficking is obtaining criminal sanctions against the traffickers themselves. Civil remedies provide an alternative and/or supplement to criminal proceedings and are attractive as a means of holding perpetrators accountable and providing victims with compensation for harm they have endured and losses incurred. The use of civil remedies remains largely underutilized. To help frontline staff working with victims of trafficking to identify possible means of redress, we assisted Liberty Asia in preparing a comprehensive report on the various civil remedies that may be available to victims of human trafficking in Hong Kong.

The work was very well received by Liberty Asia and has been used in its training sessions for solicitors and duty lawyers in Hong Kong. It has also been published on the Liberty Asia website and on LexisNexis. We hope that it will continue to be used in the daily work of duty lawyers, charities, NGOs, and other law firms and practitioners in Hong Kong to assist with the identification of civil remedies in the drive to help the victims of these crimes.

Obtaining compensation either from the perpetrator or through a compensation scheme is fundamentally important in enabling and helping victims of human trafficking to rebuild their lives and prevent them from being re-trafficked or exploited. However, the Criminal and Law Enforcement Injuries Compensation scheme in Hong Kong does not currently provide a realistic or viable framework to enable victims of human trafficking to claim compensation, and it suffers from several fundamental shortcomings that make it unfit for purpose for these types of claims.

Hogan Lovells has been working with Liberty Asia to examine the existing structure and the difficulties it presents and to prepare comparative views with other systems and key recommendations for reform, including making the case for a separate fund for victims of human trafficking in Hong Kong. The research and materials will be used by Liberty Asia in its lobbying work and to support calls for reform in this important area with the ultimate objective of opening up monetary compensation to victims of trafficking.

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Bite the BallotUK and Africa

Bite the Ballot (BtB) is a community interest company and charity that aims to get more young people registered to vote and voting. Our London office has been supporting BtB in three ways: through pro bono public policy advice to drive key legislative change to increase the number of young voters; through pro bono legal advice, for example by registering BtB as a charity and advising on BtB's legislative and political agendas; and through education and awareness initiatives, like helping to run workshops to register young voters.

BtB is one of London's three largest pro bono clients, with 45 lawyers providing more than 770 hours of pro bono advice at a value of over £402,000. Our public policy work has included drafting a Private Member's Bill the Voter Registration Bill, which has been introduced into the House of Lords and the House of Commons and incorporates a duty on electoral registration officers to actively engage with schools and colleges to ensure the electoral roll is up-to-date in England and Wales (similar to the duty in Northern Ireland). Before 2014, no major party considered the issue of engaging young people to register. We have also secured policy manifesto pledges from four of five major parties to introduce the Voter Registration Bill and corresponded with MPs, Ministers, the Electoral Commission, and the Cabinet Office to push for substantive changes.

Our legal advice has resulted in the creation of Bite News, a joint venture company between Jamal Edwards of SBTV and BtB, with over 3,000 subscribers and 210,000 views on YouTube. We also guided BtB in the development of Leaders Live - a "question time" program with four of the major party leaders, hosted on social media in the run-up to the general election.

As a result of our education and awareness initiatives, we have registered more than 650 young people to vote in Islington. We also were active in helping BtB prepare for the inaugural National Voter Registration Day in 2014, which saw 35,000 young people register to vote. In its second year in 2015, more than 420,000 people registered.

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Support for the Teddy Bear ClinicUK and Africa

The Teddy Bear Clinic is a nonprofit organization that provides medical and therapeutic services to children who have been raped or sexually abused in South Africa. We adopted the clinic as our chosen charity when it was formed more than 13 years ago. The relationship started with funding the organization on a monthly basis but grew to providing legal and management advice. Over the course of time, a number of directors have sat on the board of the Teddy Bear Clinic and provide corporate governance assistance to the organization.

Currently we run a number of projects with the clinic:

Court Preparation Program

Together with the social workers employed by the clinic, we run a court preparation program for the children whose cases are ready for prosecution. The clinic engages the child immediately when the crime is reported, and once the child has undergone medical treatment and psychological counseling, he or she then enters the court program, which helps the child to become a better witness in the criminal trial against the perpetrators. The program is also designed to teach the children life skills, and confidence and trust-building exercises are reinforced through the program. The entire program is done over the course of a year. Our lawyer and business services volunteers give up a Saturday morning for this program. For 2014, our program ran at the Soweto clinic, and it has now extended to the Krugersdorp clinic for 2015.

There were approximately 70 children and 40 adults that underwent the program in 2014. All the beneficiaries are from the Soweto area, which consists of a number of townships situated in the south of Johannesburg. A total of 27 volunteers from all levels of the firm contributed 173 hours.

Legal Advice Clinic

We run a legal advice clinic for parents of children who have been raped and sexually abused. This occurs on an ad hoc basis and deals with family issues that arise as a result of the abuse. The beneficiaries are the parents of the patients of the clinic, and they come from all over Johannesburg to the offices of the Teddy Bear Clinic for this advice. One example of where we have assisted is when a parent abuses a child and separates from the other parent but refuses to pay maintenance unless the charges are dropped. Another example is allegations of sexual abuse during divorce proceedings, where parties use that as leverage to get custody of their children. Approximately 45 hours were spent giving legal advice to parents in 2014.

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UN Commission of Inquiry on North KoreaUK and Africa

At the beginning of 2014, we were asked by the South Korean Ambassador for Human Rights to review and prepare a legal opinion for Human Liberty on the United Nations Commission of Enquiry Report on Human Rights in North Korea (the UNCOI Report). The purpose of the opinion was to support the human rights of all North Korean citizens by publicizing the suffering of citizens at the hands of the North Korean authorities to assist in bringing those authorities to account for their actions.

Our London team reviewed the findings of the UNCOI Report and assessed the extent to which these suggested that the activities of the North Korean authorities amounted to crimes against humanity, including genocide. The opinion also discussed the options open to the UN Security Council, the International Criminal Court, and the international community generally to take appropriate action. Our opinion was intended to add weight and further impetus to the UNCOI Report's own conclusions. It was published in May 2014 and presented and debated at a U.S. congressional hearing in June 2014, as well as being mentioned in the House of Lords.

During the course of the work, we liaised closely with the Honorable Michael Kirby AC, chair of the UNCOI, and Lord David Alton, chairman of the All Parliamentary Party Group on North Korea. A group of lawyers spent an excess of 700 hours total from November 2013 to May 2014 on the matter and published a final opinion in May.

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Pro Bono Victory Allows Welsh Athletes to Return to Training for Rio 2016 Olympic GamesUK and Africa

Hogan Lovells has successfully represented one of two Welsh athletes who were disqualified from the Glasgow Commonwealth Games having tested positive for banned substances. Both athletes had taken a supplement energy drink which, during the production of the batch, had been accidentally contaminated with the banned substance.

Our London Litigation team represented Gareth Warburton, a middle distance runner specialising in the 800m who competed for Team GB at London 2012. As a result, Gareth's two year ban from competing was reduced to only six-months. Notwithstanding that UK Anti-Doping, the national organisation responsible for ensuring clean sport in the UK, and the National Anti-Doping Panel tribunal found that Gareth was not a cheat and had not knowingly taken any banned substance, the short, six-month ban was deemed appropriate on the basis that he should have disclosed that he was taking the supplements during the testing procedure and should have made additional enquiries to ensure the safety of the supplements before taking them.

Gareth's ban has already been served, meaning he is free to begin competing immediately and continue his training for the Commonwealth Games and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The case was covered by the BBC and in The Sunday Times (those with a subscription can access the article here and an interview with the two athletes which was featured in the sports section can be viewed here).

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Vietnam Lawyers Provide Pro Bono Assistance to LendwithcareAsia and Middle East

Lawyers in our Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh offices recently advised Lendwithcare, our global Touch charity partner, on its partnership with the Microfinance and Community Development Institute (MACDI). MACDI is a Vietnamese microfinance institution that is at the forefront of microfinance in the country and has been providing loans to low-income sectors of the population since 2008. It provides not only loans but also training to entrepreneurs in the rural areas of north and central Vietnam, 90% of whom are women seeking an average loan of less than US$100.

MACDI was recently presented with the 2014 Vietnam NGO Award for its outstanding work supporting community development and enabling low-income groups to access opportunities that improve their lives. The awards, which were sponsored by the Irish government, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Resource Alliance, are the first of their kind in the country and seek to "advance the country's nonprofit sector by promoting financial and organizational sustainability and strengthening community support of civil society."

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Washington, D.C. Team Advocates for Homeless FamiliesAmericas

The confluence of the ongoing economic downturn and uncommonly cold and snowy weather made last winter particularly difficult for homeless families in the nation's capital. Accordingly, members of our Washington, D.C. office decided to focus available resources on addressing those families' needs. Lawyers and staff devoted hundreds of hours to representing individual homeless families in the area. Participating lawyers provided advice, referrals, and representation to those who were denied shelter. Teams bundled up in their warmest winter gear and distributed pamphlets of legal information to families seeking shelter. We also gave donated gloves and jackets to children waiting outside in the cold. And we provided testimony to the D.C. Council on the hardships - both legal and practical - that homeless families face in their quest to obtain safe shelter during freezing conditions.

With the help of the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, we also brought a class action lawsuit against the Government of the District of Columbia for its illegal and unsafe placement of homeless families, including small children, into communal accommodations. Under Washington, D.C. law, homeless families are entitled to shelter when the temperature drops below freezing; to protect the families' health and safety, the shelter must be apartment-style housing or private rooms. Despite this explicit legal requirement, the District Government began housing homeless families on cots in gymnasiums in recreation centers, with inadequate safety precautions and no privacy or access to bathing facilities. After a hearing at which members of the class testified as to the unsafe and unsanitary conditions to which their children were exposed in the recreation centers and an expert testified as to the short- and long-term trauma that the children would suffer as a result, D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert Okun ruled in favor of the families, issuing a preliminary injunction. The District appealed that injunction to the D.C. Court of Appeals, and oral argument took place on 26 September.

"It really impressed me how Hogan Lovells [lawyers] were there at every stage of the process. I know they have put in a lot of work in the courtroom, but they have also spent a lot of time standing outside in the snow and rain to reach as many families as possible at a time when these families are in absolute crisis." Kaitlyn Uhl, Volunteer Coordinator, Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless

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