Pro Bono Program

The Pro Bono Program at Appellate Advocates

Appellate Advocates is proud to work with the nation’s top law firms and legal organizations as part of our Pro Bono Program. As described below, our Pro Bono Program provides attorneys in private practice with the opportunity to represent clients in the direct appeal of their felony convictions, in resentencing applications under the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, and in clemency applications.

A fundamental component of each pro bono case is the training and guidance provided by Appellate Advocates. In addition to directly supervising each case, we provide pro bono attorneys with sample briefs, training materials, and feedback. 

For more information about any part of our Pro Bono Program, please contact David Fitzmaurice ([email protected]) or Hannah Kon ([email protected]).

Direct Appeals

These pro bono matters provide mid-level associates, with prior appellate or litigation experience, with a lead role in representing clients in the direct appeals of their felony convictions. Each appeal has been selected based on our internal screening process, and each client has consented to being part of our Pro Bono Program. After being assigned their cases, the associates, under the mentorship of our Senior Staff Attorneys, are trained to evaluate the trial records, identify appellate issues, draft appellate briefs, and argue the appeals in the Appellate Division, Second Department. The associates are also mooted extensively in advance of their oral arguments. Should cases advance to the Court of Appeals, the associates can continue their lead role, briefing and arguing the cases in New York’s highest court.

Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (“DVSJA”)

These pro bono matters provide teams of attorneys, with litigation and non-litigation experience, with an opportunity to represent clients in their applications for resentencing under the DVSJA—which was enacted in 2019 to shorten the prison sentences for domestic violence victims. Working closely with our attorneys who specialize in DVSJA cases, our social work and re-entry staff, and our DVSJA clients, the pro bono teams will provide sensitive, client-focused representation to help courts and district attorney’s offices understand the relationship between our clients’ prior trauma and their offenses.

Clemency Applications

These pro bono matters provide attorneys, with litigation and non-litigation experience, with an opportunity to petition the New York Governor’s Executive Clemency Bureau for relief in the form of sentence commutations and pardons.  Working with Release Aging People in Prison (“RAPP”), Appellate Advocates trains attorneys to put together a comprehensive clemency packet for clients for whom continued incarceration or a record of conviction is particularly harmful while serving no societal purpose. 

Our Current Pro Bono Partners

Appellate Advocates is immensely grateful to the following firms for their pro bono legal services:

  • Covington & Burling
  • Foley Hoag
  • Jenner & Block
  • Kobre & Kim
  • Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler
  • Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
  • Sullivan & Cromwell
  • Weil, Gotshal & Manges
  • White & Case
  • Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr