Pro Bono

Robbins Geller attorneys have a distinguished record of pro bono work. In 1999, the Firm’s lawyers were finalists for the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program’s 1999 Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year Award, for their work on a disability-rights case. In 2003, when the Firm’s lawyers were nominated for the California State Bar President’s Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year award, the State Bar President praised them for “dedication to the provision of pro bono legal services to the poor” and “extending legal services to underserved communities.”

More recently, one of the Firm’s lawyers obtained political asylum, after an initial application for political asylum had been denied, for an impoverished Somali family whose ethnic minority faced systematic persecution and genocidal violence in Somalia. The family’s female children also faced forced genital mutilation if returned to Somalia.

The Firm’s lawyers worked as cooperating attorneys with the ACLU in a class action filed on behalf of welfare applicants subject to San Diego County’s “Project 100%” program, which sent investigators from the D.A.’s office (Public Assistance Fraud Division) to enter and search the home of every person applying for welfare benefits, and to interrogate neighbors and employers – never explaining they had no reason to suspect wrongdoing. Real relief was had when the County admitted that food-stamp eligibility could not hinge upon the Project 100% “home visits,” and again when the district court ruled that unconsented “collateral contacts” violated state regulations. The district court’s ruling that CalWORKs aid to needy families could be made contingent upon consent to the D.A.’s “home visits” and “walk throughs,” was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit with eight judges vigorously dissenting from denial of en banc rehearing. Sanchez v. County of San Diego, 464 F.3d 916, (9th Cir. 2006), reh’g denied 483 F.3d 965, 966 (9th Cir. 2007). The decision was noted by the Harvard Law Review, The New York Times, and even The Colbert Report.

The Firm’s lawyers also have represented groups such as the Sierra Club and the National Economic Development and Law Center as amici curiae before the United States Supreme Court.

Senior appellate partner Eric Alan Isaacson has in a variety of cases filed amicus curiae briefs on behalf of religious organizations and clergy supporting civil rights, opposing government-backed religious-viewpoint discrimination, and generally upholding the American traditions of religious freedom and church-state separation. Organizations represented as amici curiae in such matters have included the California Council of Churches, Union for Reform Judaism, Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry – California, and California Faith for Equality.

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