Since Bob Strauss came to Washington in 1971, clients have sought out Akin Gump for the firm’s expertise in navigating the federal government’s processes on both its executive and legislative sides. Today, with a nationally recognized bipartisan team leading the public law and policy practice, our expertise also benefits pro bono clients.
Pro bono work on the public policy level can affect millions of people. Akin Gump has worked with the U.S. Coalition for Child Survival to secure funding to fight preventable child deaths in the United States. Nearly ten million children around the world die each year from preventable and treatable diseases that don’t require advanced technology or complex medicine, but basic interventions such as vaccines, antibiotics, and birth attendants.
At the same time, policy work can affect smaller groups in no less fundamental ways. Akin Gump’s policy advisors and attorneys have represented 250 Holocaust survivors who sought compensation for having been transported by the French national railroad to Nazi concentration camps during World War II. As a result of the firm’s efforts, Maryland enacted a law requiring the railroad to open its files in exchange for commuter rail contracts. This ultimately led to the negotiation of a bilateral treaty between the United States and France, in which the railroad agreed to a $60 million lump sum settlement for survivors deported to Nazi camps via the railroad.
While working to redress historical wrongs, Akin Gump’s pro bono work also addresses today’s headline issues. One example is the broad-spectrum work that the firm has done to support the advocacy of Appleseed, a nonprofit network of 17 public interest justice centers in the United States and Mexico that work to ensure genuine opportunity, universal and equal access to the law, and government advancement of the public interest. Akin Gump attorneys have done lead research and writing on several widely distributed and influential reports on immigration-related matters, including “Children at the Border: The Screening, Protection and Repatriation of Unaccompanied Mexican Minors,” “Assembly Line Injustice: Blueprint to Reform America’s Immigration Court System”, ““Reimagining the Immigration Court Assembly Line.” and, most recently, “Standards for the Custody, Placement and Care; Legal Representation; and Adjudication of Unaccompanied Alien Children in the United States.” In addition, Akin Gump's policy advisors and attorneys worked with the State of Nebraska and the Ponca Tribe to have a statue of Chief Standing Bear, the Native American civil rights leader, placed in the U.S. Capitol. The team has also advocated for federal legislation to designate the Chief Standing Bear National Historic Trail. The team worked tirelessly to secure multiple approvals for the statute: first the Nebraska State Legislature and then several federal approvals, including approval from the Architect of the Capitol and the Congressional Joint Library Committee.
These reports not only featured the intellectual input of the firm’s attorneys, but were also designed by the firm’s award-winning in-house design team.