Everyone deserves equal access to justice. At Bradley, we are forceful proponents of the ethical obligation to help address unmet legal needs of indigent individuals and charitable institutions. Our commitment to pro bono service in the communities where our lawyers live and practice is of vital importance to our attorneys and staff.
Among the many areas where our pro bono program supports people and groups in need of legal representation are death penalty cases, adoptions, evictions, human rights, privacy rights, prisoner rights, services for people in recovery from addiction, representation of start-up charitable nonprofits, and intellectual property work for low-income inventors, artists and entertainers.
As part of serving our communities, we are the only Alabama-based firm that is a challenge member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project of the Pro Bono Institute (PBI). Challenge member firms commit at least 3% of their hours to charitable work. As a signatory to PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®, our firm has publicly demonstrated its commitment to pro bono work and access to justice.
The firm and a number of Bradley attorneys have received industry recognition for pro bono service, including the following recent honors:
Bradley’s Black Small Business and Nonprofit Community Clinics are a pro bono initiative dedicated to providing accessible and affordable business-oriented legal services to Black-owned small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Among other services, Bradley attorneys offer corporate governance, review of contracts, and guidance navigating local ordinances and state regulations. The firm partners with local organizations to identify and screen prospective clients for the monthly clinics.
The first clinic was launched in Nashville in January 2021 as a partnership with the Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville and its Volunteer Lawyers & Professionals for the Arts (VLPA) program. VLPA is the cornerstone program of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville, which helps provide pro bono legal and business services to income-qualified artists and creative entrepreneurs of all disciplines, as well as emerging nonprofit arts organizations.
Modeled after the highly successful Nashville program, a second clinic launched in Birmingham in April 2022 as a joint project of Bradley and Legal Services Alabama (LSA), one of the preeminent legal aid organizations in the country in bridging the civil justice gap through its recognized commitment to racial, social, and economic justice.
The Douglas Arant Public Interest Fellowship, named after a founding partner who helped instill a dedication to community service, offers Bradley summer associates the opportunity to work with public service organizations of their choice, subject to the approval of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee. Some of the worthy organizations that have been approved as partners in our fellowship program include the Southern Poverty Law Center, Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama (death penalty representation) and Legal Services of Alabama. Fellowship recipients work a minimum of six weeks at a Bradley office and at least four weeks for their chosen organizations while still being compensated by the firm.
Douglas Arant was known for his good judgment, tenacity and overall ability, and he maintained notable civic and charitable commitments throughout the state. Upon learning of Arant’s death, Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. of the United States Supreme Court noted that “apart from being a distinguished lawyer with a national reputation, he was a superb human being.” We believe this fellowship honors his sterling characteristics.
Bradley has a long history of representing individuals on death row, particularly in Alabama, which has unique death penalty challenges and the highest death sentence rate in the country. Alabama is also the only state where judges override jury recommendations of life without parole.
The firm annually devotes more than 1,000 pro bono hours to death penalty work. In 2019, 69 of our attorneys worked on behalf of individuals on death row.
Over the years, we have had four clients removed from death row. One of our recent cases involved Clemente Aguirre, formerly an inmate on Florida’s death row, who was convicted and sentenced to death in 2006 for two murders he did not commit. On November 5, 2018 – the eve of opening statements for the new trial – prosecutors announced they were dismissing all charges against Aguirre. This sudden dismissal reflected Aguirre’s innocence and his legal team’s unwavering resolve since 2013 to set him free.
In recognition of our pro bono work, Bradley received an Exceptional Service Award from the American Bar Association (ABA) Death Penalty Project.