Removing barriers to justice . . . in both the nonprofit and private sectors!
OneJustice supports a network of 100+ nonprofit legal organizations, law firms, law schools, and businesses. Each year this network provides life-saving legal help to over 275,000 Californians facing legal barriers to basic life necessities and core civil rights. You – like everyone in our network – are an essential part of the solution for the millions of Californians who are suffering needlessly from solvable legal problems.
Andrea knows pro bono – from her prior work at the Justice & Diversity Center and now as Pro Bono Manager at Covington & Burling LLP
In honor of the work that our network does, each month we feature an interview with a different participant in the network. This month we interviewed Andrea Fitanides, California Pro Bono Manager at Covington & Burling LLP and former Supervising Attorney and Pro Bono Manager at the Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco.
Andrea, you are involved in managing pro bono work at Covington & Burling LLP. How do you approach that work, and how does your approach also inform your work with OneJustice?
I have been fortunate to be involved in pro bono work from several different angles. First, as an associate at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP volunteering on a range of pro bono matters. Second, as an attorney with the Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco (JDC), developing pro bono projects and cultivating relationships with our volunteers and pro bono partners, including large law firms. And, currently, in my position as Pro Bono Manager at Covington & Burling LLP, partnering with legal services organizations on pro bono matters.
Having worked at a legal services nonprofit, I have a strong awareness of the invaluable support such organizations provide for law firm pro bono programs, from expertly screening matters for placement, to structuring volunteer opportunities, to training and mentorship over the course of the matter. And, as a corollary, we couldn’t have provided the services we did for the community at JDC without pro bono support from law firms. At Covington, I’m glad to have the opportunity to be part of providing resources to legal services programs, both in terms of volunteer hours and charitable giving.
Because of this, I believe strongly in collaborations in our pro bono work. OneJustice, in bringing together different pro bono stakeholders, is a great resource for supporting collaborations and thereby strengthening the services delivered to the most vulnerable in our society.
How does Covington & Burling approach its pro bono work and what are some recent successes?
Covington has a strong commitment to public service, and we strongly encourage all of our attorneys to participate in pro bono work. We devote significant resources to finding pro bono projects that reflect the interests of our attorneys. Because of this, our pro bono program encompasses a wide range of areas, including civil rights, gay rights, veterans benefits claims, criminal matters, and transactional work for nonprofits.
Most recently, we are excited about victories in two racial profiling cases this year. The first was in Melendres v. Arpaio, a nationally publicized Arizona racial profiling case where a Covington team challenged disproportionate stops and arrests of Latino drivers and passengers by an Arizona sheriff’s office. The court there permanently enjoined the use of race as a factor in such stops and arrests—a significant civil rights victory for our clients.
The second was in Floyd v. City of New York, a federal class action lawsuit, challenging the unconstitutional stops-and-frisks made on the basis of race or ethnicity. In August of this year, a federal judge found the New York City Police Department (NYPD) liable for a pattern and practice of racial profiling and unconstitutional stop-and-frisks.
What have you enjoyed about being part of the OneJustice network, from both the nonprofit and law firm perspectives?
The Bay Area Rural Justice Collaborative brings volunteers to staff monthly free legal clinics in Napa County, as well as in the Gilroy area and the coast of San Mateo County.
I have always had a wonderful experience working with OneJustice and its dedicated, passionate staff. I greatly appreciated the support OneJustice provided to me as an attorney at a legal services nonprofit, including its orchestration of quarterly meetings for legal services pro bono managers throughout the Bay Area where we had a forum to share ideas, problem-solve, and develop our community.
At Covington, I’ve been excited to work with OneJustice on the Bay Area Rural Justice Collaborative (RJC) and to support its mission to expand access to legal services in rural communities throughout the Bay Area. I had the opportunity to volunteer at an early RJC housing clinic in Napa, along with one of our Summer Associates, Paul Meyer. There, we met with clients to discuss their housing issues and provided referrals, drafted letters to landlords, and gave clients information about their rights. As always, the OneJustice staff provided the needed support and training, in advance of and during the clinic, to further our ability to serve the clients. It was a rewarding experience and we look forward to supporting upcoming Rural Justice clinics.
Which project with OneJustice is most exciting to you right now?
Again, I would note the work that the RJC is doing, which is particularly exciting because it’s the first IMPACT (Involving More Pro bono Attorneys in our Communities Together) Project to launch in the country. The IMPACT Project is a direct response to a meeting held in Washington, DC in 2012 among Vice-President Joe Biden, Board members of the Association of Pro Bono Counsel (APBCo), and senior management of the board members’ firms, and is intended to provide increased access to free legal services for those in need. I hope that the Rural Justice Collaborative can become a model for delivery of legal services in rural areas that can be replicated nationally.
I’m also excited for the upcoming OneJustice California Pro Bono Conference this fall. It’s always a great opportunity to connect with pro bono stakeholders throughout California. (Staff note: Click here for more information and online registration for the October 9th Pro Bono Conference.)
Thank you, Andrea, for your outstanding commitment to pro bono and legal services, and for your terrific work at Covington & Burling LLP. We are so fortunate to have you in the OneJustice network!