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Pro Bono and Social Justice

Mission driven, Hausfeld’s U.S. pro bono and social justice program is dedicated to assisting people obtain redress for injustices that they could not obtain for themselves due to social, economic, or political reasons.  Across the globe, our attorneys have a strong tradition of handling both large class actions and individual matters on a pro bono basis. 

Battling Climate Change

As part of our pro bono and social justice practice, Hausfeld has been at the forefront of developing creating legal solutions for the climate change crisis.  In 2017, Hausfeld brought Clean Air Council v. USA et al., No. 17-4977 (E.D. Pa.), in which a team of Hausfeld attorneys sought to prevent the federal government from rolling back critical climate change protections based on junk science.  In 2019, Hausfeld represented Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and fifteen other young people from around the world in submitting a groundbreaking legal complaint about climate change with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.  The complaint, filed against five countries, details how these and other countries have known about the risks of climate change for decades and yet have failed to act, putting the world’s children at great risk.  

Challenging Government Overreach

Hausfeld attorneys have been active on the federal and state level in challenging unfair government practices.  When the Trump administration instituted the 2017 Muslim travel ban, Hausfeld performed legal work for the Council on American-Islamic Relations on a challenge to that ban. We also work with Citizens for Responsibility for Ethics in Washington in an ongoing partnership, including on litigation relating to the legal propriety of dismissal of special counsel.  On the state level, Hausfeld attorneys drafted an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit on behalf of the Plant Based Foods Association challenging Idaho’s “Ag-Gag” laws, which criminalized efforts of investigative journalists to uncover animal abuses in agricultural production facilities under the First Amendment.

Social Justice and Equality

Hausfeld attorneys serve as pro bono supervising attorneys for the Supervision to Aid Reentry (“STAR”) Program, a model federal reentry court in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where they supervise clinical students from Philadelphia-area law schools in their representation of reentry court participants in a variety of legal issues, including traffic and family court matters, which present legal obstacles to successful reentry after incarceration.  Hausfeld also represented California Teachers’ Association and the National Education Association in litigation in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court in support of marriage equality, authoring amicus briefs on their behalf.

In the U.K., Hausfeld works with the Free Periods campaign to eliminate Period Poverty in England, which has been shortlisted in the “Access to Justice” category in the Law Society’s Excellence Awards, and our current advising of Andrea Brown in her Court of Appeal case against the police concerning the qualified one-way costs shifting rules will have a huge impact on human rights cases going forward.  

Sexual Harassment and Discrimination

Hausfeld Chairman Michael Hausfeld was among the first lawyers in the U.S. to assert that sexual harassment was a form of discrimination prohibited by Title VII; he successfully tried a case establishing that principle—Williams v. Saxby, 413 F. Supp. 654 (D.D.C. 1976). More recently, Hausfeld represented several female employees alleging sexual harassment against their former supervisor and employer, a San Francisco venture capitalist firm, which resulted in a confidential settlement.

Direct Representation

Currently, Hausfeld serves as pro bono counsel for claimants to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program and similar programs throughout Pennsylvania, which provide reparation funds for victims of childhood sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy.  For their work on this and other pro bono matters, Hausfeld was recently honored with the Philadelphia Bar Foundation’s Pro Bono Award, given annually to a Philadelphia law firm that performs outstanding volunteer legal work.

In addition to broader legal challenges to injustice, Hausfeld attorneys have provided a range of pro bono legal services to individuals, including the following:

  • Successfully seeking asylum for a Nepalese applicant and working with him to bring his family to the U.S.
  • Representing domestic violence victim in child custody proceedings in D.C. Superior Court
  • Providing legal services in claim regarding provision of mental health services
  • Assisted a local group in obtaining non-profit status

In the U.K., Hausfeld has also partnered with LawWorks, a charity working in England and Wales to connect volunteer lawyers with people in need of legal advice and who cannot afford to pay.