We provide comprehensive pro bono services that address the critical legal needs of our neighbors and communities, including individual representation cases in areas of law that clients living in poverty often face.
In the UK, Sidley handled 60 cases at 3,600+ hours for our welfare benefits and prisoners’ rights clients.
Sidley’s U.S. offices partner with many local legal services organizations in order to represent our neighbors who could not otherwise afford counsel. In 2022, Sidley’s lawyers in Dallas, D.C., New York, and LA handled cases for low-income individuals and families in housing, family law, consumer, and public benefits matters.
Since launching a partnership with charity Not Beyond Redemption in late 2021, Sidley’s London lawyers have staffed 15 clinics in prisons and taken on over 40 individual cases, assisting mothers and children most in need. Under the project, we support mothers who are in or have left prison to establish and maintain contact with their children by providing legal advice and representation in family court.
A Sidley team represented a mother in prison who was due to be released in late 2022. The client had frustrations that contact with her two children was not being facilitated by the Special Guardian and as a result, her contact with the children was much more limited than it should have been. Despite some initial resistance from the children’s Special Guardian, the Sidley team, working together with the Prison Advice and Care Trust, were able to arrange with the Special Guardian an increase in our client’s contact with her children from just a couple of times a year to regular and consistent monthly face-to-face visits as well as phone calls in between. This was all done without having to take the matter to court which was a very beneficial outcome for all parties.
“I finally had a voice and my views and concerns were finally getting heard…My contact is fabulous and I cannot wait to see what unfolds in all mine, my children’s and my family’s future” – Sidley Client
Sidley represented a young mother over the course of extended proceedings to seek a contact arrangement with her son who she had cared for alone before entering prison. The team was able to obtain a contact order which allowed for weekly contact, including weekends. Critically, the magistrates granted the client permission to spend time with her son on Christmas Day, which would otherwise have been their first Christmas not spent together.
Sidley teams in London represented over 15 individuals in appeals against the Department of Work and Pensions in respect of entitlement to disability benefits.
A team successfully represented an individual in her Personal Independent Payment appeal, securing her an enhanced award for at least three years. She had previously been denied the right to the benefit and was extremely grateful for the support after having gone through many difficulties in life.
“… thank you Sidley for your amazing unbeatable superstar solicitors and thank you for pro bono…I could not have done it without you...I am over the moon. I am smiling first time in long time…thank your from my heart ladies. I won. We won.” – Sidley Client
A team won an appeal for disability benefits, including over £6000 in back-payments. The individual had previously been denied the right to the benefit, despite having severe and long-term psychological and psychical conditions, and was delighted with the positive outcome of the tribunal.
“…thank you all so much for your amazing help, I’m so grateful. I’m still in shock, thank you all so much for your time and effort and of course patience. I really do appreciate it!” — Sidley Client
In a case referred by the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center, Sidley secured a victory for a woman seeking custody of her four-year-old granddaughter. The young girl had suffered abuse in a previous custody arrangement, and her grandmother had since cared for her and provided a safe and stable home. Before Sidley’s involvement, while the grandmother was proceeding pro se, the court mistakenly closed the case for insufficient service of process on one of the defendants, the girl’s mother. The Sidley team successfully petitioned the court to reopen the case. Sidley first obtained a temporary custody order and then a permanent order for sole legal and physical custody.
Sidley represented New York Common Pantry (NYCP) — a longstanding charity that supports food insecure individuals in New York City with a soup kitchen, two choice food pantries and over 100 food distribution locations — in its purchase of a building in the Bronx and the financing of the purchase through BuildNYC bonds. NYCP was the only tenant in the building and its lease contained a purchase option, which it exercised. The building will primarily be used by NYCP to provide mobile food pantry operations, senior nutrition program operations, and to receive, store, and distribute goods to food pantries.
In partnership with Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, Western Center on Law and Poverty, and The Public Interest Law Project, Sidley obtained a major victory on behalf of Hunger Action Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Community Action Network. In June 2022, the Los Angeles Superior Court entered a permanent injunction in the case Hunger Action Los Angeles, et al. v. County of Los Angeles, et al., requiring the county to process and approve emergency applications for CalFresh — formerly known as food stamps — in a timely manner. The injunction will impact thousands of vulnerable families experiencing dangerous food insecurity in Los Angeles County each month.
Peter, a CalFresh applicant named in the lawsuit, was 17 years old when his father suffered a severe stroke that left him partially paralyzed and unable to continue his work as a day laborer. Peter should have received access to CalFresh in three days. Instead, the family heard nothing from the county for 17 days, at which time someone called and left a message. When Peter’s father tried to return the call, he got a “high call-volume” message and was disconnected. Then he received a letter stating Peter’s application had been denied. This victory will help CalFresh applicants like Peter receive the much-needed food assistance they require.
Working with Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, Sidley secured a major victory for the Hillcrest Union, which represents the residents of the dilapidated, roach-infested Hillcrest Apartments in Mesquite, Texas. In 2022, less than six months after the City of Mesquite sued the out-of-state owners of the complex for widespread, chronic code violations, the owner entity filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, effectively putting the City’s highly publicized lawsuit on hold. After protracted negotiations and litigation in bankruptcy court, the Hillcrest Union reached a settlement with the debtor and lenders and secured the provisions it had previously sought, including a $15,000 tenant fund to help cover costs when tenants have to move and the appointment of a tenant liaison, paid for by the debtor, who will be tasked with holding monthly meetings with and representing the needs of the tenants as they work with new management to continue to repair the property.