Holland & Knight has a long tradition of public service. The firm's commitment to pro bono work was led by the late Chesterfield Smith, the firm's founder and chairman emeritus. Mr. Smith imbued Holland & Knight with a sense of community purpose and the recognition that the firm has a duty to provide free legal service to people in need as well as the organizations that assist them. These time-honored traditions still play a defining role at Holland & Knight.
Our Public and Charitable Service Department
Holland & Knight's Public and Charitable Service Department was created in 2009 to integrate the firm’s global pro bono, community service and charitable giving initiatives to make deeper investments in communities in need. Several of our integrated efforts are featured below. Our firm is proud to provide legal and organizational assistance to these positive forces for social change.
Active-duty military service personnel often face complicated legal issues while they serve our country. We've joined the American Bar Association's Military Pro Bono Project to help these individuals and their families with a variety of legal needs. As a result of this work, the ABA honored Holland & Knight with a 2015 ABA Military Pro Bono Project Outstanding Services award. Holland & Knight dedicates significant resources to initiatives that benefit military veterans, including supporting the Wounded Warrior Project, providing legal services for the United Way's Mission United Initiative to assist veterans with civilian re-acclimation, and partnering with the ABA's Section of Taxation and the Internal Revenue Service to coordinate a Military Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.
The nonprofit MyGoodDeed was founded in 2002 to carry forward the remarkable spirit of service that arose after September 11, 2001. The organization was co-founded by Jay Winuk, the brother of Glenn Winuk, a Holland & Knight partner and volunteer firefighter/EMT, who lost his life in the line of duty as a rescuer at the World Trade Center. We serve as general counsel, provide pro bono legal services from corporate governance guidance to transactional and intellectual property strategy, and make financial and operational investments in the 9/11 Day of Service. In 2015, we assisted 90 nonprofits through more than 2,800 service days performed by our employees, ranging from school refurbishment projects and preparing meals for homeless families and veterans to arranging holiday events for sick children in healthcare facilities.
Best Buddies International is the world's largest program dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Holland & Knight has supported the organization for more than 20 years by serving as outside general counsel, on its board of directors and for local advisory boards; providing financial support for Best Buddies' awareness events that promote disability rights to a wider audience; and employing individuals through the Best Buddies Jobs program. We applaud Best Buddies' commitment to advocate for the rights of people with IDD as demonstrated by the Buddy Ambassador pictured during a congressional visit.
When Florida mandated Holocaust education in the state’s public schools in the mid-1990s, Holland & Knight assisted in preparing the first curriculum. Since then, we have focused on creating awareness about the Holocaust and genocide, and promoting the lessons learned from extraordinary stories of human courage and compassion. Our attorneys teamed up with Bet Tzedek to help hundreds of Holocaust survivors recover thousands of dollars in reparations from the German government and gain access to pro bono legal services. The firm works with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Lawyers Committee, which provides professional development initiatives to study the legal ramifications of the Holocaust. We also support other organizations that are active in this area of focus, such as Facing History and Ourselves and the Anti-Defamation League.
Through the Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation’s Opening Doors for Children program, the firm’s attorneys and staff help students who are at risk of never realizing their full potential. We partner with schools and nonprofits in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods to provide tutoring, serve as mentors and enhance their curricula. For example, at Charles R. Darwin Elementary School in Chicago, students who are struggling with reading get help from our volunteers during “power lunches” held in the classrooms. Through a Reading Is Fundamental program, they take home a minimum of three books per year to spark their interest in reading. Many of these students also learn about the history of the United States and are introduced to the legal system through a partnership with the Constitutional Rights Foundation.