Finnegan initiated its Litigation Mentor Program in 2000, then one of the only programs of its kind in the nation. This ambitious and rare program is a unique opportunity for newer lawyers to give back to the community while improving their trial advocacy skills. Barbara Butterworth, an attorney at Finnegan and the firm's Litigation Mentor since 2005, provides in her article an overview of Finnegan's extensive pro bono program.
Since the program's inception, lawyers in the Litigation Mentor Program have represented more than 50 criminal defendants through every phase of the criminal process. In January 2004, Finnegan renewed and increased its commitment to its firm-wide civil pro bono program. The firm assigned retired partner and experienced trial lawyer John Lowe as full-time Pro Bono Coordinator. One of the firm's signature efforts in civil pro bono was the rescue of the nonprofit organization Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts (WALA), which provides legal advice and referrals for artists needing legal representation. The firm also runs a free legal clinic at a local homeless shelter one night each month. In addition, the firm rounds out its civil pro bono work by providing pro bono lawyers for work on cases from organizations specializing in immigration, small claims, and veterans' rights.
John Lowe captures the experience of the firm when he is quoted, "Our pro bono cases have genuinely touched the lawyers who have worked on them—and have probably changed those lawyers forever."