Cohen & Gresser’s commitment to public service is a hallmark of the firm. Our attorneys devote thousands of hours each year to public service in pro bono matters ranging from impact litigation to representation of individual clients in desperate need of legal assistance.
With support from professionals throughout the firm, Cohen & Gresser lawyers strive to obtain justice and make a tangible difference for underserved communities, disadvantaged individuals and families, and non-profit organizations that share our dedication to increasing opportunities for all and advancing the communities in which we live and work.
The firm’s Pro Bono Committee, led by Daniel H. Tabak, partners with respected legal services organizations to assist those in need. Our lawyers are encouraged to devote time to pro bono legal work, and many serve in key leadership positions at organizations committed to serving our communities, drawing on the example set by our founding partners. For example, Lawrence T. Gresser is a past Chairman of the Board of Directors of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI) and Mark S. Cohen serves on the Public Service Committee of the Federal Bar Council.
Cohen & Gresser lawyers are encouraged to seek out opportunities and create platforms to address unmet legal and societal needs. Recently, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, C&G’s London office co-founded the Africa Pandemic Response Alliance (APRA), a coalition of non-profits and corporations addressing the unique healthcare and economic challenges facing certain higher-risk African countries during the pandemic.
Pro bono service is an integral and valued part of our firm culture in each of our local offices, and we are proud of our commitment to public service and to improving the lives of those around us. Our pro bono clients inspire us daily, as we aim to make a difference in their lives.
Cohen & Gresser believes it is vital that all individuals are protected against discrimination and treated with dignity, compassion, and respect. On behalf of our pro bono clients, our lawyers seek to ensure that the victims of discrimination and other unfair practices have access to justice.
C&G’s Recent Civil Rights Pro Bono Work:
- Partnering with the ACLU of Louisiana and other private law firms and corporations in the Justice Lab initiative, which challenges racially discriminatory policing practices, through litigation and other restorative justice efforts
- Representing 37 women’s rights organizations led by the National Women’s Law Center as amici curiae in landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases confirming that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s prohibition on sex discrimination in the workplace protects against discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation
- Securing judgment for New York State judges declaring that their pay raises were unconstitutionally linked to other legislation and representing the judges in seeking back pay that they were denied as a result of this state constitutional violation
- Representing the National Women’s Law Center and over 30 other women’s organizations as amici curiae before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in challenging the insufficient remedies awarded to the first transgender employee to secure a Title VII employment discrimination and retaliation jury verdict
- Counseling a sexual harassment victim in a Taxi and Limousine Commission hearing process that resulted in the harasser losing his taxicab license
Cohen & Gresser is dedicated to protecting vulnerable and displaced people escaping violence, persecution, armed conflict, or natural disasters in their home countries, including refugees and holders of Temporary Protected Status, and shedding light on the mistreatment of at-risk individuals while in federal custody.
C&G’s Recent Immigrant Justice Pro Bono Work:
- Obtaining asylum for a young woman persecuted in her home country as a result of her sexual orientation
- Obtaining asylum for a Haitian journalist as a result of death threats he received in response to his reporting
- Representing a young man from Russia seeking asylum in the United States after he was attacked because of his sexual orientation
- Advocating for beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status to be able to seek lawful permanent residency on equal terms with other nonimmigrants
- On behalf of watchdog non-profit organization, seeking the release of records regarding the treatment and deaths of women, children, and transgender individuals in the custody of federal immigration agencies
Cohen & Gresser works to achieve justice for indigent defendants caught up in the criminal justice system by challenging wrongful convictions and unreasonably excessive sentences. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our lawyers swiftly sought the compassionate release of several prisoners with high-risk medical conditions.
C&G’s Recent Criminal Justice Pro Bono Work:
- Represented the Innocence Network in challenging wrongful convictions before federal courts of appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court
- Partnering with human rights organization Reprieve to develop submission templates for the Malawian Legal Aid Bureau to utilize in their representation of defendants accused of crimes against people with albinism who are often sentenced to death based on confessions or evidence obtained through torture
- Working with Reprieve in London and Malawi to draft a bill to be introduced to the Malawian Parliament to secure the abolition of the death penalty
- Obtaining the dismissal of charges against a hearing-impaired woman wrongly arrested because the police had difficulty understanding her
- Representing a federal inmate in connection with a potential clemency petition through Clemency Project 2014
- Petitioning for the compassionate release of several prisoners based on medical conditions heightening their risk of suffering severe complications due to COVID-19
- Representing previous exonerees as amici curiae in Supreme Court cert petition on behalf of death row inmate
Justice for Survivors of Gender-Based Violence
Cohen & Gresser is committed to ending gender-based violence and obtaining justice for survivors of sex-trafficking, domestic violence, and other forms of gender-based violence.
C&G’s Recent Gender-Based Violence Pro Bono Work:
- Obtaining an appellate victory on behalf of a survivor of domestic violence in a custody dispute against her abuser
- Representing a survivor of sex trafficking in appealing denial of a T-visa
- Representing a survivor of domestic violence in an immigration appeal
- Representing a trafficking victim in fair hearings to restore needed benefits for her family
- Supporting Sanctuary for Families, New York’s leading service provider and advocate for survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking, and related forms of gender-based violence, through its Pro Bono Council
Cohen & Gresser is committed to helping persons with disabilities, including veterans seeking the benefits and accommodations to which they are entitled under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
C&G’s Recent Disability Justice Pro Bono Work:
- Obtaining accommodations from a landlord that enabled our disabled client to enter and exit her apartment
- Representing an individual who uses a wheelchair and was turned away from an event on account of his disability
- Representing a veteran in connection with a claim to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and two appeals of the denial of disability benefits to the Board of Veterans Appeals
Non-Profit Organization Legal Assistance
Drawing from their cross-practice experience, Cohen & Gresser lawyers provide a range of legal services to enhance non-profit organizations’ ability to manage their day-to-day operations and position themselves for future growth.
C&G’s Recent Work for Non-Profit Organizations:
- Incorporating and obtaining tax-exempt status for non-profit organizations
- Representing a not-for-profit corporation founded by and serving a West African community in two foreclosure proceedings and in connection with the sale of a building in the South Bronx
- Representing a not-for-profit organization providing services to at risk-women in responding to allegations of misconduct
- Preparing a non-profit organization’s legal director to testify before the U.S. Civil Rights Commission regarding the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s enforcement efforts to combat workplace sexual harassment across the federal government