Bar Bulletin

Bar Bulletin

K&L Gates and Amazon Share Pro Bono Prize

November 2020 Bar Bulletin

By Shannan Frisbee and Anne Daly

Congratulations to K&L Gates and Amazon, which recently received the 2020 Corporate Pro Bono Partner Award from the Pro Bono Institute’s Corporate Pro Bono Project for their joint contributions supporting Mary’s Place, an organization providing shelter and services to women, children and families in their journey out of homelessness. 

Together, K&L Gates and Amazon, a K&L Gates client, operate a regularly provided legal clinic for guests of Mary’s Place emergency family shelters throughout King County. Meeting with volunteer attorneys, individuals receive advice, referrals and limited representation on matters ranging from landlord/tenant disputes and evictions, financial issues, restraining and protection orders, identity theft, employment and medical issues, and expunging criminal records.

The clinic began almost three years ago. K&L Gates met with Amazon and offered to leverage its experience supporting the legal clinic at the Aloha Inn homeless shelter in Seattle to help Amazon set up a legal clinic at Mary’s Place. The King County Bar Association helped Amazon attorneys find solutions to practical and logistical issues regarding operating a clinic and provided initial administrative support. K&L Gates developed a comprehensive resource guide and trainings to prepare Amazon attorneys to provide legal support to Mary’s Place guests. K&L Gates lawyers with subject matter expertise were available at each clinic to help answer questions from volunteer attorneys. 

Today, Amazon attorneys volunteer every week at the Mary’s Place clinic, which is operating virtually as a result of COVID-19. In response to the pandemic, K&L Gates attorneys compiled and regularly update an interactive guide of resources available to Washington residents for use by Mary’s Place staff and clinic volunteers. K&L Gates also developed training materials and forms to enable guests to execute medical and financial powers of attorney and health care directives. The COVID-19 resource guide is also publicly available to other pro bono clinics, non-profit service providers and individuals throughout the region. 

“K&L Gates is extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with Amazon to provide services to our community that are meaningful and that aid individuals on their journey out of homelessness,” said Shannan Frisbie, a partner in K&L Gates’ technology transactions practice, who leads the firm’s pro bono partnership with Amazon on Mary’s Place. “The work I have done with Mary’s Place is some of the most meaningful work of my 20-plus-year legal career and I look forward to what K&L Gates and Amazon can further accomplish together over the coming years.”

The Corporate Pro Bono Partner Awards were created to recognize innovative pro bono collaborations of in-house legal departments with law firms and public interest organizations, with each honoree having a demonstrated an impact addressing a critical legal need in a vulnerable community through pro bono legal work. 

K&L Gates Managing Partner, Pallavi Mehta Wahi, and Amazon Senior Vice President and General Counsel David Zapolsky, serve on the King County Bar Foundation Board, which raises money for KCBA pro bono programs as well as the King County Law Firm Campaign to provide funding to civil legal aid and pro bono programs statewide. It is not surprising these two entities would join forces to serve vulnerable members of our community. The impact of this partnership and the work done on behalf of Mary’s Place guests, is tremendous and fills a much needed gap for those living in emergency housing. 

Please join KCBA in extending much-deserved congratulations to K&L Gates and Amazon on receiving this award. Let’s hope this great partnership inspires many more to blossom in the coming months. 

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