“I continue to be amazed both at the diversity of causes that Hogan Lovells lawyers take on and the energy and talent with which they pursue justice in their communities.”
- Allison Holt, Senior Associate, Washington, D.C.
I currently serve as the Pro Bono Department’s senior associate, which means that I focus 100% of my time on the firm’s U.S. Pro Bono practice — a practice that in 2013 encompassed more than 82,000 hours from over 900 lawyers in 12 offices across the country. This 18-month rotating position, during which you work in close collaboration with the pro bono partner and a team of junior associate rotators and other legal professionals, is open to all associates at the firm. The Pro Bono Department is made up of high-energy, intelligent, and compassionate professionals. We push ourselves hard because our clients are among the most vulnerable populations imaginable. They need advocates, and we strive to provide them with that. Prior to my current position, I was an associate in our Litigation practice, where I will return after my pro bono rotation is complete.
Getting to know Hogan Lovells
Coming into 2L recruiting, I knew what I wanted, but I wasn’t certain I would find it. On the one hand, I wanted a challenge — I was looking for a large Washington, D.C. firm with an elite Litigation practice where I could surround myself with talented lawyers, work on engaging matters, and push myself and my practice to reach my professional potential. But equally important to me was that I felt a connection with my colleagues and my firm. I wanted a personal feel and a collaborative work environment where I could feel at home. I grew up in a small town in Tennessee and knew I would thrive most at a firm that welcomed me as one of their own and nurtured my career. Throughout my five years here, Hogan Lovells has been that firm.
I have my own docket of pro bono case work, which includes a large class action lawsuit on behalf of homeless families to improve the District of Columbia’s shelter conditions, a state habeas case on behalf of a wrongfully imprisoned man in Virginia, and an immigration matter on behalf of two children escaping gang violence in Honduras. My practice also includes supervising and assisting junior lawyers with their own pro bono case loads. All told, this substantive case work takes up about half of my time.
The other half of my day is spent helping the firm’s 900+ lawyers connect with pro bono opportunities that are meaningful to them and that will help them grow in their practice. I help to identify worthy projects, pair them with the right lawyers, and then help those lawyers leverage our team’s resources in managing their projects. Though I would not have predicted it, this is one of my favorite parts of the job. Meeting and working with so many talented, dedicated lawyers from all over the country has shown me the fabric of our firm. It’s the commitment of our people that makes Hogan Lovells such a special place to work.
I’ve had opportunities to “punch above my weight class” in both billable matters and pro bono projects. By the end of my first year at the firm, I served as the lead associate on a billable litigation matter that culminated in a two-week, multimillion-dollar arbitration in Hawaii. I was responsible for the initial drafting of all pre- and post-trial briefs, preparing witness examinations, and compiling all exhibits. I also worked closely with our expert witness to prepare his report and to prepare him to testify. Also at the end of my first year, I handled a hearing in a pro bono matter that involved putting on direct testimony, cross examining witnesses, and arguing motions to an administrative law judge. As a fifth-year associate, I served as the lead lawyer on the above-referenced class action lawsuit on behalf of local homeless families. I am preparing for my first appellate argument in that case to uphold an injunction that we won at the trial court level.
My experience so far has been typical of many here. The firm is conscious of the impact that hands-on involvement has on young lawyers’ learning curves and on their drive and ambition. Partners work proactively to get associates “on their feet” experiences and to make sure they are prepared when they come. Due in part to Hogan Lovells’ commitment to pro bono, junior lawyers also get opportunities to have meaningful courtroom experience early on.
I think when firms talk about their “culture” and “atmosphere,” they’re talking about people. The people here have a refreshing three-dimensionality to them and a real affinity for one another. When I was a summer associate, I used to think that the junior lawyers I met were the types of people I wanted to be friends with, and the more seasoned ones were examples of who I wanted to be in the future. As I grow more senior, those assumptions have only been confirmed.
During my callback, I interviewed with a young female partner in the Litigation practice whom I found spectacularly impressive. When I matriculated as an associate, I ended up working closely with her on several litigation projects. She is a fantastic lawyer and has been a wonderful role model to me. I’ve learned so much from working with her — not only about the nuts and bolts of practicing in the trenches, but also how, as a young female professional, to navigate complex business relationships, nuanced social settings, and the balance between work and home. She has been exceedingly generous with her time and her advice, and her example alone has been invaluable to me and my development.
I was a summer associate in the class of 2008. One moment that stands out in my mind is listening to the then pro bono partner and senior associate speak on a panel discussing Hogan Lovells’ pro bono efforts. I distinctly remember hearing with awe — and a fair amount of skepticism — about the firm’s commitment to pro bono. From my first day as an associate here (when I was a pro bono junior associate rotator), I have witnessed this commitment every day. I continue to be amazed both at the diversity of causes that Hogan Lovells lawyers take on and the energy and talent with which they pursue justice in their communities.
Working on the homeless families’ class action has been the most rewarding experience of my professional life. In the District, homeless people have a right to shelter on nights when the temperature drops below freezing, and homeless families have the statutory right to be sheltered together in a private space, away from strangers. And yet, the District began putting homeless families in communal shelters, which created a perilous and unsafe environment for them. This litigation gave me the opportunity to work with one of the District’s most vulnerable and underserved populations — homeless children — and, by bringing this suit, we were able to plug in our lawyers and our firm to one of the most pressing issues currently facing our community.
A 2009 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School, I worked with Hogan Lovells as a summer associate before joining the Washington, D.C. office in 2010. Prior to joining Hogan Lovells as an associate, I spent a year clerking for The Honorable Gilbert S. Merritt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Before law school, I worked as a reading teacher at Thomas Edison Middle School, a Title I school in Houston.
I have a demonstrated commitment to pro bono and public interest litigation and currently serve as the full-time senior associate for the U.S. Pro Bono practice. In this capacity, I work alongside the pro bono partner and a team of junior associate rotators and legal professionals to support our U.S. offices’ pro bono efforts. Prior to this position, I was a member of the Litigation practice and will return to that group after my pro bono rotation is complete.