Each year, the Pro Bono Committee at Gibson Dunn gives out Frank Wheat Memorial Awards to those lawyers who have provided exceptional pro bono service to those in need. The awards are handed out on the basis of leadership, initiative, and results. More than that, Gibson Dunn provides them as a way to motivate and inspire other lawyers to do the say — as a sort of pay it forward maneuver.
The Multi-Office of COVID-19 Response to Small Business Needs won an award due to their work to help those who found themselves in dire financial straits because of lost income. Start Small Think Big focused its team efforts to small businesses that are minority owned or female owned. The group launched a new program to increase response time to facilitate and streamline legal consultations to determine if representation was required.
New York Moves Forward collaborated with the state of New York and the governor’s office to create and manage an online portal to provide information to small businesses about the CARES Act and how it might be used to provide federal aid to those businesses. The group fielded requests from more than 70 nonprofit organizations.
La Cocina is a San Francisco nonprofit built to provide legal advice to underrepresented clients of color, including women and immigrants. They collaborated with Gibson Dunn to help businesses owned by these individuals determine flexibility with leases during the coronavirus pandemic.
The La Cocina Board of Directors stated that Dunn’s “support has allowed La Cocina staff and volunteers to spend even more time on critical entrepreneur and community support including The Emergency Relief Fund, an ongoing fundraising effort that has already distributed much-needed support to our La Cocina applicants as well as growing membership.”
The awards were given to a group of nearly 200 lawyers whose pro bono work amounted to around 4,300 hours of time.