Pro Bono Activity Is Robust at New Jersey Bellwether Firms

July 26, 2012 – In The News
New Jersey Law Journal
Fox Rothschild’s New Jersey attorneys were recently featured in the New Jersey Law Journal for their pro bono work. A survey conducted by the NJLJ found that in 2011, Fox’s New Jersey attorneys nearly tripled their total hours of pro bono work from 2010, from 1,960 to 6,200.

Jacqueline Carolan, who chairs Fox's pro bono committee, noted several reasons for the increase.

One of the reasons is the added emphasis that the firm has been placing on pro bono work. "We have really been encouraging people to do it," Carolan said.

Carolan also mentioned several court-appointed guardianship cases with complicated medical issues and the fact that "[Fox is] seeing more senior or retiring partners doing pro bono as they wind down their own practices."

One matter of particular interest was a First Amendment case handled by Jeffrey Pollock, a partner and member of the firm’s Princeton office, on behalf of the ACLUNJ.

Pollock worked with Whittier Law School professor Seval Yidirim representing a woman who objected to the Neptune High School graduation ceremony taking place at Ocean Grove's Great Auditorium, its site for more than 70 years.

Pollock's client had noticed that the building is crowned by an illuminated cross, and has electronic signs inside that say "Holiness to the Lord" and "So Be Ye Holy."

Pollock contacted to the school board on his client's behalf, and demanded that it find a secular location for future graduations. The school board agreed to cover up the interior electronic signs and de-illuminate the cross during future graduations and have seniors enter by a door other than the one beneath the cross. It also agreed to forgo hymns, prayers and other religious content during the ceremonies.

Pollock says the dispute wasn't a clash between Christianity and other religions but about ensuring that all graduates and their families feel welcome, regardless of their faith.