Pro Bono Efforts Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic
As Foley Hoag reached 18 months of working remotely due to the global COVID-19 outbreak, we looked back at how the firm became engaged in helping our clients address the unique challenges posed by the pandemic. Over the past year-and-a-half, we assisted a number of community groups, provided pro bono legal services to numerous individuals and organizations, and teamed with existing and new clients affected by the pandemic. We are proud to have played an integral role in helping our clients and others confront and navigate COVID-19. Please click here for a summary of some of our pro bono efforts in this capacity.


Foley Hoag has focused its pro bono efforts on immigration for the past several years, representing low-income clients seeking various types of immigration relief, including asylum, permanent residence under the Violence Against Women Act, withholding of deportation, and special immigrant juvenile status.  Our clients are referred to us by several legal services partners, including the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project (PAIR), Community Legal Services and Counseling Center, Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights, Human Rights First, Sanctuary for Families, and Amnesty International. As an example, Foley Hoag has a vital practice in collaboration with KIND, a national non-profit organization that serves unaccompanied immigrant children facing the possibility of being deported from the U.S. Many of these children have suffered abuse, neglect, abandonment, or persecution in their home countries. 

LGBTQ Civil Rights

Foley Hoag is a longtime advocate for equal rights for gay and lesbian individuals. In 2009, we co-filed a federal lawsuit with Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and another firm to obtain federal benefits for same-sex married couples. The suit resulted in the first district court ruling striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). After the ruling was appealed, the First Circuit affirmed our victory, declaring that the plaintiffs had the same federal spousal benefits as any other married couple. Foley Hoag continues to devote a considerable amount of pro bono hours to vindicating civil rights for LGBTQ individuals. The firm has worked on several transgender rights cases, including obtaining name changes for transgender prisoners, and filing amicus briefs in support of treating transgender students in a manner that is consistent with the student’s gender identity. Most recently, Foley Hoag LLP has joined lawyers from GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and WilmerHale in filing a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of five active-duty servicemembers to prevent implementation of President Donald J. Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military.

Fair Housing

Foley Hoag has helped to protect the fair housing rights of hundreds of families and individuals. The firm’s legal work has involved challenges to steering and other discrimination in the sale and rental of housing, innovative efforts to undo the perpetuation of segregation in Massachusetts communities, and collaborations with leading non-profit advocacy and civil rights group Foley Hoag has helped to protect the fair housing rights of dozens of families and individuals.

Domestic Violence

For more than 25 years, Foley Hoag lawyers have helped victims of domestic violence and sexual assaults obtain protective orders and other forms of relief. Today, more than 30 Foley Hoag lawyers and paralegals are active in this work. Our pioneering program has been at the forefront of legal change in this area. Foley Hoag has represented either a party or an amicus in many of the most significant appellate cases involving domestic violence in Massachusetts.

Artist Representation

Foley Hoag works with Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA) in Boston and New York to provide necessary legal services to the local artistic community. VLA provides pro bono arts-related legal representation and education to low-income artists and nonprofit arts and cultural organizations of all artistic disciplines, including visual arts, design, dance, theater, film and music. Foley Hoag’s intellectual property attorneys have represented local artists in a number of trademark and patent issues, in partnership with the Patent Pro Bono Program of New England.

Civil Appeals Clinic at the Massachusetts Appeals Court

Foley Hoag attorneys and pro bono attorneys from several other law firms have staffed a weekly Pro Bono Civil Appeals at the Massachusetts Appeals Court. At the Clinic, self-represented litigants who qualify for assistance meet with volunteer attorneys, who screen the case for ripeness, give general advice concerning appellate issues and procedure, and provide and assist with self-help materials. In addition to meeting with qualified litigants, the volunteer attorneys assess whether a litigant’s case should be reviewed for further representation, considering whether the appeal is likely meritorious, has broad-based implications for low-income people and/or constitutes a legal error (as opposed to an abuse of discretion). If the case is approved for further consideration, the volunteer attorney collects additional information from the litigant and refers the case to a panel of experienced appellate attorneys and legal services attorneys for a closer examination. The best cases are selected to be referred to participating law firms for representation.

District Attorney's Office Rotation

In 1997, the firm initiated a program with the Norfolk County District Attorney's Office in which litigation associates spend four months working full-time at that office. This program offers an opportunity to serve the public, and provides litigation associates with substantial trial experience.

Indigent Criminal Defense

Foley Hoag represents a wide range of indigent criminal defendants in state and federal court from the time of arrest, through trial or plea negotiations, at sentencing and on appeal. Most recently, cases have included defendants charged with murder, narcotics offenses, and sex trafficking offenses. Past efforts by Foley attorneys have led to the reversal of wrongful convictions, not guilty verdicts, reductions in charges, sentences below the advisory Guidelines and reversals on appeal.

International Human Rights

Foley Hoag collaborates with a number of international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International France, Medecins San Frontieres, Equal Justice under the Law, Inc., and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Finance Initiative. In addition to providing pro bono legal services, the firm has filed Guantanamo Bay habeas corpus petitions and written a report called “Banks and Human Rights: A Legal Analysis” report in conjunction with the UNEP.


Foley Hoag regularly assists non-profit organizations as well as some small businesses in economically-disadvantaged areas in a variety of legal areas, including, entity formation, tax, employment, and intellectual property issues. Our lawyers provide pro bono assistance to more than 200 non-profit and small business organizations involved in charitable causes, environmental protection, civil rights; and protection of women, children, people in the LGBTQ community, and persons with disabilities.

Social Enterprise and Humanitarian Efforts

Foley Hoag is a member firm of the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation and partners with a number of humanitarian and social enterprise organizations, such as MASS Design, APOPO, Root Capital, D-Tree International, Grassroots International and Public Interest Intellectual Property Advisors (PIIPA), to provide pro bono legal service.

Community Partnerships

For a sampling of our Community Partnerships, click here.

Foley Hoag has pro bono partnerships with Center for Women and Enterprise and Project Citizenship among others