Service to the community is a highly valued and long-standing tradition at Sullivan. Members of the firm provide pro bono or reduced-fee legal services, volunteer their time, and make financial donations to numerous public-interest organizations and charitable causes, including educational and cultural institutions, environmental initiatives, civil rights agencies, and organizations against domestic violence and child abuse.
Sullivan has a documented pro bono policy and encourages and supports active participation by all its attorneys in a broad spectrum of pro bono activities that reflect the diverse interests and experience of the lawyers in the firm.
Pro bono matters are given the same professional attention and billable hour credit as other matters handled by the firm. The firm generally supports all reasonable and well-considered pro bono projects.
College Bound Dorchester, Inc.A great example of the work we do with specific communities is our work in Dorchester, Massachusetts. In 1965, Sullivan lawyers helped create College Bound Dorchester, Inc. (formerly known as Federated Dorchester Neighborhood Houses, Inc.) by merging several settlement houses. Since that time, countless lawyers and paralegals have devoted thousands of hours of pro bono time to College Bound Dorchester in a variety of disciplines including tax, litigation, real estate, general corporate, financing, and employment and benefits.
Neighborhood House Charter School
NBC Nightly News recently featured a piece on College Bound Dorchester, highlighting its place in the community and goals for the future. Click the links below to view the segments:
Neighborhood House Charter School (NHCS), a model of success within the charter school movement. Today NHCS operates out of the Charles C. Cabot, Jr. Building, named for a late partner of the firm. Our lawyers have fully supported the legal needs of NHCS and its related foundation on matters that have included real estate, general corporate, financing, tax, and employment and benefits. Several of our lawyers have also served as clerks and/or trustees of each of these organizations.
DIFFvelopment is a trailblazing nonprofit organization that aims to play a key role in driving the creation of sustainable Black personal, generational and communal wealth by empowering the next generation of Black visionary leaders to prioritize historically and globally conscious community-minded entrepreneurial activity. Through its commitment to “Re-empowering the global Black community through historically centered re-education that empowers aspiring Black visionaries to develop their world differently,” DIFFvelopment sustainably solves deep-seated historical knowledge and wealth gap issues, caused by centuries of global Black economic oppression.
Targeting Black college students and recent graduates, DIFFvelopment drives this impact through life-changing summer internship, generational wealth, coaching and online resource center programs that offer Africana history training seen through an analytical economic lens and equip beneficiaries with executable business concepts, rock-solid easy to follow roadmaps for personal development and financial security and lifelong access to practical resources and a community of Black business mentors. To-date, DIFFvelopment has reached over 2,700 beneficiaries and supported the creation of over a dozen new Black-owned businesses, provided summer internship alumni with over $11,000 in business startup financing and helped nearly 90 percent of alumni in the labor force obtain gainful employment.
DIFFvelopment is a pro bono client of Sullivan, and partner, Arinze Onugha, is currently its Board Chair.
Coalition for the Homeless
Coalition for the Homeless is the nation’s oldest advocacy and direct service organization helping homeless men, women and children. It believes that affordable housing, sufficient food and the chance to work for a living wage are fundamental rights in a civilized society. Since its inception in 1981, the Coalition has worked through litigation, public education and direct services to ensure that these goals are realized.
The Coalition’s First Step Job Training Program was launched in 1991 to give homeless and low-income women the training, social support, education and work experience they need to overcome those obstacles, empowering them to build a better life for themselves and their families. The program enrolls roughly 200 women per year, offering computer instruction, literacy workshops, communication and interpersonal skills development, and other hands-on activities to give students a thorough and practical understanding of the job market and workplace. After placing students in internships with major corporations or non-profit organizations, First Step also provides a lifetime of post-graduate services, including job placement assistance, ongoing mentoring from staff and volunteers, support groups, additional training seminars, and numerous networking opportunities with alumni and business professionals.
Corporate partner Natalie Lederman has been involved with First Step in various capacities since 2011, and has been a member of the program’s advisory board since 2019.
Sullivan's pro bono client OncArt, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization based in Boston, Massachusetts that connects clinicians with artists to create illustrated health education materials that are available worldwide. OncArt materials are designed especially for people in low-resource regions where advaned stages of disease are high, literacy levels are low and clinicians do not speak the same language as their patients. Through a responsive, web-based app, OncArt is able to offer a unique collaborative design tool and a free library of works searchable by user-generated hashtags for electronic sharing or downloading to print. The websites of the National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are the site’s sources for supplementing and fact-checking all content for medical accuracy.
OncArt is a member of the global health campaign Healthcare Information For All (HIFA), including support from the British Medical Association (main funder) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Sullivan is proud to support OncArt in its mission: "Art for Health Literacy, Everywhere." Click here to check out their web app.
The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc.The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc. is located in Malden, MA and is a not-for-profit providing free basic English literacy classes for adults who have no or very limited English skills (and sometimes have no language in which they are literate). It also offers free classes leading to application for U.S. citizenship. Its classes are available regardless of documentary status. The firm has supported the ILC throughout its twenty-nine year existence, providing its incorporation as a not-for-profit and obtaining federal tax exempt status, and assisting thereafter in general corporate and employment, litigation and intellectual property matters.
Other supported organizations include:
- American Friends of the Hebrew University
- Massachusetts Council on Economic Education
- Foundation for Neurologic Diseases
The firm has an ongoing working relationship with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law of the Boston Bar Association. For more than a decade, at least one of our partners has been a member of the steering committee, and we have acted as co-counsel with the committee on numerous important civil rights cases involving such matters as racial discrimination, bilingual education, housing integration and public transportation.
Sullivan has also worked for the past several years with Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), New England's leading legal rights organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status, and gender identity and expression. We acted as tax counsel for GLAD in its filing of the first concerted, multi-plaintiff legal challenge to Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Our lawyers have written and filed amicus briefs in the Supreme Court on behalf of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) on a 2013 DOMA case (United States v. Windsor) as well as the Proposition 8 case that was mooted for lack of standing (also in 2013). Since then, we have written and filed amicus briefs for GLMA in the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth and Tenth Circuits, and the Supreme Court.
In conjunction with Greater Boston Legal Services, our lawyers provide direct representation to victims of domestic violence seeking restraining orders, child support and custody. We also participate in and host meetings of the Domestic Violence Council (DVC), an unincorporated association of legal service providers. For more than 10 years, the DVC has been instrumental in creating and strengthening Massachusetts case law to protect victims of domestic violence. We also host trainings for the Victim Rights Law Center. We handle restraining order cases regularly for both DVC and the Victim Rights Law Center, and we have also assisted in privacy rights cases and immigration matters for survivors of sexual assault.
The Black TV & Film Collective is a New York-based nonprofit organization with a simple mission: to create career advancing opportunities for Black and Brown artists to achieve their long-term goals within the entertainment industry. It provides critical production support enabling members to build a strong body of work, supplemented by workshops and labs focused on craft development and networking events to foster relationship building. The Black TV & Film Collective is a pro bono client of the firm, and Arinze Onugha is a member of their Board of Directors.
Sullivan is proud to partner with The New England Innocence Project to help further its mission of fighting injustice within the criminal legal system on behalf of innocent people imprisoned for crimes they did not commit in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Our attorneys assist NEIP by reviewing applicant cases, conducting in-depth factual investigations, and drafting legal memoranda on the applicant’s potential path to exoneration.
On numerous occasions, Sullivan has acted as co-counsel with the Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. As a result of one such action, Massachusetts lawmakers modified regulations to ensure that individuals alleged to have committed abuse have the right to a hearing to contest that finding.
Sullivan has provided extensive corporate, real estate and environmental representation to the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), New England's leading environmental advocacy organization. In addition, we have advised the CLF on a number of its environmental-protection efforts.