Dewey shows its roots with New York gardening advice

It should be no surprise that, as a New York-based firm, Dewey Ballantine was more than keen to offer its services for free to an 11 September-related charity.

According to London-based partner Adam Dann, the firm began working with September’s Mission soon after the terrorist attacks on the twin towers. September’s Mission is a not-for-profit organisation that develops community programmes for children in New York, Washington DC and Philadelphia. Now, in a related development, two Dewey teams, one in the US and one based in London, are advising the St George’s Society of New York, a charitable foundation founded in 1770 by English residents of New York, in connection with the establishment of a British memorial garden in Hanover Square in Lower Manhattan.

The gardens will commemorate the UK nationals who lost their lives in the attacks on the World Trade Center. They will also mark the wartime sacrifice by the many thousands of UK (and other) servicemen who have died alongside US soldiers.

A Dewey team (including associate Elizabeth Aston in New York) is advising on the formation of, and the ongoing legal services to, the not-for-profit British Memorial Garden Trust. The London office, with a team led by Dann and featuring associate John Dakin, is advising on the formation of a separate UK charitable entity, which will also raise funds to help establish and maintain the British Memorial Garden and to provide support to the UK victims of terror.

The initial trustees of the project include some high-profile names, including Camilla Hellman (of mayonnaise fame) and what Dann calls “very high-level royalty”. The firm The 40-lawyer strong London office of Dewey Ballantine is rapidly raising its profile in local pro bono matters. As well as the 11 September-related work in which it is involved, the firm is a member of the Community Development Group, which was recently established by a number of US firms in London, and is also a member of the Solicitors Pro Bono Group.

A cross-Atlantic team totalling three partners and nine associates worked on the memorial garden project alone. In the US last year, 444 lawyers were involved in pro bono projects. In total, the firm recorded approximately 18,500 hours at an average of 42 hours per lawyer.

Mark Saunders is the partner responsible for pro bono in London, while associate Alexander Schmidt is the pro bono coordinator.The Lawyer verdictUS firms typically take pro bono more seriously than their UK counterparts, and Dewey in no exception. As a New York-based outfit, its lawyers felt the impact of 11 September directly. The firm’s burgeoning London office is to be commended for making efforts to match the US end and so display a common ethos across the firm.