Public service is an integral part of Keller and Heckman and is fostered by the firm’s pro bono program which provides all team members an opportunity to strengthen their communities, as well as gain valuable experience.
Keller and Heckman's strong tradition of public service is highlighted by the firm's commitment to its pro bono program. Both our attorneys and professional staff view pro bono work as an opportunity to strengthen their communities, gain valuable experience, and enhance their professionalism. We provide pro bono services to support a range of charitable, religious, civic, community, government, and educational organizations, including schools, religious institutions, small business incubators, and scientific research organizations.
Our pro bono program strives to improve the quality of life for those at an economic disadvantage through partnerships with public interest organizations in the DC area. For example, members of the firm regularly help staff the District of Columbia Bar’s Pro Bono Program Advice and Referral Clinic. Each quarter our attorneys and professional staff, provide legal consultations and referrals to residents of Washington's Anacostia neighborhood.
We also assist clients referred to us by the American Association of Retired Persons’ Legal Counsel for the Elderly (LCE). LCE provides free legal services and advocacy for Washington, DC residents, age 60 and older. In particular, our attorneys assist LCE clients with wills and other life planning documents, as well as representation in debt collection matters. Keller and Heckman supports the mission of LCE more broadly with programmatic research to inform and support LCE advocacy.
Keller and Heckman's pro bono program involves work on a diverse range of matters. Our pro bono achievements and activities include:
- Keller and Heckman attorneys volunteer their time at Catholic Charities Legal Network (CCLN), and regularly conduct in-person client intake at the Legal Network. Services include a brief interview with prospective clients of CCLN, to determine the scope and extent of potential legal issues. Based on this interview, CCLN then locates an appropriate legal representative to assist clients with their cases. Click here to read more.
- At the invitation of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Keller and Heckman attorneys successfully represented an inmate against the state correctional institution at which he was incarcerated to obtain damages for personal injuries that he had suffered due to the denial of necessary medical care. The litigation was resolved by a settlement that included both monetary and injunctive relief.
- Keller and Heckman attorneys are assisting The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) in its efforts to obtain necessary Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory clearances necessary to restore the tree throughout its natural range. The American chestnut tree was once the predominant tree of eastern forests in the US., but it has been functionally extinct since the 1950s due to the inadvertent introduction of a foreign fungus. The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) and its partners have developed a blight tolerant American chestnut through traditional breeding and the introduction of a single wheat gene into the American chestnut genome. Click here to read more.
- Keller and Heckman attorneys successfully assisted a Ugandan refugee in obtaining asylum in the United States after suffering political persecution in her home country. Keller and Heckman attorneys represented the refugee before the Executive Office of Immigration Review, Immigration Court in Baltimore, Maryland. The refugee petitioned for political asylum after physical violence and threats from the Ugandan government. The case was referred from Human Rights First, a non-profit international human rights organization.
- Keller and Heckman attorneys assisted a mother and her 17-year old son in obtaining political asylum in the United States as victims of gang violence in their home country of El Salvador. Keller and Heckman represented the two before the Executive Office of Immigration Review, Immigration Court in Baltimore, Maryland. The mother and son were claiming political asylum based on a prolonged period in which they faced physical violence and threats of death at the hands of the notorious, internationally known criminal enterprise, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) in their homeland of El Salvador. Click here to read more.
- Keller and Heckman provided pro bono representation to an Irish Midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy who sought United States citizenship. When the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) refused to act on the citizenship application, the firm filed suit on his behalf against USCIS in federal court in Baltimore. Since citizenship is a prerequisite to obtaining a commission upon graduation from the Naval Academy and, at the time, the client was only two months away from graduating, our attorneys were able to have the matter expedited. Keller and Heckman successfully prosecuted the case and the client was sworn-in as a U.S. citizen by the federal judge who decided the case. The client is currently serving our country as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. President Barack Obama spoke at the graduation and personally congratulated the client on becoming a U.S. citizen.
- Keller and Heckman attorneys successfully represented a Vietnam veteran in his appeal of the denial of his application for disability benefits by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on the grounds that his vision loss was not service related. Keller and Heckman appealed that finding before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Based on the strength of our brief, the Department of Veterans Affairs agreed to a remand of the matter to the Board of Veterans' Appeals for further medical review and reconsideration–a win for our client.
- Keller and Heckman successfully completed a nearly two-year representation of a pro bono client who had been facing a pending foreclosure of her home. Click here to read more.
- A team of five Keller and Heckman attorneys represented a prisoner in a lawsuit alleging the state correctional facility provided inadequate medical care for a variety of health conditions. The firm obtained a favorable settlement for its client.