Dorsey & Whitney Pro Bono Heroes, Amanda Prentice and Nick Ackerman

The Federal Pro Se Legal Assistance Project found Pro Bono Heroes in Amanda Prentice and Nick Ackerman from Dorsey & Whitney LLP.  Amanda, a fifth-year associate, under the supervision of partner Nick, represented a litigant suing a home improvement store for racial discrimination.  After purchasing items from the store, the client – a Black man – was accused of stealing by a white security guard.  Even after showing a receipt, the client was arrested and incarcerated for two days.

When Amanda and Nick volunteered to help, the case was on the eve of trial. Amanda and Nick were able to reopen discovery in the case and negotiate a satisfactory settlement.  Amanda said, “The case was settled on mutually agreeable terms for both sides – the client was pleased and we believe it was a fair result for both sides.”

Amanda thoroughly enjoyed her experience working with the client (She said, “He has quite the sense of humor”) and providing free representation. “The most rewarding part for me,” Amanda explained, “was to work with a client who appreciated the work we did for him.”

The client commended the team from Dorsey and Whitney saying, “They were very understanding, and they took their time with me.” He especially appreciated having experienced lawyers support him, after he had struggled to navigate the ins and outs of federal civil procedure alone.

Doing pro bono work not only offers lawyers a chance to volunteer their time to advance justice; it also provides a platform for professional growth.  Amanda said, “It was personally rewarding because I got to take a party opponent deposition, which helped me practice my litigation skills.  I also gained valuable experience in settlement negotiations.”

Amanda expressed gratitude for the opportunity to help a client in need. She “learned a lot” and “will continue to do pro bono work – not just to advance [her] own skills as a litigator, but to feel like [she is] helping advance justice.” The work of pro bono lawyers is vital to promoting equity in the justice system and representing underserved communities. This was a great win for a client who was previously unrepresented and struggling to navigate the federal court system.

The Federal Pro Se Legal Assistance Project seeks to match as many clients as possible with pro bono counsel, as navigating the federal court system pro se can be very challenging.  If you are interested in taking pro bono cases, please contact the Project at 212-382-4729.