Advocating for clients on some of the most difficult and long-lasting pro bono cases, while also taking the time to mentor more junior lawyers on important pro bono matters, is what makes New York Litigation associate Adam Hunt a true pro bono superstar. Since joining the firm in 2009, Adam has clocked thousands of hours of his time in pro bono matters — all in the spirit of making a positive difference in the lives of his clients.
According to Jennifer Brown, MoFo Pro Bono senior counsel, Adam’s “dedication to serving a wide spectrum of vulnerable individuals across a number of challenging pro bono matters” is what makes him a deserving recipient of the 2018 Kathi Pugh Award for pro bono service.
Adam’s pro bono contributions come in many forms and have had a lasting impact on many since he joined the firm in 2009. Take, for example, his tireless work over the last seven years for MoFo’s client, a refugee from the Republic of Congo, who endured extreme brutality at the hands of a Congolese regime — including the murder of his uncle, as well as severe persecution and torture — just because his uncle, a prominent member of an opposing political party, was critical of the Congolese regime in a news article.
Thanks to Adam’s persistence on the case, as well as help from other members of MoFo’s pro bono team, the client was granted asylum. But, Adam’s commitment didn’t end there. He then began a years-long effort to allow his client’s four children — nieces and nephews our client had adopted after his brother’s death — to join him in the United States. While ultimately unable to secure their asylum, Adam’s commitment to his client and the children he left behind in the Congo were so remarkable that Human Rights First recognized him as a “Pro Bono Star” for this work.
This is just one example of how Adam continues to pay it forward by contributing his time to pro bono. Adam has contributed nearly 1,000 hours serving as lead attorney in ongoing litigation, begun in 2010, aimed at increasing the support New York State provides to children in foster care through the stipends paid to foster parents.
In another long-haul case, Adam has, since 2013, been integral to a team working with the New York Civil Liberties Union to reform solitary confinement in state prisons. First filed as a pro se prisoner’s complaint, the case became the vehicle for more than two years of negotiations with top officials from the governor’s office and the state corrections department that eventually resulted in a class action settlement that today:
- Restricts the use of solitary confinement and shortens time spent there;
- Creates new rehabilitative and step-down programs;
- Provides programming to reduce idleness and isolation; and
- Improves conditions
Adam also dedicated hundreds of pro bono hours to a case that ended the New York City Police Department’s extremely broad Muslim surveillance program, subjecting Muslims to unwarranted government surveillance. Thanks to Adam’s ongoing work on the case, the reforms negotiated to end the case are now being implemented, ensuring that religion will not be the basis for investigations that corrode community trust.
Adam’s contributions have also been recognized outside of the firm. In 2017, he was awarded the New York State Bar Association President’s Pro Bono Service Award for the over 2000 hours of pro bono service that he has contributed in his time at the firm.
“When looking at Adam’s contributions on all of these important pro bono matters, and his tenacity to see them through,” said Jennifer, “we couldn’t think of anyone more deserving of the Kathi Pugh Award. Congratulations, Adam, on a job well done!”
As the winner of the Kathi Pugh Award, Adam was given the opportunity to direct a $10,000 donation to a nonprofit organization that enhances access to justice. He has directed the contribution, which will be funded jointly by the Firm and The Morrison & Foerster Foundation, to be split between the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and the Education Law Center (ELC) in Newark, New Jersey. Adam worked for the ELC after college before beginning law school and worked for the NYCLU during law school and while at MoFo.
This is the fifth annual Kathi Pugh Award. San Francisco senior counsel Ruth Borenstein, San Francisco partner Alfredo Silva, Washington, D.C. partner Natalie Fleming Nolen, and San Diego associate Christian Andreu-von Euw were the firm’s prior honorees.
The Kathi Pugh Award was established by Morrison & Foerster in 2013 when Kathi Pugh retired after two decades of running the firm’s pro bono program. It recognizes the values, enthusiasm, and compassion that Ms. Pugh brought to the pro bono program and celebrates the remarkable ways that lawyers like Adam Hunt proudly carry out Kathi’s pro bono legacy.
MoFo associate Adam Hunt (left) pictured with MoFo partner Ruti Smithline (center) and MoFo senior counsel Jennifer Brown (right) during MoFo’s Pro Bono Week Awards celebration.