Editor's note: Read about Rodrigo Bermudez, who participated in MoFo’s 2023 Summer Associate Program in our Boston office, in this installment of our MoFo Stories series.
As a first-generation immigrant from Colombia, I am passionate about uplifting my community and being present and active in communities that could use a hand. So naturally a firm’s pro bono practice was a major consideration as I searched for my professional home. And I am fortunate to have landed at MoFo, a firm whose commitment to pro bono I’ve now experienced firsthand.
While at MoFo, I have been able to work on a broad range of pro bono matters. On my first pro bono case, I worked on a small team—comprised of a partner, an associate, and myself—trying to help a terminally ill veteran access the benefits of his life insurance policy. He had applied for life insurance and was tentatively approved, pending a copy of his medical records to be sent by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). But the VA took an unreasonably long time to send the records, and by the time they sent them, he had been diagnosed with cancer from his exposure to burn pits while in the Middle East. The insurance company promptly rescinded its approval—along with critical financial assistance to him and his family. As a veteran myself, I found it inspiring to see how much the MoFo lawyers cared and how they prioritized the case in their already busy schedules.
I also had the opportunity to work with the Elder Law Project, an initiative through the Boston Women’s Bar Foundation that helps educate and prepare end-of-life documents for low-income seniors. We were assigned a Spanish-speaking client who needed help preparing a power of attorney and healthcare proxy. The supervising attorney let another summer associate and me take the lead. We communicated directly with the client, did the initial intake in Spanish, and followed up with an engagement letter. After that, our supervisor even encouraged us to start drafting the documents. It was a rewarding experience and a wonderful way to learn about a new area of the law.
Another pro bono project I helped with consisted of researching important questions for nonprofit organizations. For FreeFrom, an organization focused on providing information and resources to victims of domestic violence, I researched the nuances of receiving funding under the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) in several different states. That information will be entered into FreeFrom’s Compensation Compass, a comprehensive online resource providing survivors of intimate partner and gender-based violence with information necessary to pursue financial compensation for the harm they have been subjected to. For the second organization, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, I researched state laws to help identify common sense gun regulations that the organization hopes to champion as a way to decrease gun violence.
I was proud to see that MoFo is serious about pro bono work. Through my pro bono assignments, I was able to develop useful legal skills while doing meaningful and impactful work. And I hope to continue that work when I return to the firm.