Biglaw, Dewey & LeBoeuf, Disasters / Emergencies, Pro Bono, Public Interest

Biglaw Firms Poised To Help Japanese Relief Efforts

After the Haitian earthquake last year, we saw law firms step up in a big way to support relief efforts down there. Hopefully we will see the same reaction to the ever-increasing tragedy unfolding in Japan. Given an 8.9 a 9.0-magnitude earthquake, a massive tsunami, and a nuclear disaster that is already the second-worst nuclear accident in history, you hope that Japan will get all the help that the world can provide.

If anything, the nuclear meltdown angle is obscuring the humanitarian crisis currently happening in Japan. We know that Americans can’t focus on something unless there is some tangential relationship to something bad that could happen here, but you’d think that the possibility of 10,000 deaths would be enough to trigger our humanitarian concern without obsessing about apocalyptic scenarios.

Thankfully, a couple of law firms aren’t waiting for Japan to start glowing before making efforts to help…

Yesterday, McGuireWoods told its people that it would be matching any giving McGuireWoods employees decided to make. From a firm spokesperson:

The firm is matching, dollar for dollar up to $50,000, every donation from an attorney or employee given toward relief efforts. The firm will donate its portion to the Red Cross, but attorneys and employees don’t necessarily have to donate to the Red Cross… The firm will match any donation given to any Japanese quake/Tsunami relief organization.

That’s a great job by McGuireWoods.

Matching contributions is one way for a large organization to make charitable donations. The other logical way to go about it is the approach that Dewey & LeBoeuf is taking:

To: DL Global Personnel

During this time of crisis in Japan, the firm wishes to extend our thoughts and support to the victims of Friday’s earthquake and its aftermath.

To help those in need, the firm is making a donation of $100,000 to the Japanese Red Cross Society.

If you are also interested in making a personal contribution, please send a check (made payable to the Japanese Red Cross Society) to [Redacted] in the New York office (for lawyers and staff in our US offices) and [Redacted] in the London office (for lawyers and staff in our international offices). Please make all donations by next Friday, March 25.

Thank you in advance for your contributions.

Steven H. Davis

It’s wonderful when people in a position to help do what they can.

We’re sure other law firms will want to follow the examples of McGuireWoods and Dewey & LeBoeuf. If you have information about what your law firm is doing to help Japan recover from this natural disaster, please send an email to (subject line: “Japan relief efforts”). We’ll do a follow up post later in the week about all the good work Biglaw firms are doing.

UPDATE (10:30 AM): Add Weil Gotshal to the list of firms that have already taken steps to help Japan in its hour of need. The memo reprinted below went out yesterday to the entire firm.

From: Richard Davis On Behalf Of Philanthropic Committee
Sent: Monday, March 14, 2011 3:36 PM
To: All WGM Attorneys; All WGM Of Counsel; WGM Administrative Staff
Subject: Japan Relief

It is hard to put into words what has occurred in Northern Japan in recent days. We can help by contributing towards the relief effort that is well underway. In order to start things off the Firm will immediately make a combined charitable contribution of $200,000 to The Japan Society Relief Fund (they have partnered with several Japanese and American non-profits over the years working on the frontlines of disaster relief and recovery. 100% of these contributions will go to organization(s) that directly help victims recover from the devastating effects of the earthquake and tsunamis that struck Japan) and the American Red Cross. Individual partners have also pledged significant support to these organizations and others.

If any of you would like to contribute to one of these organizations you can send your check to [Redacted] (Room 2301) and he will make sure it gets to the right place. If you choose to contribute online or directly to these or to another similar organization please let Kirk know so that we can keep track of total firm-wide individual contributions. For those of you in non-U.S. jurisdictions, contributions to similar organizations in those jurisdictions providing self relief can also be considered. To the extent total individual contributions exceed $200,000 the Firm will match up to another $200,000.

Your support is much appreciated.

Richard J. Davis
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
767 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10153

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