STATE OF MARKET 1.800.973.1177PAGE 1Most major law firms trumpet their com-mitment to pro bono work, but the Holland& Knight national firm has literally put itsmoney where its mouth is. Participants in thefirm’s Chesterfield Smith Fellowship Pro-gram do nothing but pro bono work for theirfirst two years with the firm - but receive fullsalary and partnership track credit for theentire time.Holland & Knight, a 1,200-attorney firm, hashad a Community Service Team program forpro bono work since 1990. In 1999, the firmconceived the idea of the Smith Fellowships,named for former firm president Chester-field Smith. Selected law students spend thesummer following their second year with thefirm - half of the summer working with publicinterest advocacy groups and half doing bill-able work for the firm. Those who performas expected are invited to join the firm asfull-fledged Smith Fellows after graduation- unless they are chosen for a federal clerk-ship - and spend the next two years workingstrictly on pro bono cases.The first class of Smith Fellows consistsof five first year associates and three whowill join the firm upon graduation from lawschool or, in several cases, completionof federal clerkships. And what a class itis - one Rhodes Scholar, one former U.S.Supreme Court law clerk, and all eight aregraduates of Harvard, Yale, NYU or George-town law schools. Gretchen Rohr, the RhodesScholar in the group, worked with the NAACPLegal Defense Fund in New York after gradu-ating from Oxford University’s School ofJurisprudence and completing her first yearat Georgetown Law School. While there, sheworked with Laura Fernandez, a graduate ofHarvard University, a 2002 Yale Law Schoolgrad, and one of Holland & Knight’s firstSmith Fellowship recipients.“An attorney working with us told me Laurahad a great fellowship, but hadn’t told any-one about it,” Rohr said. When Fernandeztold her the details, Rohr wasted no timecalling Stephen Hanlon, the firm’s Commu-nity Services Team director, in the Washing-ton, D.C. office, to apply. After spending thesummer of 2002 in the firm’s Atlanta officeworking primarily on capital punishmentcases with the Southern Center for HumanRights, Rohr returned to the Atlanta office tobegin her two-year Smith Fellowship as anH&K associate after graduation and the Barexam this summer.The program represents a significant finan-cial commitment on the firm’s behalf. Hanlondid not put an exact dollar figure on it, butsince all Smith Fellows earn a full associ-ate salary, the outlay figures to be over $2million for the eight two-year fellowships insalary, not to mention support service costs.On the other hand, the program has rewardsfor the firm over and above the satisfaction ofproviding pro bono service to under-servedclients. First and foremost, it has openedup new recruiting channels for some of thecountry’s top student talent.“We have not always been a national firm,”Hanlon said. “We are now, although we’resort of the new kid on the block, and this isour way of introducing ourselves. We’re nowable to attract students from the top of theclass at Harvard, Yale and NYU, and for thefirst time we recruited directly from the U.S.Supreme Court.”Holland & Knight has traditionally beenamong the nation’s leaders in pro bonoservice commitment, at 50 hours per lawyerper year, or 60,000 hours firm-wide. Told ofthe H&K program, Equal Justice Works (for-merly NAPIL) head David Stern said, “That’sabsolutely typical of Holland & Knight.” LynnSchultz-Writsel, the organization’s com-munications director, said, “That’s not onlyfinancial, but a significant investment in kindon their part. We certainly applaud that com-mitment.”Although the full salary allows studentsto pursue their pro bono interests withoutworrying about how they will repay lawschool loans, Rohr says there is more to theprogram’s allure.“I really don’t think any of us are in it be-cause this is great pay,” Rohr said. “H&Kspends a lot of time ensuring that the peoplein the program are really devoted to the mis-sion of the program.”This story appeared in the January 2003edition of The National Jurist, www.nation-aljurist.com.Firm offers full time pro bono, full pay[by Jim Dunlap]Holland & Knight community service fellowships lure top talent.