Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman is committed to providing pro bono legal work and public service. We believe that our pro bono efforts make our attorneys better lawyers and better people. Our extensive history of providing pro bono services is a reflection of who we are and what we aspire to be.
Our pro bono work includes charitable and community service on behalf of trade and bar associations, human rights groups, and educational causes. We have also handled matters involving professional organizations within the legal community, such as The American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) and the New York City Bar Association.
Pro Bono Victories
Two of our attorneys, with guidance and advice from Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), represented a pro bono Spanish-speaking immigrant minor in Brooklyn Family Court, and they obtained favorable findings which allowed us to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a possible path to the client’s permanent residency. The many twists and turns included the unexpected cross-examination of a surprise adverse witness, whose testimony was found not to be credible.
We handle significant pro bono cases. For example, thanks to the efforts of several of our attorneys, the U.S. Immigration Service recognized the marriage of our client to her gay partner. This cleared the way for our client to apply for her visa as a lawful permanent resident and to avoid deportation to a country where she would surely have been persecuted.
We represented a Navy nurse on charges arising out of his refusal to force-feed hunger-striking prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Along the way, we were able to fend off criminal charges, an effort to dismiss him from the service, and an effort to revoke his security clearance. The nurse has now retired with an honorable discharge. We were aided by the support of dedicated people at Physicians for Human Rights and the American Nurses Association, which awarded the nurse its first-ever Year of Ethics award.
One of our attorneys was trial counsel in the Eastern District of New York, with attorneys from the South Brooklyn Legal Services, in obtaining a jury award of more than $1 million in damages in favor of eight individuals who had been the victims of a fraudulent scheme that preyed on first-time home buyers by luring them into buying dilapidated houses at exorbitant prices with unaffordable mortgages.
That same attorney, together with local counsel, succeeded in having the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals vacate a South Carolina murder conviction and thereby free a death row inmate after 20 years. Another one of our attorneys, acting on behalf of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the ACLU, and the New York City Bar Association, argued the successful appeal challenging the constitutionality of the military death penalty.
Pro Bono Awards
The firm, as well as individual attorneys, have won various awards for their pro bono representation. For example, the 2007 Beacon of Justice Award was presented to our firm by the National Legal Aid & Defender Association in recognition of the pro bono representation we provided in support of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. One of our attorneys was selected as the 2011 Pro Bono Leader by Legal Services NYC for his pro bono participation in the successful trial of a civil rights and housing fraud action on behalf of indigent individuals. Two of our attorneys have acted as counsel to inmates on death row in South Carolina and Texas and have received the Thurgood Marshall Award of the New York City Bar Association for the pro bono representation of an individual sentenced to death. One of our attorneys was selected by the Sanctuary for Families to receive the 2023 Above & Beyond Pro Bono Achievement Award for assisting a survivor of domestic violence in obtaining an order of protection against her husband.
Many of our attorneys also serve on boards and act as advisors to non-profit entities and public interest organizations, such as Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, UJA-Federation of New York and the National Institute of Military Justice.
We draw upon our expertise in intellectual property law to assist a variety of intellectual property-focused non-profits, trade, and bar associations and government agencies in the U.S. and throughout the world. Members of our firm have prepared and filed amicus briefs in almost every federal circuit, as well as in the U.S. Supreme Court, on a broad range of intellectual property issues. Notably, we prepared and filed two amicus briefs for the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the AIPLA, supporting the constitutionality of the Copyright Term Extension Act in Eldred v. Ashcroft and supporting the broad protectibility of computer software under the Copyright Act in Lotus v. Borland. We also prepared an amicus brief for the Copyright and Literary Property Committee of the New York City Bar Association filed in the Seventh Circuit in Liu v. Pricewaterhouse regarding the application of the work-made-for-hire doctrine. Outside of the intellectual property sphere, our attorneys have submitted amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court on several military justice issues in the cases of Rasul v. Bush, United States v. Denedo, and Boumediene v. Bush.
Assisting Developing Countries
A senior partner at our firm has advised the country of Malawi, through the International Senior Lawyers Project, on the modernization of Malawi's intellectual property laws.
Teaching the Next Generation
Our attorneys are also dedicated to teaching the next generation of students and lawyers and inspiring them to perform community service. In addition to the presentations we make in numerous forums, we teach courses at various law schools, including Columbia University, Cornell University, and New York University law schools. We have also participated in educational forums, taught courses, and served as mock trial judges at Yale Law School, the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Fordham University School of Law, NYU School of Law, and Seton Hall University School of Law, among others.
Fashion Law Institute
We have hosted several Pop-Up Clinics for the Fashion Law Institute. Our attorneys provide pro bono legal counsel to start-up companies and designers in 45-minute sessions attended by Fordham Law Students in addition to the clients.
Public Service and Leadership Positions
Through the years, our attorneys have volunteered their time and expertise serving in leadership positions in bar associations and in their communities. Many of our attorneys have served as presidents and directors of trade associations and bar associations, and led committees and law review commissions. We have served in leadership positions at the Copyright Society, American Intellectual Property Association, International Trademark Association, NY Intellectual Property Law Association, American Bar Association, NY City Bar Association, and customs and trade organizations, among others. In something of a firm-wide tradition, numerous attorneys have also served as school board members, town judges, trustees, mayors and commissioners, giving back to our communities and applying our legal and business skills to the public good.