Holland & Hart lawyers meet the dictionary definition of heroes: “A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed ” They are in good company. Allow me to excerpt my earlier post on another legal hero, second US President John Adams: “Mr. Adams added honor to the profession by taking on the most extremely unpopular trial of his time – defending British soldiers in the Boston Massacre in the Fall of 1770.” I do not think I need to tell you that President Adams would do precisely what Holland & Hart is doing and would say so in no uncertain terms. I hope this President Adams story will encourage Holland & Hart as it faces those who would criticize their initiative. (My full post Law’s Heroes) The U.S. Supreme Court made a ruling that suggests that detainees at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay have certain rights. The easy thing to do would be to look the other way or let someone else worry about such things. After all, there are many who will not be sensitive to the fact that love of country and constitutions means complying with the judgments of the US Supreme Court, not disobeying them. (If you require authority for this proposition, see this commentary on the case of Rasul v. Bush.) Anne Castle, former Holland and Hart Chairman, and Water Law specialist, sought volunteers for a pro bono initiative throughout the 12 offices of the 300+ lawyer firm sprawling over six states. I don’t know how her invitation read, but this initiative clearly has absolutely nothing to do with the innocence or guilt of the prisoners. It has everything to do with ensuring they have the benefit of due process because the US Supreme Court decided they were entitled. Anne’s request for volunteers was itself a heroic act. According to Holland and Hart Lawyer, J. Triplett “Trip” Mackintosh, the objective for volunteering is “ seeing that the application of these laws is done fairly and in a non-discriminatory fashion”. Tripp is one of the team leaders and an interview subject for the press on this issue. His specialties include the firm’s newly featured Space Law practice group. What a delicious offer (seeking volunteers): sign up for the most politically sensitive matter in present history and get ready for the hate mail and anti-American accusations. Risk your relationships with existing and prospective clients have the courage to risk like John Adams did. Many less courageous lawyers would sit silently. Not at Holland & Hart. The firm has exhibited a unique spirit over many years winning awards for client service and paying tribute to its own senior people at its retreats. This firm has a soul. Not one or two but thirty-three wonderful lawyers at Holland & Hart volunteered to do the right thing. According to Holland & Hart marketing director, Mark Beese, the volunteers came from across the political spectrum (“red and blue”) and across most of the firm’s offices, including a former JAG counsel. So this was not at all political it was about preserving constitutional rights in accordance with the ruling of the highest court in the USA. The entire firm supports this new initiative and that makes every single member of the firm a hero in my book. They share the risk of negative feedback they are already receiving from some. They also underwrite the financial cost of the pro bono effort as well as sacrifice potential lost revenue from legal work that may not come or clients who might leave. But, undaunted and courageous, like John Adams, these 33 volunteers in five teams press on through this most difficult process. Background: Some readers may not be familiar with the term “Habeas Corpus” which, in essence, is the proceeding that can be brought before a court if someone is imprisoned without being charged in order to force the authorities either to show why the imprisonment is warranted or to release that prisoner. If you want a more formal definition, look at Habeas Corpus The Most Extraordinary Writ, by: Joseph Dale Robertson. (Incidentally, Robertson confirms that: “The history of Habeas Corpus is ancient. It appears to be predominately of Anglo-Saxon common law origin. Clearly, it precedes Magna Carta in 1215”.) Fast Forward: Those amazing lawyers at Holland & Hart are not alone – there are other good firms who have stepped up to bat what is important here is that so many have not for the simple reason that standing up for this task comes at a price. It could annoy clients both existing and prospective. It would not exactly ingratiate you with members of the current Federal Government. This could and probably will cost. And, that is why I am so proud to call these 33 lawyers at Holland & Hart (and the firm for supporting their efforts) “HEROES”. They are not sacrificing for the freedom of Guantanamo inmates – but by ensuring the ruling of the Supreme Court is carried out fairly and without discrimination, Holland & Hart is protecting the Rule of Law and the freedom of all who are protected by such laws including most who are reading this. Punchline: When you are next chatting with a Holland and Hart lawyer, balance the hate mail with a heart-felt “thank you”. And next time you hear someone make a snide remark about the greed or bad conduct or even image of lawyers, ask them to take a moment and thank their stars that there are lawyers like those at Holland & Hart around. Acknowledgement: Thanks to Stephanie Ann West who alerted me to a the source story in the Rocky Mountain News today: Law firm assists five held in Cuba. Much appreciated.