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About Us | Pro Bono

Focused. Dedicated. Committed.

Rothwell Figg encourages its lawyers to give back to the community in cases that address matters of significant societal importance and by representing those who cannot afford legal representation.  Some of our recent pro bono cases include representing:

  • The Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition (BACC), which is seeking to stop the desecration of the Moses African Cemetery and to preserve the rich history of the once thriving local African community, in a fight to halt construction on the sacred ground in Bethesda, Maryland. The Cemetery is a burial ground for formerly enslaved Africans dating back to the 18th century, but within the past few years, land under which the cemetery sits was approved for a multi-story, self-storage facility. The BACC, which was started by the Macedonia Baptist Church and is make up of volunteers, activists, community groups, and faith-based organizations, would like to see the land returned to the church, the former owner of the cemetery, and the consecration of the cemetery with a memorial and museum;

  • Agudas Chasidei Chabad of United States (“Chabad”), a worldwide Jewish organization established 250 years ago in eastern Russia. During the upheavals of the 20th century, Chabad’s library and archives were confiscated by the Soviets and the Nazis, and since the end of World War II, have been held by the Soviet and now Russian governments. Following a decades-long effort to secure the return of its religious and historical heritage, Chabad sued Russia in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The DC Circuit ruled in Chabad’s favor on the merits, and the District Court entered an order directing the return of the library and archives to Chabad in the United States. We entered the case to obtain relief on the judgment, a matter complicated by the U.S. government’s submissions to the court opposing Chabad’s efforts. We have overcome those objections, however, and the Court has entered an order holding Russia in contempt. Currently, the accrued sanctions amount to over $90,000,000, over $43,000,000 of which has been reduced to a monetary judgment. This matter has come to the attention of the highest officials in the U.S. and Russian governments, has been followed by the press in both countries, and is one area in which politicians of all political stripe can agree: earlier this year, all 100 United States Senators signed a letter to Russian President Putin calling for the return of Chabad’s library and archives;

  • Prominent journalist and author Kurt Eichenwald in a civil suit against John Rivello in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division. The lawsuit arises primarily from events that took place on December 15, 2016, when Mr. Rivello sent to Mr. Eichenwald an electronic message over Twitter (a “tweet”) that contained an animated strobe image flashing at a rapid speed and the statement “YOU DESERVE A SEIZURE FOR YOUR POSTS.” Such strobe images are known to trigger seizures in people with epilepsy, and as a proximate result of Mr. Rivello’s actions, Mr. Eichenwald did in fact suffer a seizure and other substantial harm upon receipt of Mr. Rivello’s tweet at his home in Dallas, Texas. The complaint alleges that, at the time Mr. Rivello sent Mr. Eichenwald the tweet, he knew that Mr. Eichenwald had epilepsy, knew that a strobe image flashing at rapid speed was likely to cause Mr. Eichenwald to have a severe seizure, and intended to cause precisely that result. The civil action follows the arrest of Mr. Rivello at his home in Maryland on March 17, 2017, on a warrant issued by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Mr. Rivello was also indicted by a Dallas County grand jury for the offense of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on March 20, 2017. In September 2020, we prevailed in the case. Judgment was entered for Mr. Eichenwald on all claims and he was awarded $100,000;

  • Naomi Touvian in a civil suit against District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Ms. Touvian is an observant Jew who, upon being hired to work as a Speech Language Pathologist in DCPS, submitted a request for reasonable accommodation for her religious observances, such as requesting days off for Jewish holidays in which she is prohibited from working. In response, Ms. Touvian’s immediate supervisor disciplined and retaliated against her for making the request. Ms. Touvian then went to DCPS to discuss her supervisor’s actions, but instead of resolving the situation, DCPS continued to retaliate against Ms. Touvian;

  • Flare Jewelry, a start-up company founded by two Harvard Business School graduates, which is focused on developing smart jewelry and an app/network to empower women in their daily lives and ward against sexual assault. The network aims to provide an escape route for any social scenario, ranging from an uncomfortable situation or a bad date to a full-blown emergency. We are assisting co-founders Sara de Zarraga and Quinn Fitzgerald, in their development of a comprehensive IP portfolio for Flare Jewelry, including utility and design patent applications, as well as trademark and copyright registrations. Through our IP strategies and monitoring of the competitive landscape, we are helping Flare to attract investors and are arming Flare Jewelry with the necessary protection for the start-up’s growth and success;

  • The organization Restoring Our Places: Jewish Life and Sites and the Pale of Settlement (“Restoring Our Places”) in the establishment of a Washington, D.C. nonprofit corporation and 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity. Following the Holocaust in Ukraine and the discovery of numerous unmarked mass gravesites of Jews, there remains a need to honor those who were murdered with proper burials and to memorialize these historic sites. Restoring Our Places has a mission to work with local organizations in Ukraine to provide creative solutions and architectural designs for memorials and educational resources for remembering and rebuilding Jewish life and culture;

  • An employee of the Office of Naval Intelligence in obtaining a reversal of the revocation of a security clearance because, inter alia, he had spent a summer in Israel while in college; and

  • Veterans before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in appeals challenging the denial of their veterans’ benefit.