What Pro Bono work has your firm been involved with?
Minneapolis mass tort and complex litigation attorney Carolyn Anderson reflects on Zimmerman Reed’s Pro Bono efforts.
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Well, I think we all try to stay involved in pro bono cases at all times, so there is ongoing efforts. I think one of the recent cases that I got involved in that has been very meaningful was around the Petters Ponzi scheme. I think it was a very large Ponzi scheme, I think the Madoff was occurring near that time as well, but Petters was a very large Ponzi scheme. And one of the issues was that in that Ponzi scheme there was a targeting of a lot of the not-for-profit and faith communities, and so right after the news hit over that weekend we started getting calls from a number of different people who were in faith organizations or nonprofits saying, oh my gosh, what has happened, what can we do.
And one of the things we realized, we had a partnership meeting and we realized one of the things we know, there’s not gonna be much money, if anything, at the end of this, and these people, especially this group, they were decimated, they lost everything financially, many of them lost their homes. They were not gonna be able to afford lawyers. And we just said this happened in our backyard, this is our community and we’re gonna reach out and just tell them we’re gonna represent you without a cost. And it’s been very rewarding; it’s been very sobering to watch the unraveling of a Ponzi scheme and to see the real-life consequences of that kind of greed or just whatever drives that kind of decision.
But I think within that case, one of the things that’s been very interesting that I never thought I’d face when I went to law school was there was one of the brokers who sold some of these investments to our clients and he was willing to give all of his assets over. And one of the things we had to do is we had to go with the DOJ, Department of Justice, and go to the court and say can we share this with some of our folks, and there were objectors there and everything, but we were able to get that portion taken just for the people that were from this faith community. We had to get Brinks trucks and get everything from the FBI over here and –. So it was a wonderful process. But it’s been a very rewarding process even despite walking through this very difficult time with some wonderful people.