For Patrick M. Arenz, being chair of the pro bono committee at Robins Kaplan is “really the best part of my job.”
“I’m often the first one to hear about a good result or the good news that my colleagues are obtaining. This is meaningful work that changes people’s lives,” says Arenz, who has been the committee chair since 2015. He is a partner at the firm.
A meaningful example was his pro bono work winning an unprecedented $950,000 jury verdict last year for a 14-year-old victim in a sex tourism case who was raped by a U.S. citizen in Laos.
“The idea of ensuring access to justice for those who can’t afford a lawyer has always been a core part of our firm. We’re going to be celebrating our 80th anniversary later this year; it’s always been an important part of who we are,” says Arenz.
In 2016, The American Lawyer magazine ranked Robins Kaplan fourth in the nation for pro bono work and this year ranked it 16th. Arenz says that about 7 percent of the firm’s billable hours per year are pro bono.
Besides being pro bono chair, Arenz routinely takes on David and Goliath cases. Recently La-Z-Boy agreed to a settlement of $13.5 million in a dispute over royalties with Arenz’s client, Megdal Associates, a small inventor of automatic recliner footrest technology that La-Z-Boy uses.
Next, Arenz will take on Disney and Pixar in a recently filed lawsuit alleging they misappropriated concepts for the movie “Inside Out” from child development expert Denise Daniels, who says she pitched the ideas and characters to the companies.