Finnegan’s veterans assistance program continues to grow


Paul Browning of District-based law firm Finnegan. (Jeffrey MacMillan/For Capital Business)
December 22, 2013

There are not many things that copyright law and veterans’ benefits have in common — but Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner is one of them.

Washington-based Finnegan is one the world’s largest law firms specializing in intellectual property law, but it is also known for a pro bono program that offers veterans legal help when seeking disability benefits after leaving the military.

The program began in 2008, and is believed to be the biggest one of its kind at a major U.S. law firm. Finnegan attorneys represent veterans who were denied benefits — or awarded benefits at a level they believed was too low — before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims in Washington. The firm wins those cases 90 percent of the time, and the attorney fees that would normally go to the firm get donated to charities that aid veterans, including Fisher House Foundation and Disabled American Veterans.

Since the program began in 2008, the firm has worked with more than 640 veterans to appeal denial of benefits. By the end of 2013, the firm will have donated about $2 million to charities, said Paul Browning, a partner and chair of the firm’s pro bono committee.

Work with veterans represents about 60 percent of the firm’s overall pro bono work; Finnegan attorneys and staff also do pro bono work in criminal law, family law, asylum cases and landlord and tenant law.

Catherine Ho covers law and lobbying for the Capital Business section of The Washington Post. She previously worked at the LA Daily Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Detroit Free Press, the Wichita Eagle and the San Mateo County Times.
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