Pro Bono Counsel
Rene Kathawala serves as Orrick's firmwide pro bono counsel, responsible for managing and initiating the firm's pro bono activities, including all administrative and legal aspects.
Rene works with other pro bono counsel and legal services nonprofits to increase the quantity and quality of pro bono representation that is being provided to indigent clients in each of the cities worldwide where Orrick has a presence. In addition, he supervises and directly works on cases in such diverse areas as immigration law, family and matrimonial law, housing law, public benefits law, employment law counseling, impact litigation and nonprofit advice and counseling. Rene has worked on many substantial matters in the federal and state systems over his career that are reported as precedent. He also works with firm attorneys to strengthen the firm's innovative Impact Finance and Social Enterprise team that he founded and that provides representation in diverse transactional areas to nonprofit, for profit and hybrid organizations dedicated to providing basic services to poor persons around the world in areas including microfinance, water, education, energy, housing and health.
Based on his long-standing commitment to access to justice issues, Rene has been appointed to serve as a member of the New York City Bar Association Right to Counsel Task Force and the New York City Bar Association Family Court Judicial Appointment & Assignment Process Work Group. In recognition of his exemplary work in family law, United States District Judge Bloom appointed Rene as a special master in a federal court family law matter in 2014 in the Eastern District of New York in case number 07-cv-02565-ARR-LB, styled Garmhausen et al v. United States Department of Justice et al.
Immediately prior to joining Orrick in his current position, Rene served as a law clerk to the Honorable I. Leo Glasser, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, between September 2004 and August 2005. He was an associate in Orrick's employment law department between October 1996 and July 2004 where he practiced in general labor and employment counseling and litigation, with a focus on trade secrets. During that time, he initiated a formal pro bono program in the New York office and served as the pro bono coordinator for the office.
Rene has received recognition for his significant contributions to pro bono clients in the areas of impact litigation, matrimonial and family law, immigration law, benefits and employment law counseling, through receipt of Network For Women's Services (now Her Justice) First Annual Commitment to Justice Award (March 1999); the Cornerstone Award from Lawyers Alliance for New York (May 2001); the New York City Bar Association Justice Center Public Service honoree (September 2006); the Phillip Burton Immigration & Civil Rights Award for Lawyering from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (May 2010); the Jeremy G. Epstein Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Service from the City Bar Justice Center (October 2011); the First Annual Unsung Heroes' Award from the New York Law Journal (November 2011); the New York City Family Court Volunteer Attorney Program Outstanding Service Award (October 2013); the Legal Aid Society of New York's Pro Bono Publico Award (November 2010 through November 2013); New York Legal Assistance Group's Pro Bono Coordinator of the Year (July 2014) and Her Justice's Commitment to Justice Award (February 2019).