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2023 Justice Impact Awards Law Firm: Ted Howard

Ted Howard is the quietest legend you will ever meet. To speak with him, you would not know of the thousands of hours he’s personally dedicated to pro bono service or the hundreds of lawyers he’s mentored and supported as Wily Rein’s Pro Bono Partner. What you will hear and feel is his passion for closing the access to justice gap and his commitment to serving his neighbors. He is a leader in our community, and we are proud to loudly announce Ted as the distinguished recipient of our 2023 Justice Impact Award for Law Firm Lawyers.

Ted’s journey into the legal profession started with a profound desire to join the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division after law school. However, fate took an unexpected turn when President Reagan’s hiring freeze disrupted his plan. Ted adapted to the situation, accepting a position at a law firm, but he never relinquished his yearning to serve the public. Fast forward to 2001 when he became a part of Wiley Rein. As the years passed, his expertise grew, and so did his commitment to pro bono service. By 2014, a significant portion of his time was dedicated to pro bono work.

In May 2014, Wiley Rein’s firm leadership made a transformative announcement that would reshape the landscape of pro bono service at the firm. They introduced the concept of a full-time Pro Bono Partner, and Ted enthusiastically stepped forward to embrace this unique role. For him, this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enhance his firm’s commitment to pro bono work, strengthen ties with legal services providers, and inspire his fellow lawyers to engage in pro bono service.

Since then, Ted has been at the forefront, overseeing the firm’s pro bono activities and initiatives. In his role, he actively nurtures relationships with the public interest legal services community, continually seeks new avenues to serve, and leads the pro bono community in best practices. Ted has brought structure and focus to the firm’s pro bono efforts, significantly increasing their capacity in community partnerships and the number of firm lawyers dedicating their time to pro bono service. His collaborative efforts extend to organizations such as CAIR Coalition, Catholic Charities Legal Network, the Consumer Law Resource Center, D.C. Bar Advocacy and Justice Clinic, Legal Aid Justice Center, the Legal Aid Society of DC, Legal Counsel for the Elderly, Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, and many more. Together, they work to provide equal access to the justice system for individuals and groups who may otherwise be unable to afford it.

What truly distinguishes Ted is his remarkable ability to balance administrative responsibilities with an active caseload. While many pro bono counsel at other large law firms predominantly focus on administrative tasks, Ted remains actively involved in litigation. His pro bono work encompasses a wide spectrum, from death penalty representation to landlord-tenant cases, child custody, adoption matters, and prisoners’ civil rights cases, with a specific focus on conditions of confinement of incarcerated individuals under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 and the 8th Amendment.

Ted’s influence transcends individual clients and extends to the legal community as a whole. He is ever ready to mentor, support, and encourage pro bono work. His impact has inspired hundreds of attorneys to engage in high-quality pro bono work at Wiley Rein. Furthermore, Ted actively participates in the Association of Pro Bono Counsel (APBCo) and serves on the Board of the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance, where he focuses on reparations issues and other critical matters. He has been a member and chair of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid and currently serves as a member and chair of the Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services of the District of Columbia Circuit Judicial Conference. Ted’s service extends to the boards of the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center, Legal Aid Justice Center, Rising for Justice, and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee. Currently, he sits on the Honorary Board of Washington Council of Lawyers. In recognition of his outstanding service, Ted received the Wiley Branton Award from the Washington Lawyers’ Committee in 2015 and the Servant of Justice Award from Legal Aid in 2006. His dedication to the D.C. area’s legal community is unparalleled.

Ted has an unwavering dedication to justice and demonstrates tireless efforts to serve those in need. We are proud to recognize Ted as the inaugural recipient of the 2023 Justice Impact Award for Law Firm Lawyers.

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