As Kelley Drye’s Pro Bono Counsel, Jim O’Gara has primary responsibility for developing and overseeing the Firm’s pro bono representation program, with support from Kelley Drye’s Pro Bono Committee. In his role, Jim maintains relationships with courts, referral agencies and legal services organizations that provide pro bono opportunities for Kelley Drye attorneys and paralegals; establishes policies and procedures for accepting new pro bono representations; oversees staffing of pro bono matters; and joins Kelley Drye partners in mentoring associates and supervising their work.
Prior to taking on the role of Pro Bono Counsel, Jim was a Kelley Drye litigation partner with extensive experience handling complex prescription pharmaceutical and toxic tort litigation issues, including the representation of international pharmaceutical and chemical companies. Jim’s direct pro bono experience has included habeas corpus petitions, sex offender rights, SORA hearings, prisoner rights, immigration rights (asylum), child custody disputes, veterans assistance and election rights. Prior tobecoming the firm’s Pro Bono Counsel, Jim represented national medical testing laboratories in medical malpractice lawsuits, chemical companies in toxic tort litigations, insurance companies in life insurance coverage disputes, national security system and monitoring service providers in contractual disputes, banking organizations in litigation involving RICO claims and allegations of commercial fraud and misrepresentation, counseled a variety of Pacific Rim trading companies with respect to their import and other commercial activities throughout the United States, and represented manufacturers before the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Food and Drug Administration.
While representing a client in a federal habeas corpus petition, Jim obtained the reversal of the client’s conviction and secured his release from prison. Jim was commended by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in its decision granting the requested relief, as follows: “Before concluding, we pause briefly to commend Kelley Drye & Warren, which took on this matter pro bono publico over eight years ago, and has now seen it through. Kelley Drye & Warren’s work on this case has been tenacious and consistently skillful, and by providing their client with superbly effective assistance of counsel, the firm has acted in the best tradition of our profession. . . .” Pavel v. Hollings, 261 F. 3d 210 (2d Cir. 2001).