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In Conversation: Latham and Homeboy Industries on Pro Bono and Serving the Community

Since 2015, we have provided pro bono support to Homeboy Industries, the largest gang rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world.

Since 2015, Latham & Watkins has provided pro bono support to Homeboy Industries, the largest gang rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. Based in Los Angeles, Homeboy offers training and services to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated people, helping them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of the community.

The Latham team advising Homeboy has been led by Peter Gilhuly, who retired from Latham in August 2022 after 32 years with the firm. Peter joined Latham partner Andrew Clark and associate Kojo Hayward* — who will spearhead Latham’s pro bono work on behalf of Homeboy — in conversation with Thomas Vozzo, CEO of Homeboy Industries. Their wide-ranging discussion covered Latham’s pro bono work for Homeboy, the importance of giving back, and their commitment to turning words into action.

How did Latham get involved with Homeboy Industries?

Peter Gilhuly: In 2015, I attended a talk with Father Greg Boyle, who founded Homeboy Industries over 30 years ago. I was so inspired that I subsequently met with Father Greg to explore ideas on how we could support this nonprofit through our pro bono program, specifically drawing on my experience as a finance partner at Latham. Since then, we’ve been involved on a range of projects, all of which seek to promote Homeboy’s scale and growth.

Thomas Vozzo: Homeboy Industries is the largest gang rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. We at Homeboy walk alongside people who are choosing to break cycles of trauma and transform their lives. One of the ways we do this is through our 18-month trainee program, offering folks a job at one of our social enterprises while they also utilize our services, such as tattoo removal, legal services, mental health services, education, and more.

We are so grateful to Latham for its partnership and support through pro bono legal services. Even though Latham is one of the largest law firms in the world, Peter, Andrew, Kojo, and the rest of the team have made us feel right at home as a client with their individualized service.

Kojo Hayward: Quite simply, Homeboy serves people no one else is serving. I gravitated to working with Homeboy because of its emphasis on social enterprises and job training. Their trainees are paid to learn job skills, which gives them confidence, purpose, and a tangible alternative to re-incarceration or former gang affiliations.

Andrew Clark: I’m excited to build on the great foundations established by Peter and to continue supporting this incredible nonprofit. All of Homeboy’s services — from therapy to tutoring to the largest tattoo removal service on the West Coast — are offered free of charge. By helping Homeboy increase profitability, we’re helping the organization help more people.

What kind of work does Latham do for Homeboy Industries?

Tom: Latham has been such a great partner. Our team of Latham lawyers has been instrumental in helping us break new ground in the nonprofit world of business and growing our social enterprises — especially with Homeboy Recycling and building the legal structure of the Homeboy Venture and Jobs Fund.

Kojo: Right now I’m advising Homeboy as it develops a partnership with CHERP Solar Works. CHERP is trying to bring renewable energy to economically disadvantaged communities in Southern California, and Homeboy wants to transition to renewable energy. So I’m working on the documents that will formalize their partnership, including negotiating site selection and manufacturing processes.

Andrew: Homeboy continues to seek out and develop social enterprises to add to an already impressive array. As Tom mentioned, we have provided support in helping Homeboy set up its Venture and Jobs Fund, which is being used to expand existing social enterprises and launch new ones, support training and promotion, and create additional jobs.

Not only do these social enterprises help Homeboy participants develop vocational and “soft” job skills, but they also benefit the broader community. For example, Homeboy Recycling works with people to recycle old smartphones and electronics.

Why do you make time to do pro bono work?

Peter: Pro bono work has always been integral to my legal practice. As lawyers, we have a unique opportunity — and, in my view, a responsibility — to give back in this way. And it’s been a privilege to play a role in driving real-world change — whether through challenging illegal search and seizures in federal court or helping a nonprofit like Homeboy get the legal support it needs to further expand its life-changing services.

Kojo: I joined Latham in part because of its culture of giving back. Our firm counts pro bono work the same as billable work. It’s just very cool to be able to tell people I’m doing pro bono work for remarkable organizations that are making a positive, meaningful impact.


*Kojo Hayward is admitted to practice in Ontario, Canada only. All work supervised by a member of the California Bar.