With a commitment to pro bono services spanning a quarter-century, Trachtman has been a leader both at Kramer Levin, serving as chairman of the law firm’s Pro Bono Committee for 17 years, and in the legal areas of Social Security disability and LGBT rights.
The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service will honor Trachtman and four other award recipients at the Pro Bono Publico Awards Assembly Luncheon from noon to 1:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at the Moscone Center West during the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. ABA President Laurel G. Bellows will host the awards ceremony.
“Lawyers lead our nation every day in the quest for justice and equality,” Bellows said. “These award recipients fulfill this mission through their dedication to pro bono work. They are outstanding examples of how lawyers can have meaningful and lasting effects on their communities.”
The Pro Bono Publico Awards honor individuals or organizations in the legal community that enhance the human dignity of others by improving or delivering volunteer legal services to the poor or disadvantaged.
While serving as the head of Kramer Levin’s Pro Bono Committee from 1994 to 2011, Trachtman dedicated 200 to 400 hours a year to administering the program and 100 to 500 hours a year to substantive pro bono work. And although he has stepped down as chairman, he still devoted more than 500 hours to pro bono activities last year.
Under Trachtman’s leadership, the firm’s Pro Bono Committee received widespread recognition for its work, including being honored as a Pro Bono Visionary by Legal Services NYC, the largest provider of civil legal services in New York City, and receiving awards from the ABA (John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award, 2007) and National Law Journal (Pro Bono Award, 2006).
Trachtman launched an innovative program at his firm for summer associates to do hands-on pro bono work and a mentoring program that pairs new associates with attorneys who regularly take on pro bono cases. He created an Attorney Service Program in which Kramer Levin associates rotate through a full-time staff position at South Brooklyn Legal Services as well as started the production of his firm’s Pro Bono Annual Report.
His passion for LBGT rights led Trachtman to serve as co-lead counsel with Lambda Legal in Hernandez v. Robles, a major litigation seeking equal marriage rights under the New York Constitution. The case raised the profile of issue and led to passage of a marriage equality bill in the state Assembly in 2011.
He also volunteered more than 1,000 hours as co-lead counsel in Encarnacion v. Astruet, a class action suit litigated over 10 years challenging the Social Security Administration’s practice of failing to consider the combined effects of all impairments in determining children’s eligibility for Supplemental Security Income benefits.
Trachtman has earned several individual pro bono recognitions, including the 2005 New York State Bar Association President’s Pro Bono Service Award. He is a co-founder of Cause Effective, an organization that teaches other nonprofits how to generate human and financial resources, and he currently serves on the boards of Legal Services NYC and Volunteers of Legal Service.
Trachtman graduated from New York University in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in politics and earned his law degree from the same school in 1984.
Other 2013 Pro Bono Publico Award recipients are lawyers Patricia Lee of Las Vegas and Bruce B. Blackwell of Orlando, Fla., law firm Leonard, Street and Deinard of Minneapolis and Exelon Corp. of Chicago. More information on the Pro Bono Publico Awards and the 2013 recipients is available here.
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. To review our privacy statement, click here. Follow the latest ABA news at www.abanow.org and on Twitter @ABANews.