Lawyers are uniquely positioned to provide each of their clients with a voice, and this is exactly what drives this year’s 2023 Jean Crowe Pro Bono Award recipient Kristin Whidby to champion for underrepresented individuals in the face of domestic violence through her pro bono legal services.
Kristin is a litigation special counsel and registered patent attorney at Fried Frank, based in the firm’s Washington, DC, office. She brings both her skills as an experienced litigator and her personal empathy as a mother of four young children to every one of her cases. Throughout her career, she has spent thousands of hours advocating for clients in complex family law cases involving child custody and domestic violence protection.
“A client I represented six years ago in a child custody case recently called me. Because of the civil protection order and child custody order we obtained on her behalf, she and her children were able to stop living in fear and finally prosper. The oldest child is now getting ready to graduate college—the first in her family—with a degree in cybersecurity, and has a job lined up with an international bank after graduation. None of that would have been possible with their prior circumstances. This is why I do pro bono, for the moments like this where you know that you made a real positive difference in someone’s life,” said Kristin.
Kristin has become a champion for DC Volunteer Lawyers Project (DCVLP), both within Fried Frank and in the wider legal community. DCVLP is a nonprofit organization providing pro bono legal services to domestic violence victims and at-risk children.
Kristin is deeply committed to providing pro bono services, particularly for victims of domestic abuse. Her clients in the family law arena have been predominately low-income and particularly vulnerable at the time representation commenced. Along with taking on her own cases, Kristin also encourages her fellow colleagues to get involved with pro bono work and take on domestic violence civil protection order cases of their own. She supervises both the summer and junior associates who take the lead on these cases, and helps them prepare for opportunities to speak in court.
Her impact has been recognized by DCVLP, which selected her as Law Firm Volunteer Attorney of the Year in 2016, and the Florida Bar, which recognized her as a Pro Bono Service Award recipient in 2019 for her work representing individuals in complex family law cases involving abused women or children. Additionally, Kristin has been named to the Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll eight times and received the designation of ‘High Honors’ six times, which recognizes attorneys who contributed 100 hours or more of pro bono service in the calendar year.
Kristin’s dedication to client welfare epitomizes the steadily increasing commitment that nonprofits hope for—moving from a volunteer on a single case to a partner in recruiting, advocacy, development and governance.