Pro Bono Publico Awards

2005 Awards Recipients

J. Philip Burt

J. Philip Burt has demonstrated his dedication to the delivery of legal services on a pro bono basis on many levels. In Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he is a partner in the law firm of Burt, Blee, Dixon, Sutton & Bloom, Mr. Burt leads by example and represents countless pro bono clients, mainly in consumer and bankruptcy areas. He has maintained three or four pro bono cases a year for at least 44 years. Long before there was an organized volunteer lawyer initiative in Fort Wayne, Mr. Burt helped to establish a pro bono assistance program through a local church. On a state level, Mr. Burt has been a member of the Indiana Pro Bono Commission since its creation in 1999 and has served as the Chair since 2002. Prior to the creation of the Commission, Mr. Burt was a key architect of the state's IOLTA Rule that directed funds to statewide pro bono programs and assisted in the development of local pro bono districts to build a statewide pro bono infrastructure. In his role as Chair, he has spearheaded many new initiatives, including a law school pro bono and mentoring project through the state Pro Bono Commission that brings together lawyers and law students from the four law schools in Indiana.

Deborah Ebel

Deborah Ebel is this year's Ann Liechty Child Custody Pro Bono Award recipient. Ms. Ebel is the Pro Bono Coordinator and a litigation partner at McKenna, Long & Aldridge in Atlanta, Georgia. Ms. Ebel was the co-founder of the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation's ("AVLF") Guardian Ad Litem ("GAL") program, the first of its kind in Georgia. Her law firm served as the program's initial sponsor, and supplied the first group of volunteers. Her firm remains the primary sponsor and regularly offers its offices and resources for GAL trainings. To date, the AVLF program has served as GAL in over 1,300 cases, and is a national model for programs advocating for children in private custody cases. Ms. Ebel herself has accepted almost thirty GAL cases through AVLF, more than any other GAL and totaling many thousands of pro bono hours. Since the program's inception, she has regularly donated her time both in developing new materials for the GAL Training Manual and in training new volunteers. She has participated in over twenty GAL trainings and has traveled throughout Georgia to help other jurisdictions develop similar programs. Ms. Ebel also has improved the quality of GAL advocacy in Georgia, recently playing an invaluable role in developing statewide guidelines for GALs.

Lawrence J. Fox

Lawrence J. Fox is a partner at the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania law firm of Drinker, Biddle & Reath. Mr. Fox has served as the Chair and a Steering Committee Member for the ABA's Death Penalty Representation Project continuously since 1996. In this capacity, he has recruited more than a dozen law firms to handle death penalty cases on a pro bono basis and engaged both state and federal judges to host pro bono recruitment events. He has written and spoken extensively throughout the country on the critical need to provide defendants on death row with qualified and effective legal representation. In addition to his advocacy work, Mr. Fox has represented two death penalty clients himself and has been involved in many other cases as counsel for amici, strategic advisor, or both. In other substantive matters, he has recorded over 650 pro bono hours on a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of public housing residents in Chester, Pennsylvania with the goal of rehabilitating and improving public housing. As a pro bono lawyer, he has taken on diverse issues such as child welfare, election law, and prisoners' rights at Guantanamo Naval Base.

Elizabeth McCallum

Elizabeth McCallum, a partner at Howrey, Simon, Arnold & White's Washington DC office, billed almost 800 pro bono hours in 2004 and since joining Howrey in 1995, over 4,000. She has worked to improve the lives of poor school children through her advocacy to ensure that students of the Baltimore City School District receive a "thorough and efficient education" as guaranteed under the Maryland Constitution. She has been instrumental in ensuring that public interest organizations advocating for the rights of the disabled have the right to use state governments who are violating their rights to access. And, from the very beginning of her career in 1992, she has been a strong advocate for reproductive rights, including winning a significant victory in Tennessee. McCallum also volunteers at legal clinics and assists individual clients with their legal problems. She serves as a role model for all of the firm's lawyers and as a mentor for many of Howrey's associates.

Jeffrey A. Simes

Jeffrey A. Simes is a litigator and the Pro Bono Partner in Goodwin Proctor's New York office. In 2004 he was the lead trial attorney in a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of homeless children and their parents living in Suffolk County New York. The lawsuit alleged that state and county agencies and school districts had failed in their responsibility for educating and providing social services to these children. Simes led a team of 42 attorneys and professional staff from Goodwin Proctor's New York and Boston offices. The case settled, resulting in hundreds of homeless children in Suffolk County being given the support they need to attend school. Simes has continued his work on behalf of children's rights to education by joining New York City's Homeless Education Working Group and through his speaking out and testifying about the critical issues facing homeless youth. His leadership by example, in addition to his promotion of pro bono within the firm, has been instrumental in Goodwin Proctor increasing its firm-wide pro bono commitment.