Pro Bono Publico Awards

2008 Awards Recipients

Craig Cannon

Craig D. Cannon has been actively involved in pro bono efforts throughout his career. Cannon's nomination was submitted and supported by representatives of Legal Services Corporation, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services and Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC

Since 2006, Cannon has served as the National Coordinator of the American Bar Association's Disaster Legal Services Program, a program managed pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding between the American Bar Association and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Disaster Legal Services Program provides pro bono legal assistance to disaster victims across the country. In the fall of 2007, Cannon served as the lead drafter of a new Memorandum of Understanding between the American Bar Association and the Federal Emergency Management Agency that has resulted in a new partnership between the American Bar Association and Legal Services Corporation and the improved delivery of legal assistance to disaster victims. During his tenure as National Coordinator, more than 75,000 disaster victims have received assistance through the Disaster Legal Services Program.

Since 2005, Cannon has helped to plan and implement a series of pro bono clinics for military veterans. These clinics, titled "When Duty Calls" clinics, are designed to assist military veterans in obtaining service related disability benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. During the past two years, "When Duty Calls" clinics have provided pro bono assistance to more than one thousand military veterans. During the same timeframe, hundreds of attorneys have received instruction on how to effectively assist military veterans in filing disability claims with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

Cannon has also personally provided pro bono legal assistance to numerous charitable institutions and spent four weeks in New Orleans during the summer of 2006 providing pro bono assistance to Hurricane Katrina and Rita victims.

DLA Piper

DLA Piper's pro bono program is widely considered one of the most robust and innovative models among large law firms today. According to The American Lawyer's pro bono survey last year, more than 95% of DLA Piper lawyers in the US worked 20 hours or more on pro bono projects, making the firm #1 for pro bono participation in the AmLaw 200. Lawyers at the firm worked an average of 89 hours of pro bono in 2006. DLA Piper has developed innovative strategic projects in partnership with nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, foundations, and corporate clients. These projects aim to aggregate and focus legal expertise to develop creative solutions to challenging social problems and provide world class legal services to the most vulnerable and underserved members of the global community. Some of DLA Piper's signature projects include: Access to Education, The Fight Against Hunger, and Serving Those Who Serve Our Country.

One project that deserves special recognition is Chicago's Signature Project in Juvenile Justice - the largest pro bono project undertaken by DLA Piper to date. This project grew out of the firm's desire to enhance the impact of its pro bono work by concentrating significant resources in a particular area of law. In all, the firm donated over 23,000 lawyer hours, worth nearly $6.5 million, to representing young people in conflict with the law and to examining particular laws and public policies that impede these young people's abilities to turn their lives around.

Over the past three years, DLA Piper lawyers have zealously represented scores of children I legal proceedings; undertaken a major policy initiative aimed at helping court-involved children return to school; and drafted and introduced legislation in the Illinois legislature that will positively affect thousands of young people's lives.

Fordham University School of Law (Public Interest Resource Center)

Founded at Fordham University School of Law in 1992, the Public Interest Resource Center (PIRC), guided by the remarkable leadership of Tom Schoenherr (currently the Assistant Dean for Public Interest and Director of PIRC) and John Ferrick (currently the Norris Chair of Law to Public Service), among others, and driven by succeeding classes of highly motivated public interest law students, has established itself as a nationally heralded and emulated law school pro bono program and public interest center that is a model for law schools, not only throughout greater New York, but throughout the country.

Nearly 500 Fordham Law students each year participate in some form of pro bono or public service through PIRC, which is staffed by four full-time professionals and administers eighteen separate student-run volunteer programs. Last year, the class of 2007 contributed over 100,000 hours of pro bono or public services through PIRC organizations, internships, externships, clinics and independent projects.

David A. Kutik

David A. Kutik of Jones Day in Cleveland, Ohio has been actively involved in pro bono efforts throughout his 28 year legal career. As a bar leader, a leader in his law firm and an active practitioner, David has advanced the cause of providing legal services to those most in need but least able to afford them.

Kutik served as President of the Cleveland Bar Association in 2004-2005, and one his primary objectives was to encourage and foster the growth of pro bono commitment from the law firms and law departments throughout the greater Cleveland area. His initiative, entitled, Our Commitment to Our Community, resulted in pledges of more than 60,000 hours of pro bono service in its first year in existence. In that year alone, 2,000 lawyers from 28 law firms and three law departments actually delivered over 70,000 hours of pro bono service. Kutik continues to be very active in fostering pro bono commitment and creating opportunities for lawyers to participate. In his role as Vice President of the Legal Aid Society in Cleveland, he chairs its Pro Bono Committee. Working with the Legal Aid Society, he established a Volunteer Lawyers Program, which has in turn established a number of clinics providing free legal assistance to those in need. In addition, he currently chairs the Ohio State Bar Association Pro Bono Task Force. In that position, he has helped involve the judiciary in Pro Bono programs as well.

Finally, Kutik practices what he preaches. He actively participates in the Legal Aid Society's Brief Advice and Referral Clinics, taking on family law matters at these Saturday morning clinics in neighborhoods throughout Legal Aid's service area.

Sarah Michael Singleton

Sarah Michael Singleton's nomination was submitted by the President of the State Bar of New Mexico, with the support of the Board of Bar Commissioners, and the endorsement of no fewer than sixteen of the past Presidents of the New Mexico Bar. She also received letters of support from six separate legal services providers who spoke of the unique role Singleton has played in leading the movement to provide Access to Justice and legal services to New Mexico's poor.

As President of the New Mexico State Bar in 1995-1996, Singleton convened the state's symposium on strategies for expanding Access to Justice. She served on the Board of Bar Commissioners from 1989-1997, and throughout that time her primary mission was to educate, motivate and initiate greater understanding of the need for legal services for the poor. She created the Lawyers Care Program, a program of the New Mexico State Bar developed for the purpose of referring cases to the private bar in the face of federal spending cuts to New Mexico's legal aid programs.

Following her term as State Bar President, Singleton served as co-chair of the State Bar's Legal Services and Programs Committee, responsible for addressing access to justice issues. She fought for and helped persuade the State Legislature to provide funding for legal services, resulting in $2.5 million in annual funding. She served as the State Bar's appointee to the Civil Legal Services Commission, responsible for distributing those state funds to organizations serving the legal needs of the poor. Singleton has been the Co-Chair of New Mexico's Commission on Access to Justice since its inception in 2004.

Singleton has been active in the cause of Access to Justice and provision of legal services to the poor beyond the borders of New Mexico. She served two three year terms as a member of the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense (1996-1999, 2001-2004), and four years as a member of the ABA Committee on State Justice Initiatives. Finally, in 2006, Singleton was appointed by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate to serve as a member of the Board of Legal Services Corporation.