chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
Pro Bono Publico Awards

2014 Award Recipients

Keynote Speaker
The Honorable Robert A. Katzmann
Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Robert A. Katzmann Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, assuming that position on September 1, 2014. At his appointment to the federal bench in 1999, he was Walsh Professor of Government, Professor of Law and Professor of Public Policy at Georgetown University; a Fellow of the Governmental Studies Program of the Brookings Institution; and president of the Governance Institute.

A lawyer and political scientist by training, Judge Katzmann received his A.B. (summa cum laude) from Columbia College, A.M. and Ph.D in government from Harvard University, and a J.D. from the Yale Law School, where he was an Article and Book Review Editor of the Yale Law Journal. After clerking on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, he joined the Brookings Institution, where he was a research associate, senior fellow, visiting fellow, and acting program director. His books include: Regulatory Bureaucracy, Institutional Disability, Courts and Congress, Judging Statutes (forthcoming) editor and project director of The Law Firm and the Public Good; co-editor of Managing Appeals in Federal Court; editor and contributing author of Daniel Patrick Moynihan: The Intellectual in Public Life; and editor and contributing author ofJudges and Legislators. In 2007, he delivered the Marden Lecture of the New York City Bar Association, "The Legal Profession and the Unmet Needs of the Immigrant Poor" and later launched the Study Group on Immigrant Representation. He conceived of and sparked the creation of the Immigrant Justice Corps, the country's first fellowship program dedicated to meeting the need for high-quality legal assistance for immigrants. He also convened the Study Group on Immigrant Representation, from which emanated the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, the first government funded program providing counsel for detained non-citizens.

Judge Katzmann has been a public member of the Administrative Conference of the United States; a vice-chair of the Committee on Government Organization and Separation of Powers of the ABA Section on Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice; a board member of: the American Judicature Society, NYU's Institute of Judicial Administration; a member of the Board of Visitors of Georgetown University Law Center, and of the board of academic advisors of the Rehnquist Center. He served as co-chair of the FTC transition team for the Clinton/Gore Administration, and as special counsel to Senator Moynihan on the confirmation of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He chaired the Section on Legislation of the American Association of Law Schools. He teaches a course on the administrative process at NYU Law School. He currently chairs the U.S. Judicial Conference Committee on the Judicial Branch.

Judge Katzmann received the American Political Science Association's Charles E. Merriam Award (2001), "given to a person whose published work and career represents a significant contribution to the art of government through the application of social science research." He is a recipient of the Fuld Award of the New York State Bar Association, the Chesterfield Smith Award of the Pro Bono Institute, the Michael Maggio Award of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the 2012 Learned Hand Medal of the Federal Bar Council. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Dechert LLP International

They say it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to address the lack of available legal services for the poor in the United States and around the world. The attorneys, paralegals and staff at Dechert LLP are very grateful and honored to receive the American Bar Association's 2014 Pro Bono Publico Award. However, we also recognize that we could not do this alone - and, to that end, we would be remiss if we did not recognize upfront the larger village of legal service providers and nonprofits with whom we partner. It is with these partners that Dechert gets to play a role in the very large and collective effort to attempt to meet the legal needs of those individuals and organizations who are unable to access legal services.

We would especially like to thank our longstanding partner Community Legal Services in Philadelphia for nominating us for this award. Our work with CLS exemplifies the importance of partnerships in providing pro bono legal services. In conjunction with CLS, Dechert created the Philadelphia Landlord-Tenant Program to assist low-income tenants. CLS identified a need in the Philadelphia community where more than 90% of the tenants in landlord tenant court were going unrepresented. We worked with CLS to develop a program whereby private attorneys could efficiently and effectively represent tenants in these matters. Since the program's inception in 2006, Dechert lawyers have handled more than 500 landlord tenant cases, often working with students from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. The experience has been wonderful for Dechert attorneys - who continue to learn from and be inspired by those working at CLS.

Taking on small matters for individuals and organizations that cannot afford legal services - like landlord tenant cases - is one of the cornerstones of Dechert's pro bono program. Many of the cases we undertake are not those that are going to make headlines or become the stuff of law school text books - but, we recognize the difference these cases can make. We rely on our community partners to help identify the unmet needs - and help train our lawyers so that we can join with others to try to fill them. For example, the National Veterans Legal Services Program has connected Dechert attorneys with more than 30 veterans across the country who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan, and are now diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This class of veteran is entitled to an additional amount of combat-related special compensation, which the firm has obtained for over half of its clients so far, and has yet to encounter an outright denial. Similarly, groups like Pro Bono Partnership and Lawyers Alliance for New York have connected Dechert attorneys with hundreds of nonprofit organizations who need help with a wide range of issues including formation, mergers, leases and contracts. Our community partners also identify cases that may have broader impact for us to tackle with them. For example, partnering with groups like the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Dechert has challenged the implementation of voter identification laws and tried to ensure state compliance with the National Voter Registration Act. We have also successfully challenged the Philadelphia school system to change the methods they were using to transfer students with autism from school to school without any notice or input from parents and have handled multiple challenges to the conditions of both state and federal prisons. The ABA Pro Bono Publico Award acknowledges the achievements of our entire village - Dechert lawyers and staff, our many community partners and, most importantly, our clients. The ultimate aim of all these partnerships is to serve clients. It is our clients who inspire us to be zealous, compassionate advocates. It is also our clients who are a constant reminder of the importance of trying to find ways to close the justice gap. The justice gap is real - and receiving this award is a reminder to Dechert to redouble its effort in playing a role in narrowing that gap.

Judge Edward M. Ginsburg (Retired) | Senior Partners for Justice Newton, MA

I look upon the American Bar Association Pro Bono Public Award as both the culmination of over fifty years at the Bar and as an incentive to keep moving. One of the most influential teachers in my life, a high school English teacher, used to come into an 8 a.m. class rubbing his hands together as he told the other students and me how much he enjoyed his work, and that if we learned something through his efforts that would be a great added benefit. I have received great personal pleasure from my legal career as a practicing trial lawyer for nineteen years, a family and probate court judge for twenty-five years and as the founder of Senior Partners for Justice for the past twelve years. In all these phases of my career, the personal enjoyment derived from the practice of law has been augmented by the satisfaction of being able to help individuals in difficult periods of their lives. My inspiration to become a lawyer came from my father. He came to this country from Kiev when he was only four years old. He, along with two older brothers, literally brought themselves up on the streets of Boston, paying their way by running two newspaper stands, one on Park Street and the other at Rowes Wharf. Dinner often consisted of tomato soup made by going into a cafeteria and pouring ketchup into a cup of hot water. Somehow all three brothers managed to get into Boston University Law School. At that time one did not have to obtain an undergraduate degree before entering law school.

In his last year of law school, my father desperately needed a loan of $500.00 in order to complete his education. He went to the Dean and pleaded his case. The Dean wrote out a check for $500.00 and gave it to my father. When my father asked about signing a note for the repayment, the Dean said "young man, if your word is not good, a note would not mean anything." Over the years, my father paid that loan back many times over. As a child growing up, I had the opportunity to observe how enthusiastic my father was as a trial lawyer. It was not unusual for him to go to two or three courts a day representing clients from wide socio-economic backgrounds. He relished both the clients and "the challenge." When I was considering either becoming a nightclub performer or going to law school, my parents suggested that as a lawyer, I could indulge all my fantasies. They pointed out that while a dissatisfied audience could leave the theater or boo, a judge or jury would have to listen to my story.

The practice of law has been good to my family and me. I am very proud that my wife, after many years as a social worker and raising two daughters, went to law school at night, and is now a very highly respected family law attorney. One of my daughters, after serving eighteen years as a public defender, is now a state trial court judge.

Starting and nurturing Senior Partners for Justice has been a wonderful way to pay back and at the same time continue to enjoy life. Although I was warned that once I retired from the bench, lawyers might be less willing to return my phone calls, one of the most rewarding experiences in founding Senior Partners has been the outpouring of lawyers willing to volunteer to both represent the indigent and to assist the court system itself in the ever more difficult and complex process of providing access to justice. Over a thousand lawyers in all stages of their careers, from novice lawyers to lawyers in the middle of their careers to those seeking an "encore" opportunity at the end of an active career have come forth to help the ever increasing pro se population in court. What a thrill to have been part of this movement which, with the great administrative support of the Volunteer Lawyers Project, makes a significant contribution in providing justice.

Alan Howard | Crowell & Moring, New York, NY

Thank you to the ABA for its celebration of pro bono services. While you have bestowed upon me the tremendous honor of individual recognition, I accept this award on behalf of the tens of thousands of attorneys throughout the nation who devote substantial time and energy on behalf of pro bono clients.

Thank you to the Southern Poverty Law Center ("SPLC") for the honor of nominating me for the ABA Pro Bono Publico Award. It is truly humbling to be recognized for efforts in my spare time when the attorneys at SPLC, from Morris Dees and Richard Cohen right through the ranks, spend every hour of every day of their professional lives fighting for justice for those without the means or ability to do so themselves. Inscribed on the facade of the SPLC's Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery, Alabama are the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, proclaiming that those who fight for equality and dignity for all should not rest "Until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." Those words inspire all of the work of the SPLC, and they should inspire all of us who have the privilege to practice law.

Thank you to my colleagues at Crowell & Moring for supporting pro bono in such a meaningful manner, and for sharing me with the SPLC. Thank you also for maintaining a firm built on the best ideals of our profession and for embracing me as a true partner. Thank you, most of all, to my family - - my parents and siblings who taught me the importance of treating people with respect and dignity and led by example, and my wife and children who not only have inspired my pro bono efforts, but have supported them, including in the most tangible way possible.

It was March 2008, and I had just left the most surreal court conference of my career. The judge in Jena, Louisiana, presiding over the "Jena 6" criminal case, had just called my client - - Jesse Ray ("Jody") Beard, the youngest of the six African-Americans arrested and charged with attempted murder for a schoolyard fight - - a career criminal. In a voice reminiscent of Strother Martin, the judge actually said "we gotta teach these boys a lesson."

From the experience of that court conference, as well as other episodes in the case too numerous and shocking to detail here, I knew that Jody had no realistic future in his own hometown. So I made Jody a promise that day that I would get him out of Jena. The first part of keeping that promise involved getting the judge recused from the Jena 6 case, and that was accomplished by a devoted legal team from the SPLC, the Juvenile Justice Program of Louisiana, and DLA Piper. The second part of keeping that promise to Jody involved finding him a place where he could finish high school and live his life free from prejudice and preconceived and false characterizations. For that, my family offered our home and our love. It was my daughter, then 16, and my sons 13 and 10, who suggested that Jody should live with us, and to my wife's credit, she never hesitated to say yes even though it meant taking care of a fifth child (counting me).

We attorneys in private practice extol the benefits of pro bono work, and at the top of that list of benefits is the personal gratification that comes from helping others in need. In my case, the rewards for having had the opportunity to help Jody have been immeasurable. The work on the Jena 6 case, the collaboration with teams of pro bono counsel, and the just result we achieved were as professionally rewarding as any matter on which I have worked. That case also led to a relationship with the SPLC, and the chance to work on other significant matters of social justice, as well as to work with not just the SPLC attorneys but counsel from other public service organizations as well. Most of all, the Jena 6 case brought Jody to my family. Being able to demonstrate to your kids how you can make a difference in someone's life is wonderful. Having your kids participate in making that difference, and learning that lesson first-hand, is priceless.

Kermit F. Lowery | LexisNexis, Miamisburg, OH

Performing pro bono work has been my passion for more than 20 years, but my desire to help others dates back to my childhood. I distinctly recall my mom saying "help others when you can and always give back to your community" and she lived her life according to those words. My desire to perform pro bono work started while I was an active duty JAG Officer with the US Army working in the Legal Assistance Office. I routinely provided legal counsel to soldiers and military dependents on a variety of civil matters (especially divorce and dissolution), but I could not represent them in court. In many cases the solider or dependent could neither afford legal representation nor qualify for legal aid assistance so their legal rights were not addressed. I was extremely frustrated and felt there was nothing else I could do until I attended an ABA Legal Aid to Military Personnel (LAMP) Committee meeting in and discovered there were attorneys and law firms around the country willing to provide pro bono services to military personnel. After attending the LAMP meeting I was able to better inform clients about other legal resources when the clients could not afford legal representation. The LAMP meeting also made me determined to perform pro bono work after I left the US Army.

I left the Army in 1988 and relocated to Dayton, OH. Shortly thereafter, while looking to fulfill my Continuing Legal Education (CLE) obligation, I learned about the Dayton Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP). The VLP was offering a CLE seminar on domestic relations (DR) whereby the attendees could pay the fee or have the fee waived in exchange for taking one pro bono case. Initially I was reluctant given I had only been inside military courtrooms and never handled a divorce. However, the CLE instructors, composed of DR court personnel and local DR attorneys, helped me become comfortable with the idea. The DR court personnel agreed to help all volunteers navigate through the process and the local attorneys agreed to provide assistance whenever needed for pro bono matters.

After the CLE seminar I handled my first pro bono case and I've continued ever since. Each year I've handled more and more cases and over the past few years I have handled 10-20 cases per year. Approximately nine years ago I joined the Board of Trustees for the VLP and continue to serve in that capacity today.

I'm extremely passionate and dedicated to providing DR pro bono services because for many individuals it is truly a new start in life. Many of the women (occasionally men) are being liberated from spouses who are physically and verbally abusive substance abusers, incarcerated, or unwilling to seek employment and support the family. I had one particular client that caused me to increase my pro bono efforts and remain committed to this cause. This particular client had managed to obtain a nursing degree. During our last conversation she was in tears because she had just purchased a home and said it was the first time her daughters had individual bedrooms and their own backyard in which to play. She thanked me profusely saying that if I hadn't helped with the divorce neither nursing school nor buying a home would have happened. This is why I am committed to continuing pro bono services to clients who otherwise could not afford legal representation.

I want to thank the VLP Board of Trustees, the VLP staff, my employer LexisNexis and all the attorneys in the metro Dayton area who perform pro bono services for the VLP. The VLP board members (past & present) are extremely supportive, engaged and are doing great things for the VLP as well as their firms, offices and other organizations in the metro Dayton area. Members of the board lead by example and inspire me with how committed they are to helping our community. I want to thank the VLP Staff. The VLP staff is passionate, energetic, creative and extremely hard-working. They really make it easy for volunteers to perform bono work.

I am extremely proud of my employer LexisNexis who is relentless in promoting the Rule of Law around the world and encouraging every employee to give back to their communities through volunteer service. Lexis- Nexis provides every employee with two paid days each year to perform volunteer work for charitable entities (e.g., schools, places of worship, food pantries, etc.) and two days to perform pro bono work. I sincerely thank the attorneys in the metro Dayton area. During the VLP's existence over 1,000 attorneys have volunteered and contributed over $14M in billable hours to pro bono service. I am humbled and honored to work with the VLP board, VLP staff, LexisNexis and the legal community in Dayton, OH.

Norton Rose Fulbright | International

Norton Rose Fulbright is honored to have been chosen as a 2014 recipient of the American Bar Association's Pro Bono Publico Award. Because we think of ourselves as citizens of the communities in which we live and work, each year we donate tens of thousands of hours to pro bono matters in our communities across the globe. We encourage our people worldwide to use their legal knowledge and other professional skills to promote social inclusion, benefiting those who are disadvantaged, or underprivileged or lack access to the advice and counsel that we can offer.

In 2013, Fulbright & Jaworski combined with Norton Rose to form Norton Rose Fulbright, a top 10 global legal practice both in number of lawyers and revenue. Just as our global reach has expanded, so has our opportunity to serve. Our global dedication to charitable works amounts to millions of dollars in legal fees donated each year to help those who are unable to pay for such services.

Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers provide assistance to charitable, nonprofit organizations, community development projects and legal service programs for the poor in the United States, the United Kingdom and internationally through our 54 international offices. In London, our lawyers provide pro bono legal services to Barretstown, an international charity providing therapeutic recreation for children with series illnesses, while in Australia, our lawyers provide legal advice to some of Sydney's homeless population through the Wayside Chapel. In South Africa, our lawyers staff a domestic violence helpdesk at the Randburg Magistrate's Court, helping women complete protective order applications. In 2013, Norton Rose Fulbright's US lawyers logged a total of 76,571 pro bono hours. Our US pro bono committee sets expectations for pro bono service within the firm well above the American Bar Association's recommendation. We thank the Houston Bar Association for nominating us for this honor, as well as for its assistance and support through the HBA's Houston Volunteer Lawyers ("HVL") program. Together, we staff the Veterans Legal Clinics in the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, and the Saturday Legal Advice Clinics throughout Harris County. In 2013, we were able to handle more than 100 pro bono cases through the Houston Volunteer Lawyers program, for which we were honored in February by the Houston Bar Foundation for "Outstanding Contribution to HVL by a Large Firm," for the 14th consecutive year. Through the HVL, we also work with our friends at ExxonMobil to staff a monthly clinic at the Houston Area Women's Center Shelter, assisting victims of domestic violence with obtaining protective orders and related legal counseling. The clinic celebrated its second anniversary in November 2013, already having helped approximately 300 women.

To receive the ABA Pro Bono Publico Award is a great honor. We will not rest on our laurels. Norton Rose Fulbright's culture of commitment to pro bono legal services will continue to serve as a pillar of our philosophy.