The 2017 Recipients Of The ABA Pro Bono Publico Award
Keynote Speaker: The Honorable Jonathan Lippman
The Honorable Jonathan Lippman, former Chief Judge of New York and Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, is Of Counsel in the New York office of Latham & Watkins LLP and a member of the firm’s Litigation & Trial Department. He provides strategic counsel to clients on New York Law and appellate matters nationwide, and is a leader of the firm’s pro bono practice.
The Justice Index Team
The Justice Index ("JI") began in 2011 with the simple insight that it's hard to fix a problem when you can't see clearly what is going wrong. We have never had effective ways to understand which states' justice systems struggle the most to assure access to justice and which, despite challenges, are making it easier for vulnerable people in our society to protect their rights.
Thanks to the work of scores of volunteer lawyers, data professionals, state court officials, legal aid lawyers, law students and others, the JI is helping everyone to see the access to justice crisis in America more clearly. The JI is an interactive website that uses data, findings, indicators and indexing to rank the 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., on their adoption of selected best policies for assuring access to justice. By promoting self-analysis and making the adoption of best policies highly visible, the JI promotes positive change across the land.
The lack of access to justice ("A2J") is a crisis because it leaves millions of Americans with no place to turn to address some of life's most difficult problems, including: divorce, eviction, custody, foreclosure, debt collection, child support, and domestic violence. If you are unable to afford a lawyer, cannot get one through legal aid (a fact for millions who need help), have limited English language skills or suffer from a disability, you are unlikely to be able to tell your story in a meaningful way to a decision maker with the power to help. That is wrong. The A2J movement is working hard to change it. Many states have done important work in improving A2J. Many have done too little. No one state has done all that must be done.
The JI reflects the vision and dedication of the leadership of the National Center for Access to Justice ("NCAJ"), now at Fordham Law School following its founding at Cardozo Law School, and the long-term, extraordinary commitment of nearly 100 professionals who do the research, analyze the data and build the website.
When we began in 2011, lawyers at Skadden Arps researched A2J policies and programs across the country with the help of students at Penn and Cardozo law schools and in-house lawyers at UBS. Pfizer joined the team in 2012, bringing its legal staff and financial support, and introducing NCAJ to Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory, which joined the team and created the data analytics and web tools the JI relies on to this day. Kirkland & Ellis joined the team in 2013 just months before the JI went live and helped get us through the last moments before launch. The JI would not have been possible without all of these commitments.
In 2014, we began a second round of research and four law firms joined the team to re-canvas the country and provide a new and updated data set. Morgan Lewis Bockius, O'Melveny & Myers, Patterson Belknap, and Simpson Thacher, along with Kirkland, contributed the work of more than 50 lawyers – partners and associates – to the effort. Attorneys from General Electric also joined the team. With the continuing support of Pfizer and Deloitte, we launched the updated site in Spring 2016, alongside the ABA's Equal Justice Conference in Chicago, generating extensive media coverage.
During the project, state court chief justices, chief court administrators, and other court staff, as well as leaders in legal aid organizations all contributed substantially to the JI. While not pro bono partners, they were partners in fact, and the breadth and quality of the information in the JI were enhanced immeasurably by their cooperation.
And the original insight – that making policies and practices clearer would help in pursuing solutions – has proven out. We have seen many JI impacts: two states dedicating employees to innovation to support self-represented litigants; one state writing us to explain how it made its website user-friendly for self-represented litigants; several court officials reaching out for advice to officials in other states with JI best practices in place; several court officials using the JI to train new staff and to refresh senior staff on JI best practices; three A2J commissions inviting NCAJ to talk through JI findings and support local efforts using the JI to set reform goals and improve policy; one state modifying its court rule to prohibit charging litigants for interpreting. JI findings appear in court strategic plans and in federal civil rights enforcement reports, too.
The JI resulted from a very deep and very broad cooperation among volunteers from 13 institutions (six law firms, four corporations, and three law schools) drawing on legal and non-legal expertise to expand access to justice that improves people's lives. NCAJ is honored by the commitment and excited as we gear up for round three.
Erin J. Law | Morgan Stanley Legal and Compliance Division, New York, NY
I am honored to receive the ABA’s prestigious Pro Bono Publico Award. My pro bono work has been among the most rewarding work I have had the privilege to undertake, so this award is especially meaningful to me.
I graduated from Bard College determined to make a difference and joined a then fledgling program called Teach For America. I was assigned to South Louisiana where I taught special education in an under-resourced rural public school. I fell in love with Louisiana. In addition to learning how to make a fairly passable gumbo, I witnessed incredible teachers -- who had been teaching for decades -- changing the lives of their students. Following Teach For America, I attended Tulane Law School (which was the first law school to require pro bono service of law students).
My pro bono legal “career” took off after I joined Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP in New York as a litigation associate. Weil’s commitment to pro bono is deeply ingrained in its culture, and in addition to helping individual clients, Weil considers it essential to assist groups that work on behalf of the public to address issues of economic and social justice. I always was supported in my pro bono work, notwithstanding my workload as an associate. The matters were varied and rewarding, and it was at Weil that I met Miriam Buhl, Weil’s Pro Bono Counsel, an incredible champion, role model and friend.
The depth of Weil’s commitment to pro bono is reflected by Carey v. Maricopa County, a reproductive rights and free speech case. Alongside the supervising partner and attorneys from the Center for Reproductive Rights, I led the team that acted on behalf of Dr. Carey, a former head of Obstetrics and Gynecology at a Phoenix-based OB/GYN residency program. Over the course of two years, following extensive discovery (and over 50 depositions), motion practice and on the eve of trial, we obtained a seven-figure settlement for our client. I believe that the settlement sent a cautionary message to local and municipal governments seeking to stifle the free speech rights of public employees.
Assisting non-profits on a pro bono basis gave me a strong foundation for my service on the Board of Directors of the Ali Forney Center, a non-profit that provides services to homeless LGBT youth. I am now privileged to serve as the Chair of the Ali Forney Center’s Board of Directors and am excited about the groundbreaking work we are doing to enable our young people.
After the financial crisis, I joined Morgan Stanley as an in-house lawyer. At Morgan Stanley, one of our core values is “Giving Back” – and the Firm has a strong tradition of community service – but we had no pro bono legal program at the time. It quickly became clear to me that many of my colleagues wanted to “give back” by utilizing their skills as lawyers. Accordingly, after garnering the support of Eric Grossman, Morgan Stanley’s Chief Legal Officer, we launched a pro bono program. We began by participating in a legal clinic to help veterans secure benefits. Obtaining these benefits has changed our clients’ lives in significant ways. One client was able to obtain life-saving medical treatment, and another was able to move across country so that he could live near his family.
Our next initiative was obtaining rent-increase exemptions for low-income seniors that helped keep them in their homes. Other projects include representing New York City children seeking additional educational services, representing undocumented minor children in immigration proceedings, advising pro se litigants in family court, helping survivors of domestic violence obtain U Visas and assisting non-profits on transactional matters. I am proud of the many pro bono hours Morgan Stanley lawyers have contributed to the program and am enthusiastic about its future.
I am grateful for the partnership of the Pro Bono Counsels and attorneys at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, Davis Polk & Wardwell, Greenberg Traurig, Kramer Levin, O’Melveny & Myers, Sidley Austin, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Skadden and Weil, for the expertise of many incredible legal service providers and non-profits, including New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Sanctuary for Families, Advocates for Children, the City Bar Justice Center, the Safe Passage Project, KIND and the Pro Bono Partnership.
I would like to give my sincere thanks to my clients and colleagues who supported my nomination and especially to Weil and Morgan Stanley for their commitment to pro bono. I am also grateful for the support of my family and partner, Christine. I would like to dedicate this award to my late mother, Nancy Law, who was my first, and best, role model, and to whom I attribute my lifelong commitment to social justice, as well as the idea that it is up to all of us to work to improve access to justice and to speak out against hate, violence and intolerance.
Orrick is honored to be receiving the Pro Bono Publico Award for delivering legal services to those who need it most. Our pro bono work is one of the most important ways we measure our professional success. In 2016, over 90 percent of our U.S. lawyers exceeded The American Lawyer’s 20-hour pro bono standard. And we continued to transform the culture surrounding pro bono work in Europe and Asia – 52 percent of our international partners reached that 20-hour standard.
Among the 92,000 pro bono hours our attorneys worked in 2016, we helped immigrants to secure basic constitutional protections – protections that are especially important in this time of uncertainty for those who come to this country for a fresh start. We used innovative financial vehicles to boost Chicago’s nonprofits and stop climate change. And we represented veterans in their quest to obtain benefits and legal rights from the military. These are some of the ways we are making an impact.
For the 30,000 immigrants held in detention each day in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities, access to the justice system is paramount. Yet many of these detainees were prevented from reaching their lifeline out – their counsel. Held in remote locations, where in-person visits with counsel were impractical, these detainees had virtually no access to make calls to their lawyers. In Lyon v. ICE, Orrick collaborated with the American Civil Liberties Union to challenge these restrictions, and the result was dramatic. In March 2016 we secured an unprecedented class-action settlement that forced ICE to change its communications policies at four Northern California detention facilities. The agreement forged a national template that may be applied to facilities throughout the U.S.
Orrick is well-recognized for its innovative project finance work on behalf of pro bono clients, illustrated by our path-breaking work in 2015 for the city of Richmond, California in developing social impact bonds to restore a dilapidated neighborhood. In 2016, we continued to think outside the box alongside longtime pro bono client and nonprofit, Calvert Foundation. We helped Calvert create Benefit Chicago, which mobilized $100 million in impact investments for nonprofits and social enterprises in the city. Calvert’s capital helps the city provide low-interest loans and other investments that boost the ability of social networks to address issues ranging from education and child care to affordable housing and job training.
We are the first global law firm to establish an Impact Finance practice, and today we are leaders in the field. An Orrick team helped the Climate Trust execute a milestone contract with the David and Lucile Packard Foundation to secure a $5.5 million Program Related Investment (PRI) to seed a first-of-its-kind carbon investment fund for climate change mitigation. The initial fund is focused on supporting U.S.-based carbon offset projects in forestry, grassland conservation and livestock digesters.
It is a special duty and honor to give back to the women and men who have served our country, and Orrick has an established record of fighting for our veterans. This past year, our lawyers took on the case of Cpl. M, a survivor of two sexual assaults at the hands of her fellow Marines. She suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and sought to be declared unfit for continued service, which would entitle her to benefits. When the Navy’s informal Physical Evaluation Board found otherwise, our team persuaded the board to overturn its earlier findings. Today she is eligible for retirement and disability benefits.
Our lawyers continue to step forward to help the most vulnerable. In 2016, our lawyers collaborated with civil rights organization Legal Momentum and the Thomson Reuters Foundation to develop a major report on the global scourge of “Sextortion” – online sexual abuse of girls, teens and women. Building on this work, lawyers in our public policy group are now working pro bono to encourage state legislatures to amend existing laws to deal with the issue.
These examples of our pro bono service are just part of our comprehensive efforts to make an impact on our communities. We are working on high-profile pro bono matters that will doubtless make a further impact in the coming year, as our team is leading a constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 66, a law approved by voters last November that would dramatically curtail the appellate rights of the state’s death row inmates.
Our program is led by full-time pro bono counsel Rene Kathawala, and we are fortunate to have strong partnerships with public interest organizations around the world. We especially value our partners who nominated us for this award – City Bar Justice Center, Los Angeles County Bar Association, Kids in Need of Defense, Justice and Diversity Center (SF) and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Without these strong collaborative relationships, we wouldn’t be able to have the meaningful social impact that we do.
Debra Marie Pistorino Parrish | Parrish Law Firm, Pittsburgh, PA
I am honored to receive the American Bar Association’s Pro Bono Publico Award for our work with helping to secure access to medical treatments and technologies for Medicare beneficiaries. I have a small law firm that provides legal services in a few very specialized areas. We have been fortunate to work with many clients whose innovations have significantly improved the lives of individuals suffering from a disease or illness. We advocate for Medicare and private insurance companies to pay for those technologies and treatments through various legal and administrative channels.
Every spring we take on a pro bono case to help a Medicare beneficiary gain access to medical treatments that are reasonable and necessary for their treatment and care. We have represented Medicare beneficiaries seeking access to treatments, tests and devices for various diseases and illnesses including cancer, depression, hypertension and diabetes. I tell my children about these cases because it is important for them to know of the real health care struggles of others, that our system is imperfect for those not in good health, and that the cases are is important not only for the individuals I am helping, but for the overall integrity of our health system.
About four years ago, I was put in touch with a Medicare beneficiary, “Linda”, whose Type 1 diabetes was so profound that she was on disability. Her doctor had prescribed a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to enable her to control her diabetes, but Medicare had denied coverage stating the device was simply precautionary. A CGM is the standard of care for individuals with Type 1 diabetes and hypoglycemic unawareness, and the primary means by which such individuals control their disease.
Linda had run the five-step Medicare administrative process with only the assistance of her boyfriend, and had filed an action in District Court. I thought the case would be my spring case (how hard could it be?) as I was simply arguing for her to receive the standard of care and without it she was going to the ER multiple times a month. The use of CGMs in Type 1 diabetes is supported by numerous published peer-reviewed papers, and more than 95% of the commercial payers cover it. Medicare coverage made economic, scientific and clinical sense. We got the denial set aside and we thought our work was done.
We started hearing from numerous Medicare beneficiaries who were asking for help because their monitors also had been denied on the basis that they were precautionary. It’s important to add that CGMs can protect patients from unexpected fatal glucose lows that increase with age. These patients are the brave, diligent, and lucky ones – most of their contemporaries with Type 1 diabetes did not make it to Medicare age. Medicare’s coverage decision scared and offended me. I could not comprehend why a healthcare system most of us will age into would make such a decision. I hope it scares and offends everyone.
I talked to the other members of our firm, and we believed we had to use our knowledge of Medicare and help. Everyone in our firm has worked on these cases while meeting family and client demands. We won numerous administrative hearings in which the majority of Medicare’s judges agreed the CGM and its supplies should be covered, a policy challenge, and were involved in other District Court cases. Finally, in January of this year, Medicare agreed to limited coverage for CGMs for part of each month. Although this is certainly progress, much more work needs to be done for patients to secure full coverage for these often life-saving devices.
I hope the foregoing example will show the need for our profession to give a voice to Medicare beneficiaries. Although many with chronic illness become quite skilled navigating our healthcare system, Medicare is such a complex system that few are able to navigate its administrative processes without assistance. We are engaged in a great national debate about healthcare. Individuals can disagree on how to fix our healthcare system, what the best system looks like, and the role of the Federal government; however, I hope all of us can agree that any healthcare system should make thoughtful, intelligent coverage decisions.
Each pro bono case I have taken has allowed me to meet some of the brightest, hardest working physicians who expend great personal capital on behalf of their patients. I have met some incredible people, who although battling a terrible disease or illness, want to be contributing members of our society and fight not only for themselves, but for others in similar situations. Although I am honored and humbled to receive this award, my greatest honor has been to serve with and for those individuals.
William A. Waddell, Jr. | Friday, Elredge & Clark, Little Rock, AR
Commitment to place, building community, and developing long-term relationships are not often associated with pro bono work. Yet they are all associated with the work I am privileged to be a part of at the Mid-Delta Health Clinic Medical-Legal Partnership.
As wonderful as all of my pro bono experiences have been over the years, working with the staff and volunteers of the Mid-Delta Clinic has been my most fulfilling pro bono work. That fulfillment is the direct result of our commitment to both the medical-legal partnership clinic and the town of Clarendon where it is located. Because of that commitment, we have built long-term relationships and are able to help those in need more completely. Therefore, I share this recognition with the remarkable persons who work in the medical-legal partnership.
I would not be among the honorees today if it were not for some special people who have joined in this work. Lee Richardson of Legal Aid of Arkansas has created a compelling culture of providing legal aid that attracted Kevin De Liban from Seattle to rural Arkansas. My law partner at Friday, Eldredge Clark, Harry Light, and I became friends with Kevin and joined him after he pioneered the first rural medical-legal partnerships in Arkansas. Kevin has been the driving force and selfless guide to this work. Harry and I recognize that it has been our good fortune to work alongside the staff of the Mid-Delta Clinic, particularly Dr. Charles Field, Susan Capleaner, Al Sliger, and Mary Scemons. Our partnership at the clinic has even extended to the courthouse where Circuit Clerk Alice Smith, County Clerk Tina Wofford, and Assessor Renee Neal are always willing to offer assistance to us and our clients. As I leave Clarendon each time I work in the clinic, I realize again how the world is often blind to the plight of the people we serve there, and I am grateful for a renewed perspective on the dignity and goodness of people and the unique privilege that I have as a lawyer to be a part of their community.
The framework of pro bono legal service in Arkansas has been shaped by many, but none more important than Amy Johnson, the executive director of Arkansas Access to Justice. Amy's vision and tireless efforts have not only resulted in important innovations in how we join together to provide legal aid but also how we represent hope to those who need our services. .
My wife, Patty, and I are products of the Arkansas Delta, where we learned about cultural values that call us to live justly in community with everyone. Because she and our three daughters live out these values each day, I wrote the children’s story, Palindromic Pledge, as a way of telling them I love them for their dedication to children and social justice. Using the Pledge of Allegiance, palindromes, and institutions that help children, including a medical-legal partnership, I also hoped that children and their parents might use the story to begin discussing how we all are a part of making “justice for all” a reality. The story is a vision of what community might look like if we are all committed to access to justice.
In the end, increased access to justice is crucial. Individuals in need, particularly women and children, often have nowhere to turn but legal aid, and their unmet problems, which can often be resolved with minimal assistance, result in a loss of community. Without meaningful legal assistance to address these problems, respect for the rule of law erodes and we lawyers begin to lose our relevance. I celebrate all of you who understand the vital role of pro bono service and who have dedicated yourselves to the cause of access to justice.
The 2016 Recipients Of The ABA Pro Bono Publico Award
Cleary Gottlieb is sincerely honored and humbled to receive the American Bar Association’s 2016 Pro Bono Publico Award. Since its founding, the firm has believed that the practice of law is a privilege, one that carries with it the responsibility to apply its lawyers’ talents for the benefit of underserved individuals and communities. We approach our pro bono initiatives exactly as we approach our other matters: putting the full needs of the client front and center.
In 2015, the firm’s U.S.-based lawyers dedicated more than 63,000 hours to pro bono matters, assisting more than 400 clients. We are proud of these numbers, but the true measure of our pro bono program is the impact that our work has had on our clients. Mr. Olatushani, for example, had already been on death row for ten years when Cleary started working on his case in 1995. Following more than fifteen years of litigation in Tennessee state courts, Mr. Olatushani was released from prison in 2012. Mr. Olatushani is now an activist, artist, husband and father.
Our lawyers provide critically needed legal services to a broad range of clients like Mr. Olatushani who desperately need lawyers but cannot afford them. We defend the rights of the homeless, represent victims of gender violence, fight for better access to public facilities for people with disabilities, address delays in the Bronx criminal courts, represent immigrants, help community organizations incorporate and operate, and assist micro-lenders in their efforts to expand programs. In addition to our robust in-house pro bono program, in 1968, Cleary became the first law firm to establish an externship program, granting lawyers the opportunity to work at select legal services organizations while receiving full salary and benefits from the firm.
Cleary focuses much of its efforts on representing those most marginalized in our society. Since 2011, for example, Cleary has been working with The Legal Aid Society’s Exploitation Intervention Project which seeks to prevent trafficking survivors from being re-victimized by prior criminal convictions that act as barriers to empowerment, freedom and self-sustainability. Cleary has co-counseled dozens of cases with The Legal Aid Society, resulting in hundreds of prior criminal convictions being vacated on behalf of survivors of human trafficking. Wherever possible, we have sought to provide holistic services to these clients, taking on immigration cases, custody disputes and government benefits matters in addition to the vacatur motions.
On the civil rights front, in 2015, the firm, along with co-counsel Southern Poverty Law Center and Lite DePalma Greenberg, LLC, obtained a major victory on behalf of plaintiffs in a first-of-its-kind consumer fraud lawsuit against Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH). Following a three week trial, the jury found that JONAH’s “conversion therapy program,” offering services it claimed could turn clients from gay to straight, was fraudulent and unconscionable. The case has helped spark legislation nationwide to protect consumers from conversion therapies.
With respect to protecting the rights of immigrants, Cleary not only helps scores of individuals and families apply for a range of relief each year, but when necessary, we initiate litigation to ensure that the rights of immigrants are protected from government overreach. In 2015 we settled two significant cases, one brought on behalf of an unaccompanied minor who was improperly used by U.S. Customs & Border Protection in a sting operation to catch her smugglers and one on behalf of a four-year old U.S. Citizen child who was improperly detained at Dulles Airport and then sent back to Guatemala rather than reunited with her parents in the United States.
In the years ahead, we look forward to continuing our pro bono efforts and to identifying innovative ways to deploy the talent of our lawyers to make a difference in our communities.
This award is truly a reflection of our long-term partnerships with a range of legal services organizations that are dedicated to expanding access to justice. We would especially like to thank Lawyers Alliance for New York, New York Lawyers for Public Interest and The Legal Aid Society for nominating us for the award. Our nomination -- from these organizations that work tirelessly to advocate on behalf of the most vulnerable individuals and communities -- is itself an honor. We would also like to thank LatinoJustice, Sanctuary for Families, and Southern Poverty Law Center, for supporting Cleary for this award and for all of the guidance that you give us throughout each year on the matters we work on together. Finally, we would like to express our gratitude to Mr. Ndume Olatshuni for his support for this award and for his perseverance and friendship over the years.
John O. Goss, Goss and Fentress, Norfolk, VA
I’m sure this has been said before, but I was startled to hear that I was being nominated for this award. I thought the ABA Pro Bono Publico Award was reserved for much more deserving members of our legal community than me. I still can’t shake that feeling, so I am both humbled and gratified.
Attorneys don’t have to go looking for pro bono work. It usually finds us. The work for which I am being honored is like that.
It all began harmlessly enough. Last year I began writing articles for the firm’s website. I sought in one series to explain to our Social Security disability clients (my field of endeavor) whether ALJs were truly independent or independent with qualifications. That required a foray for material through constitutional, statutory and administrative law that turned out to be perfect preparation for the pro bono work that found me.
Having first seen it on TV, I was aware early on of the dire situation in eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia. Because of the fraud investigation of a disability attorney with offices in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, nearly 2,000 persons who were found disabled years ago were being terminated from the program unless they could re-prove disability cases that had long since become stale. These desperate souls couldn’t afford lawyers because the termination cases were not fee-generating. My professional organization, the National Organization of Social Security Claims Representatives, called on its members to volunteer to represent claimants pro bono. I am just one of many lawyers who answered the call.
It soon became clear that issues of ALJ independence, constitutional due process and compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act were crucial issues. The pure coincidence of my blog research grounded me enough to recognize them. Attorney Charles Hall, a leading expert in our field, created the list serve that was instrumental in letting me share my thoughts with fellow volunteers. That led to training work for less experienced volunteers, and to being asked to get involved in the class action litigation that is underway. Now, I find myself pushed out front to accept this award in behalf of all of my fellow pro bono publico volunteers. With gratitude to them, I am doing so.
I get asked from time to time why I got so involved. After some reflection, this is what I came up with: first and foremost, it was simply instinctive, as it is with most of us. We attorneys want to help people. Second, I began my career as a legal aid attorney. You can take the lawyer out of legal aid, but you can never take legal aid out of the lawyer. I remember putting my freshly-minted license on the wall of my first law office at the Tidewater Legal Aid Society in Norfolk, Virginia. I remember being instantly overwhelmed by what I was being asked to do. I wished I knew more. I wished I had more experience. I wished I was coming of age in a more protected environment, enfolded by water-carrying, experienced associates and partners. Then I put my head down and just fought as hard as I could for my clients. That’s legal aid.
That was almost forty years ago. Now I have become one of those old guys who have learned enough to be able to carry some water. Then I got the chance to be a resource for the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky, the Kentucky Equal Justice Center, the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, and West Virginia’s Mountain State Justice as they undertook the fight for these folks. It was an easy call.
I have spectacular teammates in this work. John Rosenberg needs no introduction. The more I get to know him, the more I admire him. Arpit Garg, who is an attorney with WilmerHale in Washington D.C., is likely the most capable attorney I have ever had the pleasure of working with. He has taken my amateurish offerings and put a professional sheen on them that takes my breath away. Ned Pillersdorf, who practices in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, has fought with unquenchable fire for his fellow Kentuckians. Evan Smith, with the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, Anne Marie Regan with the Kentucky Equal Justice Center, and Bren Pomponio with Mountain State Justice remind me of myself from long ago, only they are a greatly improved version.
I thank my law partners at Goss & Fentress, PLC. They have let me go on this very personal excellent adventure without protest, while we also address the mundane necessity of making a living from what we do. I think this ABA Pro Bono Publico Award is the best award I could ever hope to get, and it belongs to them as much as it belongs to me.
Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, Chicago, IL (and other U.S. and international offices)
On behalf of Katten Muchin Rosenman, we are truly honored to receive the American Bar Association’s 2016 Pro Bono Publico Award. While Katten has a long history of providing diverse pro bono services, this award is a special distinction for the firm as it recognizes outstanding commitment to volunteer legal services for the poor and disadvantaged. Katten firmly believes in our ethical obligation to serve individuals and organizations in need and to partner with local legal service providers to ensure access to the justice system. As such, we are privileged to have our pro bono efforts recognized for helping provide legal support to underserved communities.
The Katten Legal Clinic at José de Diego Community Academy, the first legal clinic located in a Chicago Public School, was established with the goal of providing basic legal assistance to members of the school community while supporting education, a cause the firm is passionate about and has long maintained. In close cooperation with LAF (formerly the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago), our Clinic is open on the third Wednesday evening of every month during the school year, addressing legal issues ranging from landlord-tenant disputes and housing matters to wills, expungements, and consumer and family law. Since its launch in 2013, the Clinic has provided legal assistance to nearly 200 people. Last year alone, Katten attorneys and staff provided more than 800 hours of pro bono legal services, including extended representation of many Clinic clients.
Katten also is pleased to be recognized for its nationwide commitment to serving people in need. The firm’s pro bono work includes a range of legal assistance nationally: in Chicago, attorneys have won asylum in the United States for families fleeing ISIS persecution in Iraq and drug cartel persecution in Mexico; in Washington, DC, attorneys regularly provide legal services at a walk-in legal clinic run by the DC Bar; in Charlotte, attorneys formed a partnership with the Safe Child Immigrant Project of Legal Services of Southern Piedmont to successfully obtain custody orders for mothers of unaccompanied minors; in New York, attorneys secured asylum for a Tibetan refugee who was being persecuted by the Chinese government; and in Los Angeles, attorneys secured adoptions for scores of children who were former wards of the state and saved the home of an elderly Alzheimer’s victim from unscrupulous neighbors.
We would like to thank LAF for nominating us for this award and acknowledge the enthusiastic cooperation of the Chicago Public Schools in our Clinic. We also would like to acknowledge the generous letters of support submitted on our behalf by legal aid agencies across the country – Bet Tzedek (Los Angeles), Domestic Violence Legal Clinic (Chicago), Legal Services NYC (New York) and Public Counsel Law Center (Los Angeles). These organizations serve as indispensable pro bono partners, both guiding and inspiring our efforts to create a level playing field for those who cannot otherwise afford an attorney.
Since our founding, Katten’s attorneys have pursued involvement in pro bono projects with the same unwavering dedication, commitment to hard work and legal excellence that they bring to all client matters. Katten backed that commitment by making me, more than 20 years ago, the first law firm partner in the Midwest to focus exclusively on the delivery of pro bono services. With that backing, we have actively nurtured our attorneys’ individual commitment to give their talents for the public good. The outstanding activities recognized by this award represent a fraction of the pro bono efforts provided by hundreds of Katten attorneys each year. The firm is truly honored to receive the 2016 ABA Pro Bono Publico Award, but the biggest honor, and privilege, is being able to help improve the lives of so many.
Renee M. Schoenberg, DLA Piper, Chicago IL
My practice has always been substantially transactional in nature, emphasizing corporate and tax law, closely-held businesses and estate planning. However, I learned a long time ago that I enjoy the challenge of advising nonprofit organization pro bono clients because it provides the opportunity to develop and apply skills in substantive areas of the law I find interesting while allowing me to help the clients fulfill their missions for the ultimate benefit of the larger public.
My introduction to tax-exempt organizations was in the late 1970s, to create and obtain recognition of Section 501(c)(3) status for a private operating foundation and several grant making foundations for a family as an extension of their estate planning. Soon thereafter, I started to do pro bono work, typically to structure and create new nonprofit organizations and obtain recognition of 501(c)(3) status, although sometimes I continued to advise them on governance and other operational matters if I felt connected to their missions. The volume, variety and complexity of my pro bono work grew over time to the point that I now devote nearly half my practice to it, serving as "the lawyer" to three very different small charitable organizations, mentoring or assisting numerous lawyers in the firm on their pro bono matters and providing advice to a number of very large charities and even a United Nations agency. This type of practice has also enhanced my ability to advise business and private clients on substantive charitable matters while being sensitive to the needs and point of view of the donee organizations. Two recent examples are a particular source of professional and personal pride.
I was asked in fall 2014 to assist Georgetown University Law Center, DLA Piper and Arent Fox to create the DC Affordable Law Firm to address the "access to justice gap" which leaves persons overqualified for legal aid effectively without representation in civil matters because they cannot afford the normal rates charged by lawyers. The firm would be staffed by six recent Georgetown Law graduates participating in a tuition-free LLM program and supervised and mentored by volunteers from Arent Fox and DLA Piper. This model appeared to be novel compared to the few other 501(c)(3) "low bono" firms known to the sponsors. My research and experience convinced me—and I convinced the sponsors—that exempt status was attainable with appropriately defined charitable classes, a below-market fee structure, and demographic data supporting the conclusion that the firm was charitable, not commercial. Less than two months after I filed my exemption application, the IRS issued its favorable determination letter—no questions asked—and the firm is now operational.
The other example is Project Exploration, a small-staffed and relatively small budget organization that dreams big which has been my client since incorporating it in 1999. Project Exploration seeks to address issues of equity, access and opportunity in public education and beyond through programs for low-income minority youth and girls from underserved neighborhoods who are enrolled in Chicago Public Schools. It is "changing the face of science" (its tagline) by connecting its students with practicing scientists and other skilled facilitators through personalized out-of-school experiences in science, technology and engineering without regard to the students' academic standing and without cost to participate. It serves on average 900 students annually. Its impact has been pretty incredible: 95% of its students have graduated or are on track to graduate high school; 50% are enrolled in or have graduated from 4-year colleges or universities, with many being the first in their families to attend college; 60% are pursuing, or received their degrees in, STEM; 32% hold science-related employment; and 85% of its students say that the organization introduced them to educational options they had not considered. Project Exploration has received national awards for its work and in 2015 became a member of the National STEM Ecosystem Community of Practice as part of the Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative Strategy. All of this is despite the fact that, in 2012, it experienced a severe fundraising shortfall compounded by both internal issues and difficult legal disputes with large institutional third parties. Project Exploration could not be allowed to fail, if at all possible. Following a very intense, and legal time-intensive, period Project Exploration survived and is thriving.
I would like to thank the ABA and its Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service for this incredible recognition, and to give my sincere thanks to my clients and colleagues who have supported my nomination and especially to DLA Piper for its deep commitment to pro bono. I would also like to dedicate this Award to my late father, Samuel Schoenberg—a brilliant, yet unassuming, transactional lawyer who practiced for over fifty years and whose devotion to client service and his clients was returned in kind—my first, and best, role model.
Hillary Gaston Walsh, The Law Office of Hillary Gaston Walsh, South Korea
I am honored to receive the ABA's prestigious Pro Bono Publico Award. I come from humble beginnings—I grew up poor, lived on a farm in rural Kansas, and was the first person in my family to go to college—so this award is a special milestone for me personally and professionally. Thank you.
Though I'd never met one, my dream of becoming a lawyer began in 6th grade thanks to John Grisham and Hillary Clinton's It Takes A Village. My dream came to life years later, while I was living in Japan due to my husband's assignment there as an F-16 pilot in the U.S. Air Force. He deployed to Iraq for five of our 18 months there, and I spent several of those months apart volunteering in Uganda at an orphanage. In Japan and Uganda, I met women and children who were openly discriminated against and routinely denied access to justice based solely on their gender, sexual orientation, and economic or marital status. When the military moved us to Las Vegas from Japan, I began law school at the William S. Boyd School of Law, hopeful that if I could become a human rights attorney, I could someday advocate for these women and children.
During law school, my passion became focused while working in the immigration clinic, where, under the wing of the brilliant clinic director, Professor Fatma Marouf, I assisted some of the most impoverished, desperate, and neglected members of our society: undocumented noncitizens. My first client was a 14-year-old girl who had been kidnapped and prostituted on the Las Vegas Strip. The stress this caused her mother manifested into Raynaud's disease, an excruciating illness that caused her fingertips to bleed and ache as if they were frostbitten. Though her daughter was now safe, her mother had lost her job because her employer learned she was undocumented; unable to afford food or rent, much less medical care, she was unsure how her family would survive. The T-visa and derivative applications I helped complete were approved, which allowed them to work and access medical benefits. Recently, they applied to become lawful permanent residents.
After graduation, I worked at a leading commercial litigating firm in Las Vegas. Although it wasn't the human rights work I'd set out to do, I enjoyed litigation immensely. Still, I felt most alive when I helped another sex trafficking victim obtain legal status pro bono. Shortly after that case concluded, I read Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In, and I vowed to become a human rights attorney, starting by taking one asylum case within the year. Days later, however, my husband called from Afghanistan, where he was deployed, telling me that he'd received orders to South Korea; we'd be moving there within the year. I was devastated.
Determined to take my asylum case before we moved, I contacted the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project (FIRRP), a renowned nonprofit in Arizona that provides legal services to thousands of detained noncitizens there. FIRRP not only referred an asylum appeal to me, they also helped me navigate this new legal landscape. Fatma, my law school professor, again provided invaluable guidance. Like far too many asylum seekers, this client had been brutally attacked, shot repeatedly, and several of his family members were killed in their Central American home country for his refusal to join the infamous MS-13 gang; this forced him to flee to the U.S. By winning remand, he would get a fair hearing in immigration court, in addition to preventing his errant removal back to his home country (where his persecutors remain). I drafted his appeal at night while my 10-month-old twin daughters slept; days before moving to Korea, FIRRP notified me that I had won remand.
In the two years since moving to Korea, I have taken five more appeals pro bono, three of which were to the Ninth Circuit, and I recently wrote an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court pro bono. These cases all involve clients who have endured horrendous tragedy. One client, for example, fled to the U.S. three times after being raped and impregnated by a gang leader in his effort to "cure" her of her sexual orientation. Not only did immigration authorities wrongly deport her, a bona fide asylum seeker, the immigration court failed to correctly apply the withholding of removal legal standard. Following my appeal, the Board of Immigration Appeals remanded her case for a new hearing, possibly saving her life.
I hope I get to do this work for the rest of my life. For now, I'm still a stay-at-home mom to three girls under three, and I still work at odd hours to meet deadlines. This wouldn't be possible without my husband Shawn's unwavering support (and his orders to Korea). I am forever grateful for both.
The 2015 Recipients Of The ABA Pro Bono Publico Award
Baylor University School of Law
Baylor University School of Law was established in 1857 and was the first law school in Texas. The school has developed several pro bono clinical opportunities for students. Recently, they established a Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals Immigration Clinic to assist undocumented young people with deportation relief. The school's People's Law School offers a half-day program with volunteer lawyers designed to assist the community about their legal rights. The school has a broad pro bono/public service program, which has received recognition for its commitment to providing legal services to the underserved community. Read the Award Recipient Statement from Baylor University School of Law HERE.
Daniel L. Brown
Daniel L. Brown is a partner at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP in the Business Trial Practice Group in New York. He does extensive pro bono work. Brown represented a class of more than 900,000 persons with disabilities in New York City in the case, Brooklyn Center for the Disabled, et al. v. Bloomberg, et al. The case was considered a landmark victory for thousands with disabilities and resulted in the most comprehensive disaster plan aimed at improving the lives of New Yorkers with disabilities. Read the Award Recipient Statement from Daniel L. Brown HERE.
Jones Day is a global legal institution with more than 2,400 lawyers spanning five continents. The firm took up the cause to help in the immigration crisis of unaccompanied children and women fleeing violence in Central America to U.S. borders. Jones Day sent teams of lawyers to military bases where immigrants were held and conducted "Know your Rights" presentations to help screen cases. They also sent teams to detention facilities in New Mexico and Texas. The firm has dedicated nearly 10,000 hours to this project, which is valued at $5 million in fees and has incurred significant costs for travel, experts and incidentals. Read the Award Recipient Statement for Jones Day HERE.
Leslie S. Silverstein
Leslie S. Silverstein is a solo practitioner in Portland, Maine, where she focuses on Social Security disability cases. Since opening her firm in 2001, Silverstein has donated thousands of hours representing low income people without access to civil legal representation. She has represented more than 200 clients over the past seven years through the Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project on the Domestic Violence Panel. She has also volunteered as a trainer for the MVLP program. In this role, she encourages new lawyers to join the Domestic Violence Panel, where she serves as a mentor. Read the Award Recipient Statement from Leslie S. Silverstein HERE.
United Airlines Legal Department
United Airlines Legal Department is headquartered in Chicago and its lawyers have worked diligently to help advance justice for immigrants, especially youth and children. Its pro bono program provides a range of legal services for indigent individuals as well as financial support for legal services. Last year, United lawyers took on an asylum case in response to the Central American crisis of unaccompanied children and women fleeing Central America to the U.S. borders. They helped one teenage girl obtain asylum after she fled Honduras to escape brutal abuse by an older man, and they are seeking asylum for another teenage girl who escaped from domestic violence and a forced marriage in Mali. That case is pending the court's decision
The 2014 Recipients Of The ABA Pro Bono Publico Award
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.
The 2013 Recipients Of The ABA Pro Bono Publico Award
Frank H. Wu, Keynote Speaker
Frank H. Wu is in his third year of service as Chancellor & Dean of University of California Hastings College of Law. He was a member of the faculty at Howard University, the nation's leading historically black college/university, for a decade.
He is the author of Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White, which was immediately reprinted in its hardcover edition, and co-author of Race, Rights and Reparation: Law and the Japanese American Internment, which received a major grant from the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund.
Prior to his academic career, he held a clerkship with the late U.S. District Judge Frank J. Battisti in Cleveland and practiced law with the firm of Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco - while there, he devoted a quarter of his time to pro bono work on behalf of indigent clients. He received a B.A. from the Johns Hopkins University and a J.D. from the University of Michigan.
Bruce B. Blackwell
Bruce Blackwell formerly served on the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar ("BOG") from 1994-1998. He previously chaired The Florida Bar's (TFB) 1986 Mid-Year Meeting, and The Florida Bar Annual Meeting for 1997. He was Co- Chair for the BOG Disciplinary Review Committee, and liaison for the Practice Management Section and The Equal Opportunities in the Profession Committee. During his BOG service, he also chaired The Solo and Small Firm Special Committee. He was previously appointed by the Florida Supreme Court to its Pro Bono Services Committee overseeing pro bono services statewide, and by the former Chief Justice in 1998 to serve on a select committee to study the need for additional District Courts of Appeal. In late 2006, he was appointed by the Chief Justice to serve on the Chief Justice's Advisory Committee for two years and, in June 2007, was named as a Trustee of The Florida Supreme Court Historical Society and served as President from June 2010-11. In 2010, he was named to the United States Eleventh Circuit Court Planning Committee (one of only six private lawyers) for the 2011 meeting of the Eleventh Circuit in Orlando. In 2010-11, he was appointed by the President of The Florida Bar to a small Special Committee to secure adequate funding for the State's Judiciary from the Legislature.
On April 15, 2008, Mr. Blackwell was the recipient of the 2008 American Bar Association's (ABA) Grassroots Advocacy Award for his sustained and effective lobbying efforts to the United States Congress on behalf of the poor throughout the United States. He is the first Floridian to receive this national award. In June 2008, the Florida Council of Bar Association Presidents awarded him the statewide 2008 Outstanding Voluntary Bar President Award, their highest award. Also in June 2008, Mr. Blackwell was the recipient of the 2008 Judge James G. Glazebrook Memorial Outstanding Member Award by The George C. Young First Central Florida American Inn of Court. The award represents the Inn's highest award for service to the law profession and to the Inn. In 2009, he was the recipient of the Florida State University College of Law Alumni Service Award, its highest alumni award for service.
He served from 1998 through 2009 as a member of The Florida Bar Foundation Board of Directors and helped oversee the disbursement of more than 25 million dollars in legal aid grants statewide each year on behalf of the lawyers of Florida. He concluded his term as President on June 30, 2008, and remains an Endowment Trustee through 2013. He previously chaired the Legal Assistance for the Poor/Law Student Assistance Grant Committee, the Budget and Finance Committee, and for several years was Chair of the Administration of Justice Committee recommending grants for systemic legal issues in Florida. In 2002, he received The Foundation's President's Award for Excellence. In June 2011, he received the Foundation's 34th Medal of Honor, given annually to a Florida lawyer who has demonstrated dedication to The Florida Bar's objectives, "...to inculcate in its members the principles of duty and service to the public, to improve the administration of justice, and to advance the science of jurisprudence." It is considered the highest award bestowed by the legal profession in Florida.
He was honored with the 1996 Judge J. C. "Jake" Stone Legal Aid Society Distinguished Service Award which represents the annual outstanding pro bono service award for the Ninth Circuit, and received the President of the Florida Bar's 1997 and 2013 pro bono service award for the Ninth Circuit. He is the first Orange County lawyer twice honored with this award.
The Exelon Corporation, one of the nation's largest electric and gas utilities, prides itself on its commitment to employee volunteer service — a value exemplified by the company's legal department. Exelon's pro bono program is exceptional and worthy of recognition for several reasons. First, Exelon has demonstrated dedication to the development and delivery of legal services to person of limited means through their pro bono program. Second, Exelon has long contributed to significant work toward developing innovative approaches to delivery of pro bono legal services. Third, Exelon has participated in activities that resulted in satisfying previously unmet needs, and finally, Exelon has successfully litigated pro bono cases that favorably affected underserved populations.
Patricia Lee is a partner of the Firm practicing primarily in business and commercial litigation, including, but not limited to, partnership/shareholder disputes, contract enforcement/defense, non-competition agreements, and commercial lease review and litigation, and family law. In addition, Patricia also practices in the areas of trademark registration and litigation, collections, mechanic's liens/foreclosures, and medical claims billing. Patricia's range of experience allows her to manage the legal needs of entrepreneurs and small business owners through the Firm's program entitled The Legal Solution for Entrepreneurs & Small Businesses.
Patricia hails from the small town of Lompoc, California, where she graduated near the top of her class. She attended the University of Southern California and obtained a dual degree in psychology and communications in 1997. During her time at USC, Patricia received several accolades for her academic excellence and dedication to campus and community activism. Among the awards she received were the Thurgood Marshall Leadership Award and Order of Troy for academic achievement. After graduating from USC, Patricia worked for one year as an employee at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, California, and assisted in the establishment of the Rosa Parks Community Computer and Learning Center for inner city youth. She then attended the prestigious George Washington University Law School where she obtained her juris doctorate in 2002. Patricia joined the team of Hutchison & Steffen immediately after her graduation from GWU.
Patricia's dedication to community activism continued at GWU where she was elected as the Community Service Director for the Student Bar Association as well as the Student Director over the Small Business Clinic where she assisted small businesses in economically distressed communities with their legal needs. She also gained valuable legal experience as an intern for the United States Department of Justice, the United States Postal Service, and for a private practitioner focused primarily in employment and labor law, and criminal law.
Today, Patricia serves as a volunteer attorney for the Child Advocacy Program where she represents abused and neglected children in Clark County, Nevada. In addition, she previously served as Treasurer of the Las Vegas Chapter of the National Bar Association, and is the current President of the Las Vegas Chapter of the National Bar Association Foundation. In 2010, Patricia was appointed by Governor Gibbons to serve as Chair of the newly-established Nevada Crime Commission. In 2011, Patricia was appointed to serve as a member of the Self Help Center's Steering Committee by Eighth District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez. In 2012, Patricia began serving on the Pro Bono Advisory Council to support the efforts of Legal Aid Center's Pro Bono Project and she was named Legal Aid's Pro Bono Attorney of the Year. Also, the Las Vegas business publication In Business Las Vegas honored Patricia with its "Women to Watch 2010" award.
When Patricia is not working for the Firm, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Ronnie (a small business owner), and their two children, Brianna and Devin. Patricia also enjoys traveling and reading, and is an avid sports enthusiast.
Leonard, Street and Deinard
Pro bono services have been an important part of the fabric of Leonard, Street and Deinard's firm culture since its earliest days. [In fact, back in 1922, firm founder George Leonard set the stage for a future of pro bono service when he closed the doors of his then-solo practice in downtown Minneapolis to travel to the East Coast for two weeks to represent an indigent client there.] The tradition of pro bono giving continues today, 91 years later. And, each year a new class of attorneys is drawn to our firm of approximately 210 lawyers because of our longstanding commitment to pro bono service, not in spite of it.
Leonard, Street and Deinard's commitment to low-income people is deep and our partnerships are broad. We work annually with the following organizations: Advocates for Human Rights, Project for Pride in Living, Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance, Cancer LegalLine, LegalCORPS, Minnesota Disability Law Center, Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, Children's Law Center of Minnesota, Volunteer Lawyers Network and others. Approximately half of the average, 11,000-13,000 hours donated each year by firm attorneys is given to pro bono work on behalf of these groups. Additionally, 121 non-profit groups received pro bono transactional services in 2012. However, it is the law firm's own Legal Clinic that is solely funded and operated by firm attorneys, that is the signature project and the heart of Leonard, Street and Deinard's pro bono program.
2013 marks the 20th year of service to the patients of the Community-University Health Care Center, located in the heart of the Phillips neighborhood in south Minneapolis. This longstanding partnership services people living in one of the most economically-distressed segments of the Twin Cities population. Back in 1993, responding to the invitation of a pediatrician from the clinic, the firm began helping patients faced with myriad health issues made even more complicated by what for many were life-or-death domestic, housing and immigration issues. Twenty years later, our partnership is still unique. It is one of the first of its kind, a community-based collaboration of law and medicine, that provides holistic services to families. Medical-legal partnerships of this type now number in excess of 75 programs across the nation, but ours
Mr. Trachtman is a litigation partner who focuses on complex bankruptcy and mass tort litigation and also has experience in such diverse civil practice areas as securities fraud, intellectual property, administrative law, and constitutional law.
Mr. Trachtman was one of the principal litigators on behalf of breast implant tort claimants in the Dow Corning bankruptcy, helping to fashion and obtain judicial approval for a $3.17 billion settlement, and continues to represent the interests of tort claimants in the Settlement Facility - Dow Corning Trust, including by serving as lead counsel on several Sixth Circuit appeals on plan interpretation issues. He has played active roles in bankruptcy or class action litigation involving asbestos, diet drugs, and other products; helped represent the creditors' committees in the Chrysler and General Motors bankruptcies; and has represented creditors or creditor groups in such other major bankruptcies as Adelphia and Washington Mutual. Mr. Trachtman also won reversal in the Seventh Circuit of a valuation decision in the United Airlines bankruptcy, more than doubling the recovery of LAX Airport bondholders. Earlier in his career, Mr. Trachtman helped lead a team of lawyers that obtained a $90 million recovery in a contract and securities fraud action arising out of a failed merger between Gulf Oil and Cities Service Corp.
Mr. Trachtman served as Chair of Kramer Levin's Pro Bono Committee from 1994 to 2011. During his tenure, the firm and its lawyers received major awards from the American Bar Association, National Law Journal, New York State Bar Association, and Legal Aid Society. In his own pro bono activities, Mr. Trachtman has litigated extensively in the areas of Social Security disability and civil rights and civil liberties, with a particular focus on LGBT rights (including serving as co-counsel with Lambda Legal in the New York State marriage equality litigation). These efforts helped earn the Empire State Pride Agenda's 2009 Equality@Work Award, given in recognition of the firm's "historic pro-bono litigation" on behalf of LGBT people. Mr. Trachtman has received several individual pro bono recognitions, including the 2005 New York State Bar Association President's Pro Bono Service Award. He was co-founder and a longtime director of Cause Effective, an organization that teaches other nonprofits how to generate human and financial resources, and currently Mr. Trachtman served as Chair of Kramer Levin's Pro Bono Committee from 1994 to 2011. During his tenure, the firm and its lawyers received major awards from the American Bar Association, National Law Journal, New York State Bar Association, and Legal Aid Society. In his own pro bono activities, Mr. Trachtman has litigated extensively in the areas of Social Security disability and civil rights and civil liberties, with a particular focus on LGBT rights (including serving as co-counsel with Lambda Legal in the New York State marriage equality litigation). These efforts helped earn the Empire State Pride Agenda's 2009 Equality@Work Award, given in recognition of the firm's "historic pro-bono litigation" on behalf of LGBT people. Mr. Trachtman has received several individual pro bono recognitions, including the 2005 New York State Bar Association President's Pro Bono Service Award. He was co-founder and a longtime director of Cause Effective, an organization that teaches other nonprofits how to generate human and financial resources, and currently serves on the boards of Legal Services NYC and Volunteers of Legal Service.
Mr. Trachtman has presented frequently at the annual Law Firm Pro Bono Conference of the Pro Bono Institute and has also spoken on panels at the American Bankruptcy Institute's New York City Bankruptcy Conference (presentation on substantive consolidation), "Bridge the Gap" CLE programs for the Practicing Law Institute, and Mealey's Breast Implant Litigation Conference in Palm Beach, Florida. He has written articles and commentary on legal and public policy issues for such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Newsday., and The National Law Journal. and has been interviewed and profiled by the New York Law Journal. and Metropolitan Corporate Counsel. Mr. Trachtman has been listed in Legal 500 US and in several editions of New York Super Lawyers
The 2012 Recipients Of The ABA Pro Bono Publico Award
Guest Speaker at the Pro Bono Publico Awards Assembly Luncheon:
The Honorable Cruz Reynoso
Currently Professor of Law Emeritus at UC Davis, and a former Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, Reynoso is recognized for his leadership in civil rights, immigration and refugee policy, government reform, the administration of justice, legal services for the indigent, and education. Reynoso has served as Vice Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, as well as a member of the Select Commission on Immigration and Human Rights.In 2000, President Bill Clinton honored Reynoso with a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian honor, for his lifelong devotion to public service.
Neal E. Minahan
In only eight years of practice, Neal E. Minahan has accomplished an extraordinary amount of pro bono for a young lawyer. In particular, Minahan has devoted over 2,500 hours of pro bono hours to a series of landmark civil rights cases affecting institutionalized people in Massachusetts. His successful pro bono representations have resulted in broad institutional reforms and have set important precedent for the rights of incarcerated people.
Minahan's pro bono cases have included his fighting for the religious rights of Muslim inmates serving life sentences to securing medical care for a transgender person who was civilly committed as a sex offender. As with many prison cases, his clients' pro se complaints languished for years before they found pro bono representation. In each case, Minahan was able to secure his clients' rights despite fierce opposition and the unpopularity of the cause. One of Minahan's landmark cases spanned half a decade and sparked statewide prison reform. The case involved two Muslim inmates who had filed a pro-se complaint to secure their right to daily Halal meals (meals that meet the dietary requirements of Islam). At the end of trial, the Court issued a decision requiring the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (DOC) to provide Minahan's clients with Halal meals and access to religious services. The ruling led to the DOC revisiting its religious policies and providing Halal meals and religious services to Muslim inmates on a system-wide basis.
Minahan also represented a civilly committed, transgender inmate in her suit to secure prescribed medical treatment for her Gender Identity Disorder. This case was wildly unpopular due to the nature of the treatment and the plaintiff's underlying criminal offense. After years of litigation with complex constitutional issues, Minahan was able to obtain access to treatment for his client. The decision was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit where it was a case of first impression; the case significantly advanced the rights of transgender people and those seeking medical care while incarcerated.
Aside from his pro bono representation of disenfranchised populations, Minahan serves as President and Chair of the Board of BAGLY, Inc., a 30 year old nonprofit organization promoting educational, social and leadership opportunities for LGBT youth in Massachusetts, as well as spearheading state and national advocacy around LGBT youth issues.
Amy Lorenz-Moser has been a tireless and extremely effective advocate for victims of domestic violence for most of her adult life. Her advocacy began in college when she tried to assist a cafeteria worker who she observed being beaten by her abuser. She became a legal advocate when she entered law school at the University of Missouri in Columbia and enrolled in the Domestic Violence Clinic. The Clinic was involved with the Missouri Battered Women's Clemency Project, a collaborative effort of a wide range of organizations. The Clemency Project was working to obtain clemency for 11 battered women and, as a law student, Lorenz-Moser represented one of these women. Her client was granted clemency by the Governor.
The Clemency Project arose out of injustices that occurred in domestic violence influenced murder convictions. Most of these women received sentences of life without the possibility of parole for 50 years. Through the efforts of Lorenz-Moser and others in the Clemency Project, several women obtained their freedom through pardon, parole, or clemency.
Following the passage of legislation that allowed juries to consider battering as a self-defense claim, Lorenz-Moser took on the task of coordinating the clemency effort, through the Clinic at St. Louis University's School of Law. Unfortunately, time and again the Parole Board refused to consider the domestic violence, or wrongfully considered the seriousness of the crime, and refused to grant parole to clients of the Clemency Project. Lorenz-Moser was forced to seek Writs of Mandamus requiring the Parole Board to apply the statute and release her clients. On the third attempt, and after three parole hearings each, the women were finally released. Lorenz-Moser did not stop there. She is now representing two other women who faced unspeakable abuse, feared for their lives, and murdered their abusive husbands. For one of these women, she is garnering public support for clemency through a video explicating the horrendous abuse and the woman's lack of options.
Lorenz-Moser has conducted her advocacy for these women pro bono (often covering the court costs), while simultaneously carrying a demanding private practice caseload and raising a family. She epitomizes the best a lawyer can be - zealously representing those who have few resources and have faced terrible injustice in their lives, and assisting them in finally finding some justice.
LAF, (Legal Assistance Foundation), the largest provider of free legal services to low-income individuals in the Chicago area, refers to Howard Goffen as its most committed, talented, dedicated and selfless pro bono volunteer. Goffen became a pro bono attorney with LAF in 2005 after an illustrious 40 plus year career in the private sector. Over the last seven years, Goffen has given more than 7,000 hours of pro bono legal services to individuals and families from across the Chicago region through his work with LAF. Each week Goffen spends between 20-30 hours working with LAF clients and staff, all of it uncompensated. Goffen essentially functions as an unpaid part-time staff attorney. He has also provided countless mentorship and professional development opportunities for LAF staff.
Goffen increases LAF's capacity to provide quality representation and legal services to Chicago's neediest individuals. He has been primary counsel or co-counseled more than 120 cases with LAF, many of them complicated and time-intensive consumer matters. He has also reached countless numbers of other clients either through the intake process, or by providing advice and brief services.
Recently, LAF underwent a strategic multiyear reorganization. As a result, Goffen is now assigned to the Consumer Practice Group in an office farther from home. Goffen continues to work as he always did, functioning as an unpaid staff attorney. He attends meetings, trainings, task force meetings and maintains a full-caseload. Goffen also agreed to learn bankruptcy law even though he had very little familiarity with it in his prior practice, because of the great need for bankruptcy attorneys. Since the time of his training, Goffen has filed over 40 bankruptcies. Goffen treats each client with whom he works with dignity and respect. He speaks to his clients as partners in solving their legal problem, and with an eye toward empowering them with the tools necessary to avoid consumer fraud and personal debt in the future. The only complaint that LAF has about Goffen is that "there is only one of him." He is described as the embodiment of a model pro bono attorney.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
In 2011, Akin Gump's lawyers, advisers, paralegals and summer associates devoted more than 67,000 hours to the firm's pro bono clients, spread among 815 active pro bono matters. On average, lawyers in the firm's U.S. offices worked 84 hours for pro bono clients in 2011. While the firm's pro bono practice spans many different areas, from representing charter schools and other nonprofit entities to counseling international development organizations, its primary focus is on low-income individuals, both in traditional poverty law matters and in immigration. The firm has shown extraordinary dedication to the most vulnerable members of society, improving its pro bono commitment from 38 hours per U.S. attorney in 2006 to more than 80 hours per U.S. attorney in each of the past four years, with a substantial pro bono practice in each U.S. office. Walmart's legal department has worked closely with Akin Gump over the past two years to develop the first corporate counsel medical-legal partnership (MLP) in the United States. Akin Gump not only helped Walmart structure its in-house pro bono program, but also identified legal services partners and trained Walmart lawyers to serve pediatric patients and their families at Arkansas Children's Hospital. Akin Gump did not limit itself to helping Walmart develop the MLP at Arkansas Children's Hospital. The firm also used what it learned through this experience to develop MLP programs in its New York and Dallas offices.
The firm's marquee pro bono practice is in immigration, working with legal services providers such as the Tahirih Justice Center (DC/Houston), American Gateways (Austin), Human Rights First (NY/DC), Human Rights Initiative (Dallas), Immigration Equality (NY) and the Scholar Rescue Fund (NY). The firm's immigration practice focuses on Violence Against Women Act petitions and asylum. The firm is particularly known for taking on difficult asylum cases, including representing individuals potentially barred from asylum for allegedly providing material support for terrorism. In recognition of the firm's efforts, each of the above organizations has honored Akin Gump for its commitment to refugees in the past three years. Several of Akin Gump's pro bono efforts have expanded legal services to help underserved communities. The firm's work has allowed life-changing organizations such as the KIPP charter schools to obtain valuable legal counsel on a wide range of complex issues and has provided help to members of the U.S. armed forces, who are typically unable to access traditional legal services. Akin Gump has provided more than 13,500 hours of free legal services to KIPP, and through its amazing efforts, has helped to ensure that all children, particularly those from disadvantaged communities, gain access to high quality community schools.
Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Fourth Department
Judicial promotion and support of pro bono can lead to greater access to the court system and a willingness of more attorneys to involve themselves in pro bono. In a time when many judges feel constrained by an erroneous assumption that ethics rules prevent them or their employees from becoming involved in pro bono, the Appellate Division's Fourth Department has set a new model of pro bono engagement. In 2009, the judges of the Fourth Department, under the leadership of Presiding Justice Henry J. Scudder, established the Fourth Department's Policy Statement on Pro Bono Legal and Volunteer Services, the first pro bono policy for appellate court attorneys and staff in New York State. The policy encourages appellate court attorneys to set a personal goal of at least 20 hours of pro bono service per year, in accordance with Rule 6.1 of the New York State Rules of Professional Conduct.
Since the time the policy was implemented, Appellate Department, Fourth Division Court attorneys have provided pro bono service to over 200 low income clients through Volunteer Legal Services Project's (VLSP) Family Law Clinic, Pro Se Divorce Clinic, Alternatives for Battered Women Clinic, Wills Clinic, and Consumer Law Hotline. Court attorneys have also accepted full case referrals in employment insurance benefit denials and wills for seriously ill clients.
The justices of the Appellate Division, Fourth Department timed the implementation of the new pro bono policy with the ABA's first National Celebration of Pro Bono in October 2009. That year, and each year subsequently, the court's judges and lawyers have participated in various ways in this annual event.
The dedication demonstrated by the Appellate Division, Fourth Department attorneys is all the more impressive because they are government attorneys. In general, recruitment of government attorneys is difficult because there is a prevailing attitude that government attorneys cannot do pro bono. Appellate court attorneys are extremely busy. There is no doubt that volunteering at VLSP clinics and accepting pro bono cases pose challenges. However, the Appellate Division, Fourth Division Department Attorneys make pro bono a priority.
In addition to developing and implementing New York State's first pro bono policy for appellate court attorneys, Justice Scudder promoted innovative approaches to pro bono delivery by working with the local county attorney to develop a pro bono policy for Monroe County attorneys. In addition, Justice Scudder, as well as senior members of the Court's staff, readily accept offers to serve as ethics CLE presenters, despite the demands of their schedules. For these reasons, in 2011 the New York State Bar Association presented its prestigious President's Pro Bono Service Award to Presiding Justice Henry J. Scudder and the attorneys and staff of the Appellate Division, Fourth Department.
The 2011 Recipients Of The ABA Pro Bono Publico Award
West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania
For nearly ten years, Elena Park has provided pro bono legal counsel and representation to the indigent on complex immigration matters including work authorization, visa processing, asylum, cancellation of deportation, paths to legalization and raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. She regularly devotes over 200 hours of pro bono time a year to her pro bono immigration practice. As an active member of her firm's Pro Bono Committee and program, she has worked with Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), the Philadelphia Bar Association's Volunteers for the Indigent Project (VIP), and the ACLU.
Park has been driven by the desire to assist the arguably most impoverished, most needy, and least accepted segment of our population -- undocumented aliens. Her fight has been not only to assist in securing legal status in the United States, but also to help develop and support the immigration rights advocacy infrastructure in her community. To that end, she has volunteered a considerable amount of time teaching, educating, mentoring, lobbying and supporting pro bono agencies that help indigent clients on immigration matters.
Park has managed to obtain legal status for clients in extremely difficult cases that no one else was willing to take on. Her efforts have been recognized by the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation (Pro Bono Award 2011), Pennsylvania Bar Association (Pro Bono Award 2007 and 2010, Contribution to the Legal Community 2010) and the media (Legal Intelligencer 2007, Thomas Reuters Dec 2008). She traces her devotion to helping the indigent in immigration matters from her own personal background. A child of Korean immigrants, her parents came to this country with virtually nothing and struggled to make ends meet. Nevertheless, they instilled in her a strong work ethic, a drive for professional excellence, and the desire to help those in need. Park takes great personal and professional satisfaction in helping the needy from around the world achieve the American dream.
Henry Callaway, III
Hand Arendall LLC
In 1989, Henry Callaway was appointed to the Mobile Bar Association's (MBA) Pro Bono Committee. In 1996, he became its president, a post he would hold for seven of the next twelve years. During that time period, he transformed the Mobile Volunteer Lawyer's Project (MVLP). In 1995, the program had 325 participating attorneys; by 2007, the figure had soared above 600. The number of cases referred out to attorneys for action also more than doubled, to 800.
In growing the MVLP, Callaway developed several innovative strategies to raise money and increase visibility. First, he spearheaded the MVLP's change from a committee of the MBA to a 501(c)(3) corporation. He then oversaw the development of a more structured annual private bar campaign touting the tax advantages of giving as well as the needs of the organization and the population it serves. He presided over the MVLP's successful application to become a United Way member agency, which generated tens of thousands of dollars of additional revenue.
Callaway persuaded his firm -- Mobile's largest -- to achieve and maintain 100% participation on the MVLP panel. He developed an intentional and sustained media campaign to promote the MVLP. He also oversaw the creation of a promotional DVD, wrote copy for television and radio public service announcements, and drove around the county identifying promising billboard sites to advertise MVLP services. He also created posters for buses, social service agencies and public schools.
On the state level, Callaway spearheaded the development of user-friendly forms for unrepresented citizens in many areas of the law such as family law and consumer matters. He heads a state bar committee which is working to revise Alabama's court rules to allow lawyers to represent low- and middle-income clients on a limited scope, low-fee basis. Callaway also worked with Birmingham's bar leaders to help that city revitalize its volunteer lawyers program and currently chairs the state's Access to Justice Commission. As a result of the depth and breadth of his work, Callaway was named Alabama's 2010 volunteer lawyer of the year.
The Honorable Jay Zainey
In 2004, U.S. District Court Judge Jay Zainey founded H.E.L.P. (Homeless Experience Legal Protection) to provide pro bono legal services to the homeless community in New Orleans. Working with a local shelter, H.E.L.P. establishes a regularly scheduled clinic to offer free legal services to homeless individuals, provided by volunteer attorneys from firms around the city. As a result of the first program's success, and the commitment of Judge Zainey to promote the model, H.E.L.P. has since expanded to 19 other cities. Judge Zainey personally traveled to each city to start these programs, met with the staff of the homeless shelters and with the volunteer lawyers, and provided free CLE seminars to the volunteer lawyers so that they could be effective legal advocates.
As a result of the H.E.L.P. Program, hundreds of lawyers have volunteered their time and talents throughout the year on a weekly rotating basis at homeless shelters to serve the homeless. Over 450 attorneys currently participate in the program across the country. In addition to his legal advocacy efforts for the homeless, Judge Zainey drives around the city of New Orleans on a regular basis with an ice-chest full of cold bottled waters, fruit drinks and granola bars to track down homeless individuals in order to offer them refreshments or a bite to eat.
Judge Zainey has a strong commitment to pro bono. As President of the Louisiana Bar Association he directed his leadership towards the expansion of private attorney involvement in pro bono to support access to justice. Judge Zainey also created the first State Bar Association Committee in the nation to provide legal referral services for the disabled and created the Community Involvement Committee -- the first state bar association committee of its kind in the country. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his pro bono efforts and his work on behalf of the homeless. He currently is an officer of the Pro Bono Project of New Orleans.
Beyond his pro bono initiatives, Judge Zainey has initiated a number of initiatives in New Orleans geared toward improving the community. One project -- SOLACE -- is a program in which lawyers and other members of the legal community can actively reach out and assist each other in times of personal need or loss. He has also created social service programs to assist the less fortunate. According to Judge Zainey's son, he is a man who lives for others, not himself. He describes how on his father's desk is a taped hand-written note that reads "We are responsible to each other." Judge Zainey has spent his professional and personal life aspiring to this ideal.
O'Melveny & Myers LLP
Since the 1930s, O'Melveny has been at the forefront of a growing pro bono movement in Los Angeles. The firm was one of the first to charter a formal pro bono committee, and in 2006, launched its formal Pro Bono Initiative, solidifying the firm's commitment to pro bono. In 2010, attorneys at O'Melveny and Myers devoted more than 83,000 hours of legal representation to pro bono matters, averaging approximately 120 hours per lawyer. This represented approximately 6.7% of the firm's billable output and involved 75% of the firm's lawyers. In the past year, more than 61% of the firm's attorneys reported doing more than 20 hours of pro bono work. The firm also requires new attorneys to participate in at least one pro bono case in their first year at the firm.
The firm has worked with a large number of pro bono organizations on cases in a multitude of areas. The firm has represented food stamp applicants and recipients leading to a three-year Consent Decree establishing guidelines and deadlines with which Orange County, California Social Services Agency must comply. The firm has also worked with Bet Tzedek, trying to verdict the first case under a new California statue designed to protect victims of human trafficking. The firm's lawyers also assisted Bet Tzedek with obtaining the recovery of substantial reparations from the German government for thousands of Holocaust survivors.
O'Melveny has partnered with Harvard and UCLA Law Schools to provide clinics to students in the area of appellate practice for indigent clients. The firm has also worked on immigration cases for a number of organizations, and has written an extensive training manual to teach pro bono attorneys how to represent detained immigrants in bond hearings, enabling these clients to escape the uncertainty of indefinite detention and to rejoin their families. The firm has worked on cases to promote gay rights, to facilitate adoption proceedings, and to promote the civil rights of prisoners, as well as many other areas of law. The firm has devoted thousands of hours each year to local prosecutors' offices where budget constraints make it impossible for these offices to protect public safety concerns without assistance. O'Melveny also actively involves its corporate clients in participating in its important pro bono work.
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
Paul Weiss has a long history of pro bono work. In 2010, approximately 65% of Paul, Weiss's attorneys performed 54,984 hours of pro bono work, representing approximately 5.5% of the firm's total hours. The firm is one of only five firms that has been on the American Lawyer's A-List for pro bono work from the beginning. In 2010, the firm moved up the A-List significantly, to number six, largely due to a 50 percent increase in pro bono hours in 2009.
The scope of the firm's pro bono work is extensive. Since 2009, the firm has represented clients as part of the City Bar Justice Center of New York's Immigrant Women & Children Project. The firm has also represented immigrant victims of domestic violent crimes and individuals seeking refuge from persecution from their countries of origin.
Paul Weiss also has made a substantial commitment to achieve justice in other areas. For example, the firm, along with other partners, founded a series of Veterans' Legal Clinics in October 2007 to provide free legal advice to metropolitan area military veterans. Paul Weiss also partnered with the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama to provide post-conviction representation to those who have received capital sentences in Alabama. In addition, the firm has devoted significant legal resources to Human Rights First, the Brennan Center for Justice and other groups on important impact matters on such issues as voting rights, same-sex marriage and the right to appointed counsel.
In 2010 alone, the firm and its individual lawyers were honored by The Legal Aid Society of New York City, Immigration Equality, Sanctuary for Families, the New York State Bar Association, DC Appleseed and the City Bar Justice Center for the breadth and scope of its pro bono work.
Real Property Law Group PLLC
The Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service is pleased to present a special Pro Bono Award to Kathleen Hopkins in recognition of her longstanding service to the Pro Bono Committee and her efforts to expand pro bono across the country.
Attorney Hopkins has been passionate about her involvement with the Pro Bono Committee and about the value of the Committee's work to the legal profession and the ABA. She has served two terms on the Committee as a member and has subsequently found her way back to the Committee as a liaison from the Business Law Section, the ABA Board and, most recently, the General Practice, Small Firm and Solo Practice Division.
Champions are driven by something beyond the desire to win. Kathleen Hopkins is a "champion" of the Pro Bono Committee through her commitment and her steadfast support of the Committee's mission. She has been an advocate for the Committee as the center of pro bono activity within the ABA, finding ways to bring the Committee's expertise to enhance the pro bono work of a number of other ABA entities. Her vision, leadership and enthusiasm have resulted in the development of innovative projects and new ways of maximizing ABA resources. Some examples of the impact she has had include:
The Pro Bono Committee is honored to present this award to Attorney Hopkins for her longstanding, ongoing and deep commitment to pro bono legal services for the poor.
2010 ABA Pro Bono Awards
Lan T. Nguyen, Shortt & Nguyen, Houston, TX
After immigrating to this country as a refugee from Vietnam in 1975, and enduring many hardships in that transition, including time in refugee camps and separation from her father who was imprisoned for 10 years in a re-education camp, Lan Nguyen attended college and then obtained both a JD and MBA from University of Houston. Since her admission to the Bar in Texas in 1984 she has made enormous contributions to the legal (and other) needs of low income individuals and families in the Houston area.
Nguyen donates hundreds of hours as a pro bono attorney each year, despite also maintaining a legal practice with her husband. She has been a driving force of the Houston Bar Association's outreach to the Asian American community and a committed volunteer through its Volunteer Lawyers Program. She mentors less experienced lawyers to help make them better able to assist their pro bono clients. She also set up a LegalLine program specifically for Vietnamese residents, co-founded an annual Asian Will-a-thon to provide estate planning documents to indigent Vietnamese, and coordinated a monthly Vietnamese Radio talk show to assist the community with their legal problems. She has translated legal handbooks into Vietnamese, set up legal clinics for the poor in the Asian community, and represented many individuals pro bono in their legal cases.
Nguyen has also done pro bono legal work through the Houston Area Women's Center and through AdvoCourt for Kids, a grant recipient of the ABA Child Custody Pro Bono Project, in which she acts as a children's advocate in divorce and custody proceedings. She has also served as a resource for its volunteer lawyers and for its board of directors.
Nguyen has been the recipient of many awards recognizing her unique pro bono contributions, including the 2007 Houston Bar Award for Outstanding Contribution to Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program by an Individual and the 2007 State of Texas Pro Bono and Legal Services Award. She has established a reputation for never turning down a pro bono case when asked to provide assistance.
David Reiser, Zuckerman Spaeder, LLP, Washington DC
David Reiser's commitment to ensuring equal and meaningful access to justice is manifested throughout his legal career. After graduating summa cum laude from Yale College, Reiser combined his study of law at Yale Law School with volunteer and leadership activities, including as Chair of the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization and Director of the Danbury Prison Project.
Reiser has consistently shared his gifted legal mind to teach and mentor law students and young lawyers. In private practice and as a legal aid volunteer, Reiser continues to mentor young lawyers and assist volunteer lawyers in briefing and arguing appeals, by conducting moot courts and providing his expert guidance on the legal and human aspects of the issues in contention.
In 2004, Reiser was one of the founders of the Barbara McDowell Appellate Advocacy Project, a partnership between his law firm, Zuckerman Spaeder, and the D.C. Legal Aid Society. The Project's goal is to provide high quality appellate representation to indigent civil litigants principally in family, housing, consumer and public benefit cases. The effort has helped to shape the decisional law in the District of Columbia on issues of concern to poor communities, and has had far-reaching effects on the ability of the poor to obtain access to justice and fair legal outcomes. Reiser has devoted over 1000 hours to the Appellate Project himself, and has been involved in reviewing nearly every brief and preparing nearly every oral argument. Some of the cases include advocating for a woman who was convicted of parental kidnapping after she fled domestic violence and arguing in an en banc case for the right of tenants to use the fair housing laws as a defense to eviction.
Reiser's commitment to justice is evident throughout the course of his legal career, and he has received acknowledgment from the Bar and his peers for his efforts. In 2006 Reiser was awarded the Servant of Justice Award from the D.C. Legal Aid Society, for his dedication to and achievements in ensuring equal and meaningful access to justice, and his efforts to ensure the success of the Appellate Advocacy Project.
Sylvia Hardaway Walbolt, Carlton Fields, Tampa, FL
From her first days as a young associate at the Carlton Fields law firm until the present, Sylvia Walbolt has made pro bono a key component of her legal practice. Her pro bono work has ranged from assisting Florida prisoners attempting to prove their innocence through DNA testing, to advocating for prisoners who were subject to poor conditions of confinement in Florida's "Close Management" system, to helping a group of U.S. Holocaust survivors win a settlement against a Swiss Bank. Walbolt has also represented individuals in habeas proceedings and civil rights organizations to defend federal civil rights laws. The depth and breadth of her work is well known to the Florida justice community - so much so that she is frequently called upon by the United Stated Eleventh Circuit and the Florida Supreme Court in assisting with pro bono matters. Walbolt provides hundreds of hours of pro bono service per year.
In addition to her direct pro bono involvement, Walbolt is involved in organizations whose mission is to ensure equal access to justice and promote pro bono participation. She has chaired the American College of Trial Lawyers' Access to Justice Committee, in which she served as the catalyst within the College to implement a program encouraging experienced trial lawyers to take pro bono cases of pubic importance. She is also the former chair of the College's Florida Access to Justice and Legal Services Committee.
Walbolt has worked tirelessly to preserve funding for legal services programs in Florida. She has also been a strong advocate of pro bono within her firm, serving as the first chair of the firm's Pro Bono Committee. She mentors young lawyers about pro bono and urges every practice group to find opportunities to participate in pro bono activities.
For her 45 years of pro bono service, Walbolt has received numerous service awards including the 2009 Medal of Honor Award by The Florida Bar Foundation, the 2009 St. Petersburg Bar Foundation Heroes Among Us Service Award, and the 2008 Tobias Simon Pro Bono Service Award—an award given annually by the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court to the one attorney in Florida who has given the most outstanding service in the area of pro bono.
Bryan Cave, LLP, St. Louis, MO
Bryan Cave attorneys are dedicated to providing pro bono service and ensuring that access to justice is a priority. The firm has a long history of commitment to pro bono efforts. Attorneys in the firm's U.S. offices spent nearly 47,000 hours in 2009 performing pro bono legal services. Bryan Cave provides pro bono legal services across a varied range of areas and approaches this work using creative strategies and teamwork. The firm has recently focused much of its pro bono efforts helping families and communities overcome considerable hardships and legal obstacles. Bryan Cave has handled cases that reunited families, revitalized neighborhoods and kept families in their homes
Bryan Cave has also formed a unique pro bono relationship with Family Equality Council, a national nonprofit organization working to ensure equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families. The firm's LGBT lawyers' affinity group chose to work with Family Equality Council after a year-long vetting process - trying to find an organization that is LGBT focused, non-partisan, humanitarian, has a national footprint and is need of pro bono legal services. The firm and the organization have partnered to undertake a comprehensive research survey of current federal laws affecting LGBT families. In addition, the Family Equality Council's public policy department will leverage the extraordinary gift of Bryan Cave's legal expertise and analysis to pursue opportunities for federal policy reform in this area.
Bryan Cave's pro bono policy is a model for firms nationwide. Initiated in 2006, the policy encourages attorney employees to build on the firm's tradition of pro bono work and community service. Bryan Cave gives full billable credit to attorneys for all pro bono hours, and has established a committee of partners and a group of local pro bono coordinators who are dedicated to developing new opportunities for pro bono work.
The local efforts to select important pro bono work have led to the firm's lawyers being involved in both routine and complicated cases. A recent example of the latter was the firm's success in securing the release of Joshua Charles Kezer, a prisoner who spent nearly half his life in jail for a murder he did not commit. Bryan Cave attorneys spent thousands of hours discovering new evidence and ultimately proving the man's innocence. Through the diligent efforts of Bryan Cave attorneys, Kezer's conviction was thrown out and he is able to restart his life as a free man.
Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, Boston, MA
On February 9, 2010, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law SB 2212, An Act Relative to Harassment Prevention Orders, a seminal legislative accomplishment extending the reach of restraining orders to protect victims of stalking, harassment and sexual assault from perpetrators beyond family members and romantic partners. SB 2212 likely would not have become law if not for the perseverance and expertise of the attorneys of Mintz Levin and the firm's pioneering and pre-eminent Domestic Violence Project, who dedicated hundreds of hours drafting legislation, negotiating with stakeholders and working diligently behind the scenes with the legislature to ensure passage.
The firm has a longstanding and broad-based commitment to pro bono. Notably, in 1990 Mintz Levin established its Domestic Violence Project, conceived though the initiative of two first-year associates, as the cornerstone and focal point of its firm-wide pro bono efforts. Over the past two decades, the Domestic Violence Project has grown into an important national resource in serving the needs of victims, advocates and communities across the broad scope of domestic and sexual violence issues. It has become an essential part of the fabric and identity of the firm, with broad participation in each of its offices, from Boston, to New York and Washington DC and to San Diego.
Mintz Levin's domestic violence work takes many forms. The firm has represented over 750 individual victims of domestic and sexual violence; helped form and served as trusted counsel and advisor to a number of national and local advocacy groups, including the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) and Employers Against Domestic Violence; and provided training and technical assistance on domestic violence pro bono cases to in-house counsel and other attorneys. The firm has authored many amicus and other appellate briefs filed with the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal and state appellate courts advocating for the rights of domestic violence victims, including recent amicus briefs filed on behalf of NNEDV in District of Columbia v. Heller and U.S. v. Hayes. The firm has also provided invaluable assistance and expertise in seeking passage of groundbreaking federal and state legislation, including the federal Violence Against Women Act and the aforementioned Massachusetts Act earlier this year.
Mintz Levin's extraordinary Domestic Violence Project is now well established, but it continues to develop and create means to address and eradicate domestic and sexual violence. As such, it is the model for what a signature pro bono project can accomplish and can strive to become.
The 2009 ABA Pro Bono Publico Award Recipients
Hope Olsson, Rochester, NY
After a long career in the software business Hope Olsson went back to law school in her late 40s. She has done pro bono work since that time. As a small firm attorney at Olsson, Fedder LLP in Rochester, NY, Olsson has counseled over 348 individual clients for the Volunteer Legal Services Project (VLSP) of Monroe's County's Debt Clinic. Through her work with the Clinic, she provides debt management education for low income clients, participates in one-on-one client counseling sessions and accepts bankruptcy case referrals. She was also instrumental in helping VLSP establish the Clinic, a model that is one of the most successful in the region. Olsson continues to provide pro bono legal assistance in bankruptcy cases despite recent changes in bankruptcy law that have made this type of work more complicated for practitioners. She has also staffed a project once per month in the Rochester City Landlord Tenant Court to advise unrepresented tenants appearing in the Court of their rights and has done some pro bono immigration work.
Since 1998, Olsson has also been a member of the Board of Directors for Farmworker Legal Services of New York (FLSNY). She assists the project by helping to ensure that farm workers who have successful claims are compensated even when the employer files bankruptcy. She assists FLSNY staff attorneys in answering legal questions and providing mentoring in bankruptcy litigation.
In 2006, Olsson received the New York State Bar Associations President's Pro Bono Service Attorney Award. She has also been actively involved in the Monroe County Bar Association's Bankruptcy Committee, which addresses issues of process and justice in Bankruptcy Court, and was a member of the Association's President's Commission on Access to Justice.
Gordon P. Erspamer, San Francisco, CA
Gordon P. Erspamer of Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco, CA has been actively involved in pro bono for almost 30 years. Erspamer has received numerous awards during this time honoring his work as a tireless advocate for veterans' rights.
Erspamer's pro bono cases tend to be large in scope, often brought against government institutions to enforce veterans' rights. One of Erspamer's earliest cases involved an effort to declare unconstitutional the $10 attorney fee limitation imposed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2007, Erspamer filed a lawsuit alleging the failure of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and other government institutions to care for veterans who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan and then suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Most recently, he filed an action for declaratory and injunctive relief under the United States Constitution on behalf of a group of veterans who acted as human test subjects for chemical weapons in the late 50s and 60s.
In addition to his impact pro bono work, Erspamer has brought individual cases on behalf of veterans with profound disabilities who were denied benefits. Erspamer has also provided assistance to attorneys and veterans with questions concerning veteran benefits and advice on the Department of Veterans Affairs claims process.
Erspamer has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Contra Costa County Bar Association, where he was a member of the Pro Bono Committee and Chair of the Judicial Evaluations Committee. In 1992, Erspamer was named "Trial Lawyer of the Year" by the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice Foundation in Washington, D.C. Fifteen years later, Erspamer continues his pro bono work to ensure the rights of veterans and mentors numerous attorneys who do work in this area.
Federal Government Pro Bono Program, Washington, DC
The Federal Government Pro Bono Program was originally established in 1996 to comply with an order from then President Clinton which instructed federal agencies to "develop appropriate programs to encourage and facilitate pro bono legal and other volunteer service by government employees to be performed on their own time, including attorneys, as permitted by statute, regulation or other rule or guideline."
Led by the United States Department of Justice, 36 federal government agencies currently participate in the Interagency Pro Bono Working Group. This group was developed to assist federal government agencies with drafting pro bono policies, promoting the federal government's pro bono efforts, and expanding the pro bono program to other agencies and cities. Although the program has been well established in D.C. for over a decade, recent efforts have been made to expand the program to federal agencies in other states. Recently, a pro bono program was launched for federal government attorneys in Chicago that involves a number of local Chicago pro bono organizations.
One of the unique aspects of the program has been its ability to thrive despite the unique challenges facing government attorney who want to do pro bono work. Because government attorneys must provide legal services during their own time, cannot use government resources in providing services, and must be cognizant of job-related conflicts, pro bono work becomes all the more challenging. Yet, despite these obstacles, federal government attorneys have been able to provide pro bono services for a number of local agencies, engaging in such tasks such as providing advice and referrals, litigating civil cases, staffing clinics, and conducting mediation.
Holocaust Survivors Justice Network
In October 2007, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the creation of the German Ghetto Work Payment (GGWP) program to provide a one-time payment of 2,000 Euros to Holocaust survivors who conducted "voluntary" work in German-controlled ghettos. Over the course of the next year, legal professionals in over 30 cities came together who collectively provided over 34,000 hours of pro bono service to survivors, resulting in over 2,000 GGWP applications being filed.
The Network has been called "the largest coordinated pro bono effort in United States history." Never before has such a large group of legal professionals come together to coordinate such a seamless effort to reach individuals in need across the nation. Because of the use of technology and strong coordination among partners, the Network has been able to reach an unprecedented number of survivors in an extremely short period of time. In addition, the Network has been able to identify survivors who were previously unknown to social service agencies or local survivor groups due to their vast marketing campaign and other outreach efforts.
Some of the innovative actions that the Network has taken include visiting survivors in their homes to ensure access to services, holding daylong clinics at a firm, holding several simultaneous clinics in a community, and developing a technological platform to track client assignments and case progress. Currently, there are over 2,600 attorneys participating and there are plans to expand the program to Australia and Canada.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, New York, NY
In 2004, Weil, Gotshal & Manges developed an innovative pro bono policy which requested that every lawyer in the firm perform 50 hours of pro bono work, every partner and counsel take or supervise at least one pro bono matter, and every new lawyer work on at least one pro bono matter. By implementing this policy, the firm nearly tripled its pro bono hours. The firm's US average number of hours per attorney has also reached over 80 hours for the past few years
Weil's involvement in pro bono cases is extensive both domestically and internationally. Some of the firm's more notable efforts include its work with Human Rights Watch to monitor and analyze on a daily basis motion practice and jurisprudence at the International Criminal Court and its work with the Innocence Project in supporting its litigation, administration and policy work.
One of the more unique pro bono efforts of the firm is its participation as the first "beta subscriber" to Pro Bono Net's interactive Pro Bono Manager. This fully integrated online portal, known in the firm as the "Weil Pro Bono Hotspot," serves as a repository of all materials relevant to the firm's pro bono practice. In addition, in 2008 the firm initiated World Pro Bono Week, during which all Weil offices had a special pro bono related event. The firm also sponsors externships of four to twelve month duration at leading public service organizations. Summer associates and retiring attorneys are also urged to continue pro bono work for the firm and Weil partners with its corporate clients on several pro bono projects.
Over the past two years, the firm has received upwards of 20 different awards from programs around the country for its laudable pro bono work. These include the Pro Bono Institute Pickering Award, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Advocate for Justice Award and the Law Technology News Award for Most Innovative Use of Technology for a Pro Bono Project.
The 2008 Recipients of the Pro Bono Publico Award
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.
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.
Some of PIRC's programs include:
Other programs address such issues as prisoner rights, the environment, hurricane assistance, unemployment, human trafficking, homelessness and youth at risk. In addition, PIRC sponsors student internships with non-profit organizations and government agencies throughout the country and awards Stein Scholarships to twenty students in each class year to develop public interest careers.
Fordham University School of Law and its remarkable Public Interest Resource Center supports, trains and educates law students to become lawyers dedicated to the public good. In doing so, they are not only models for other law schools, they are models for us all.
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.
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.
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.
The 2007 Recipients of the Pro Bono Publico Award
Robert E. Borton
Robert Borton has been a leader in the development of pro bono services to the poor for the past three decades, both through his management of his firm's pro bono practice and his individual representation of low income clients. Working with a number of legal services organizations, Mr. Borton has paired many teams of pro bono attorneys from his firm with public interest attorneys bringing civil rights cases and class actions on behalf of immigrants, children and families, women prisoners, and other groups. He has assisted in setting up pro bono legal clinics and has himself contributed hundreds of hours of his own time to representing indigent people in class action lawsuits and individual cases.
Mr. Borton has also been extremely generous with his firm's resources. He has invited young attorneys from legal services agencies to attend his firm's in-house litigation training program, providing them with comprehensive training free of charge. He has also marshaled attorney involvement in activities ranging from research support for policy impact cases to organizing of a team of 13 attorneys in his firm to teach 120 Oakland high school students about civil rights.
In addition to his own handling of pro bono cases, Mr. Borton has made taking pro bono cases an integral part of his firm's training and culture. Mr. Borton is particularly committed to encouraging pro bono involvement among newer associates and engaging his and other law firms to staff clinics and provide resources to legal services agencies. Because of his many years of pro bono service, Mr. Borton has won a number of pro bono awards, including the State Bar of California's President's Pro Bono Service Award, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Robert Sproul Pro Bono Award, the San Francisco Bar Association Award of Merit and the San Francisco Legal Aid Society's Roll Call for Justice Award.
Derfner, Altman & Wilborn
Derfner, Altman & Wilborn is a small firm with a big heart. This Charleston, SC firm is exemplary in its dedication to pro bono, especially in the area of civil rights. This year, two of the individual attorneys in the firm, Peter Wilborn and Jonathan Altman, won South Carolina Bar Association pro bono awards.
The firm's lawyers annually spend more than a quarter of their time on pro bono cases. They specialize in representing community groups in controversies that often end in litigation. Some of their recent projects have involved a successful suit to redraw County Council election districts to end discrimination, a successful suit saving a historic African-American cemetery, and a series of suits that have saved the land and homes of a group of African-Americans who were the targets - and almost the victims - of highly sophisticated real estate scams.
The firm's lawyers work together on all of these issues and they have been recognized for their work by the South Carolina Bar Association, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under Law, the NAACP, and other community and civil rights groups.
Armand Derfner, the founding member of the firm, has always had a passion for defending the underdog. He has particularly focused his efforts on civil rights matters. Mr. Derfner has won numerous cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. He has worked on the Voting Rights Act - litigation and working on legislation - throughout its history from passage in 1965 through the most recent re-authorization by Congress in 2006. In Charleston, he challenged the County Council's at large system of elections, arguing that the system discriminates against black voters. Among other recognition, Mr. Derfner has received the Trial Lawyer of the Year award by Trial Lawyers for Public Justice for his work in the desegregation of Mississippi's university system.
Jonathan Altman focuses on consumer law and personal injury. He leads the firm's efforts representing the victims -- primarily African American -- of real estate scams. He worked locally in a case involving the Remley's Point community, an African-American community in Charleston County, against the sale and development of the community's historic cemetery. After five years of litigation, the case resulted in a verdict permanently protecting the cemetery and dedicating it to the public. He is also involved with housing issues, serving as chairman of a commission that promotes home ownership and works to develop policies to achieve more affordable housing in the Charleston area.
D. Peters Wilborn, Jr. successfully addresses legal need in both the microcosm of local issues and the macrocosm of global human rights. In his practice, he focuses on representation of community groups, labor law and election law. He gives generously of his time to local legal aid groups, informing low income consumers of their rights and training other lawyers to be consumer advocates. Two of his cases that received local and national coverage include his representation of a rural African-American community known as Red Top in its fight against suburban sprawl and his assistance to eliminate blatant racial discrimination by a city and some of its businesses towards African American riders during "Black Biker Week". Mr. Wilborn is also a dedicated cycling and pedestrian advocate, serving on the board of the East Coast Greenway Alliance.
Stephen H. Oleskey
Stephen H. Oleskey is a partner in the Boston, Massachusetts office of WilmerHale. He has been an integral part of the firm's Pro Bono and Community Service Committee since 1969. Mr. Oleskey is deeply concerned with the efficacy of the delivery system of legal services to the poor and committed to fostering the spirit of pro bono in future generations of attorneys.
Mr. Oleskey's pro bono clients and their needs vary widely and illustrate the breadth of his skill. For example, he has been involved in a range of cases such as a three-year on-going New York child custody dispute to acting as lead counsel in the firm's largest and most significant pro bono matter, Boumediene et al. v. Bush, representing six detainees at the United States Naval Base Guantanamo Bay.
Steve's decades of service include significant leadership in various local, national and international legal and social organizations. Whether holding a director or chair position at Boston's most prominent legal service centers or serving as director of Food Corp International, a program that provides research, training and low-cost technology to low income international rural communities, Mr. Oleskey is deeply involved in ensuring access to justice for all.
Mr. Oleskey's dedication to access to justice has been recognized on many occasions. He has been honored with the 1992 Thurgood Marshall Award from the Boston Bar Association, recognized by the International Senior Lawyers Project for his outstanding pro bono services to the Socio-Legal Information Centre in New Delhi, India, received the Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services "Distinguished Service Award" in 2005, and was presented with WilmerHale's own John H. Pickering Award for Pro Bono Activities in 2005.
For four decades, Mr. Oleskey has not only made pro bono representation a priority in his own career, but has also been an inspirational leader. He strives to make a lasting impact on the delivery and quality of services available to indigent clients, undertake high-impact, precedent-setting matters and give a voice to the least powerful in our society.
Sidley Austin LLP
An international firm, Sidley Austin LLP has had a long tradition of pro bono service. The firm's pro bono policy strongly encourages all attorneys to devote time to pro bono legal matters. Sidley places no limit on the number of pro bono hours an attorney can work and strives to ensure that the number of hours of pro bono service equals 3% of the firm's total billable hours.
Over the past decade, Sidley attorneys have provided over 300,000 hours of pro bono legal service and in 2006 alone, provided 75,000 hours on pro bono matters - an increase of almost 50% from 2005. The pro bono legal matters that Sidley has undertaken have varied in scope-from individual cases in areas of child custody and landlord/tenant to U.S. Supreme Court cases potentially affecting millions of people.
In 2005 Sidley initiated a firm-wide death penalty litigation project. In response to the overwhelming need for legal assistance for poor prisoners on death row in Alabama, Sidley attorneys have stepped in to represent an unprecedented 18 death row inmates. Over 112 Sidley attorneys from around the country are participating in this effort and donated more than 18,000 hours of their time in 2006. In recognition of this tremendous contribution, the ABA presented Sidley with its first ever Death Penalty Representation Volunteer Award in 2006.
Furthermore, in 2006, Sidley launched a firm-wide Political Asylum Project to centralize and coordinate the firm's management of asylum cases. Sidley now has a centralized database of materials and attorneys interested in providing representation and provides training and mentoring to its attorneys in this area.
Patricia Yoedicke - ANN LIECHTY AWARD
Patricia Yoedicke is this year's Ann Liechty Child Custody and Adoption Pro Bono Project Award recipient. Ms. Yoedicke is an attorney with Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Since 2000, Ms. Yoedicke has provided close to 800 pro bono hours representing children through the Children's Law Center of Minnesota. These children are state wards whose parents' rights have been terminated. Under Minnesota law, these children are not entitled to representation after the point at which their parents' rights are terminated. Ms. Yoedicke's volunteer representation fills the void for the children she represents. She has often been the most consistent person in these children's lives, and she treats them with respect and professionalism equal to her adult clients.
For each of her child clients, Ms. Yoedicke spends time ascertaining their wishes, explaining available options, consulting with social service providers, and making sure their voices are heard in court. For example, she worked diligently to keep three siblings together in a permanent placement after the proposed adoptive parent decided she only wanted to adopt one of the children. She also represented a child who had contacted the Children's Law Center requesting an attorney to help him get adopted. Ms. Yoedicke was able to successfully assist this child with an adoption placement, helped negotiate a visitation agreement with the child's biological brother, and worked diligently to maintain this placement for the child after the county refused to allow the child to remain in the home. As Ms. Yoedicke says about her pro bono work with children, "The most important message I hope to convey to my clients is that their hopes and dreams can make a difference."
The 2006 Recipients of the Pro Bono Publico Award
Debra Brown Steinberg
Debra Brown Steinberg has led the Cadwalader firm's 9/11 pro bono efforts, providing representation to families of World Trade Center victims. In addition to personally representing several families of 9/11 victims herself, she played a leading role in the creation and development of the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest 9/11 Project in early October 2001.
Ms. Steinberg has also had a role in the drafting and passage of legislation on behalf of victims' families. Specifically, she drafted the Association of the Bar of the City of New York's comments on the interim and final regulations for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and a substantial portion of the 9/11 Victims and Families Relief Act in NY. Furthermore, she drafted substantial portions of legislation to provide legal recognition and protection to family members of non-citizen victims of the attacks - known as the September 11 Family Humanitarian Relief and Patriotism Act - which is currently pending in both the House and Senate.
Ms. Steinberg has received many honors and recognition for her pro bono service including praise by the United States House of Representatives (May 18, 2004) and acknowledgement in a New York State Senate Legislative Resolution (April 29, 2003). Ms. Steinberg also received the New York State Bar Association's 2003 Pro Bono Service Award.
Ward Coe is a partner and head of the litigation department at Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, LLP and has spent well over 1,300 hours working for systemic changes in the delivery of pro bono legal services in Maryland.
Mr. Coe exercised tremendous leadership in encouraging his firm to adopt a pro bono policy and, some years later, to lead his firm's efforts to become the first in Baltimore to dedicate a partner to pro bono service. As a result of Mr. Coe's leadership, the amount of the firm's pro bono legal service has doubled.
In addition to firm leadership, Mr. Coe has provided direct pro bono representation, such as administering trusts for plaintiffs from a 1986 law suit against the state challenging the foster care system. He has also served as a member of the Maryland Judicial Commission on Pro Bono which recommended new state pro bono rules and has chaired the Court of Appeals Standing Committee on Pro Bono Service which is charged with implementing the new rules. He has traveled the state and provided countless hours of pro bono fulfilling the obligations of these roles.
In 2002, Mr. Coe received a Maryland Pro Bono Service Award from the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland for his successful multi-year representation of an impoverished mental health patient who had been denied benefits by his disability insurer. In September, 2005, Mr. Coe received The Maryland Bar Foundation's Professional Legal Excellence Award for the Advancement of the Rights of the Disadvantaged, and in October, 2005, he was selected by a past Maryland State Bar Association President to receive The Pro Bono Resource Center's Pro Bono Legal Service Award.
Richard Zitrin has been a dedicated pro bono attorney providing direct legal services to clients of the Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) of the Bar Association of San Francisco's (BASF) Volunteer Legal Services Program for over four years. He also created the twice-monthly drop in legal clinic at San Francisco's Glide Memorial Church and single-handedly staffs the clinic on a regular basis. In addition to his direct client work, Mr. Zitrin conducts pro bono work on a systemic level - drafting rules, codes and legislation in partnership with bar associations and state governments.
Mr. Zitrin's pro bono commitment has been evident since his graduation from law school. After graduation, he and a group of new attorneys and law students founded the Criminal Legal Aid Collective (CLAC), a nonprofit organization in San Francisco that provided pro bono legal defense services to indigent clients in criminal cases. In total, he worked on thirty CLAC pro bono cases between 1976 and 1981.
Mr. Zitrin is also extremely active in the community and with local, state and national bar associations. He is also the recipient of several awards, including being honored by the Bar Association of the San Francisco's Foundation for volunteer work in 2004, and a Certificate of Merit from BASF for promoting "equality and justice for all" in 2002.
Debevoise & Plimpton, LLP
Debevoise & Plimpton, LLP is an international firm that has set the standard for pro bono. The firm's commitment to pro bono legal service is demonstrated by its consistent ranking among the nation's top law firms for pro bono work. In 2005, Debevoise was ranked number one on the American Lawyer's A List.
Debevoise & Plimpton gets lawyers involved right away upon joining the firm and have taken several different approaches to introduce new lawyers to pro bono. The firm has done extensive transactional pro bono work with numerous non-profit and community-based organizations serving low-income communities.
Debevoise has always taken on important and complex pro bono litigation. Traditionally, the firm has applied its most significant resources in this arena. In recent pro bono cases, Debevoise lawyers have advocated on behalf of clients seeking to assert and defend international human rights, prisoners' rights, voters' rights, labor and employment rights, First Amendment rights and other constitutional civil rights, as well as the rights of individuals with mental illness.
In recent years, Debevoise has been recognized for its outstanding pro bono work by a variety of public interest organizations. In 2005, Debevoise was honored by The Legal Aid Society for its work on prisoners' rights. In 2004, Debevoise was honored with the first Marvin E. Frankel Pro Bono Award by Human Rights First, in recognition of the firm's longstanding commitment to pro bono activities in the field of human rights and, in particular, the firm's work in assisting refugees in seeking political asylum. In 2003, Debevoise was the recipient of The Legal Aid Society's 2003 Pro Bono Publico and Public Service Law Firm Award and was recognized for its pro bono efforts by the Urban Justice Center.
Winston & Strawn - ANN LIECHTY AWARD
In the late 1990's, staff from the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Foundation (CVLS) were appointed as guardian ad litems in a handful of problematic guardianship cases in Cook County. However, by the early 2002, the appointments grew more than the CLVS staff could handle. As a direct result of this development, in late 2002 Winston & Strawn and CVLS formed a partnership that continues to this day. This partnership has benefited both parties, as it allows Winston to have a continuing pro bono opportunity for its lawyers and CVLS a larger staff base to handle the growing number of appointments assigned to them from the minor guardianship courtroom. The significance of Winston's work is twofold: it is being done by partners, and attorneys from practice areas other than litigation are providing representation. Between February 28, 2003 and January 16, 2006, more than 40 Winston attorneys have donated 2,300+ hours as Guardian Ad Litem in 74 cases. Winston is the first law firm to be honored with this award.
The 2005 Recipients of the Pro Bono Publico Award
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, 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.
The 2004 Recipients of the Pro bono Publico Award
- Roy E. Barnes, Atlanta, GA
- Stephen Cullen, Towson, MD
- Kenneth Feinberg, Toby H. Hollander
- Portland, Maine,
- Warren Sinsheimer, New York, NY
- Arnold & Porter LLP, Washington, D.C.
The 2003 Recipients of the Pro bono Publico Award
- Kimball Anderson
- Winston & Strawn, Chicago, IL
- Mary Pat Toups, Laguna Woods, CA
- Jacqueline M. Valdespino
- Valdespino & Associates, Coconut Grove, FL
- Jeffery B. Kindler
- General Counsel
- Legal Division
- Pfizer Inc., New York, NY
The 2002 Recipients of the Pro bono Publico Award
- Michael Miller,, New York, NY
- Luis A. Ochoa, DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy, Tucson, AZ
- Morrison & Foerster, LLP, San Francisco, CA
- Ohio Attorney General Pro Bono Program, Columbus, OH
- Rebecca Rundgren, Shughart Thomson & Kilroy P.C., Denver, CO
The 2001 Recipients of the Pro bono Publico Award
- Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, LLP of Columbus, OH
- Honorable Merrill Hartman of Dallas, TX
- Elizabeth Barry Johnson of Birmingham, AL
- Neil V. McKittrick of Boston, MA
- Marcos & Negron, LLP of New York, NY
The 2000 Recipients of the Pro bono Publico Award
- Anil K. Mehta, Buena Park, California
- Charles Patterson, Los Angeles, California
- Exxon Company, USA Law Department (now ExxonMobile Corporation), Houston, Texas
- Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe, San Francisco, California
- University of Pennsylvania Law School, Public Service Program, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The 1999 Recipients of the Pro bono Publico Award
- Christina Rainville, Peter Greenberg, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Hunton and Williams, Richmond, Virginia
- Jenkins & Mulligan, San Francisco, California
- Merck & Co., Inc., Whitehouse Station, New Jersey
- William S. Harwood, Portland, Maine
The 1998Recipients of the Pro bono Publico Award
- Legal Division of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), McLean, Virginia
- Norlen Drossel, Berkeley, California
- V. Ann Liechty, Billings, Montana
- Vance Salter, Miami, Florida
- Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, Washington, D.C.
The 1997Recipients of the Pro bono Publico Award
- John Chen, Chicago, Illinois
- Allan Gropper, New York, New York
- Holland & Knight, Tallahassee, Florida
- Ann Q. Niederlander, St. Louis, Missouri
- Shea & Gardner, Washington, D.C.
The 1996 Recipients of the Pro bono Publico Award
- B. Riney Green, Nashville, Tennessee
- The Office of the Broward County (FL), Attorney Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Lise M. Iwon, Wakefield, Rhode Island
- Munger, Tolles & Olson, Los Angeles & San Francisco, California
- Rolando Cruz Defense Team (Thomas Breen, Matthew Kennelly, Nan Nolan and Professor Lawrence Marshall), Chicago, Illinois
The 1995 Recipients of the Pro bono Publico Award
- Warren E. George, San Francisco, California
- Amy J. Greer, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- David Schoen, Montgomery, Alabama
- Honorable William VanNortwick, Jr., Jacksonville, Florida
- Jenner & Block, Chicago, Illinois
The 1994 Recipients of the Pro bono Publico Award
- Alston, Rutherford, Tardy & Van Slyke, Jackson, Mississippi
- Andre Dennis, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Douglas Robinson, Washington, DC
- Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Tampa, Florida
- Steel Hector & Davis, Miami, Florida
The 1993 Recipients of the Pro bono Publico Award
- Russell Austin, Sacramento, California
- Covington and Burling, Washington, DC
- Oliver Hill, Richmond, Virginia
- Edward Kelaher, Surfside Beach, South Carolina
- Victor Marerro, New York, New York
The 1992 Recipients of the Pro bono Publico Award
- Suzanne E. Turner, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Douglas Young, San Francisco, California
- Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough, Columbia, South Carolina
- Joseph S. Genova, New York, New York
- Robert E. Juceam, New York, New York
The 1991 Recipients of the Pro bono Publico Award
- Manlin M. Chee, Greensboro, North Carolina
- Edmond M. Connor, Irvine, California
- Amitai Schwartz, Berkeley, California
- Arvin S. Miller, III, Dayton, Ohio
- Hogan & Hartson, Washington, DC
The 1990 Recipients of the Pro bono Publico Award
- Frank X. Gordon, Jr., Phoenix, Arizona
- Judge James Keith (Ret.), Fairfax, Virginia
- John W. Martin, Jr., Dearbon, Michigan
- Helen R. Stone, Boulder, Colorado
The 1989 Recipients of the Pro bono Publico Award
- Benjamin L. Cardin, Baltimore, Maryland
- Carl (Tobey) Oxholm, III, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Joseph T. Pemberton, Bellingham, Washington
- Goulston & Storrs, Boston, Massachusetts
The 1988 Recipients of the Pro bono Publico Award
- Arthur J. England, Jr., Miami, Florida
- Penny L. Parker, Dallas, Texas
- Seth Waxman, Washington, DC
- Allen H. Wernick, New York, New York
The 1997 Recipients of the Pro bono Publico Award
- James J. Brosnahan, San Francisco, California
- Eldon E. Fallon, New Orleans, Louisiana
- Stephen O. Kinnard, Atlanta, Georgia
- Vincent P. McCarthy, Boston, Massachusetts
The 1996 Recipients of the Pro bono Publico Award
- Scott J. Atlas, Houston, Texas
- Robert L. Harris, San Francisco, California
- Dale Reesman, Boonville, Missouri
- Nevett Steele, Jr., Towson, Maryland
The 1985 Recipients of the Pro bono Publico Award
- John G. Brooks, Boston, Massachusetts
- Hon. Howard H. Dana, Portland, Maine
- John D. Elliott, Columbia, South Carolina
- Robert L. Hill, Hartford, Connecticut
The 1984 Recipients of the Pro bono Publico Award
- Herbert L. Ely, Phoenix, Arizona
- Russell E. Carlisle, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- James L. Baillie, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Robinson, Bradshaw and Hinson, Charlotte, North Carolina