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ABA spotlights three individuals, two entities at NYC event celebrating pro bono efforts

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ABA spotlights three individuals, two entities at NYC event celebrating pro bono efforts

By John Glynn

CHICAGO, July 31, 2017 — The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service will present five awards at the ABA Annual Meeting in New York to individual lawyers and institutions in the legal profession that have demonstrated outstanding commitment to volunteer legal services for the poor and disadvantaged.

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Recipients of the 2017 Pro Bono Publico Awards are The Justice Index Team (affiliated with the National Center for Access to Justice at Fordham University School of Law in New York); Erin J. Law of the Morgan Stanley Legal and Compliance Division in New York; the Orrick law firm; Debra Marie Pistorino Parrish of the Parrish Law Firm in Pittsburgh, Pa.; and William A. Waddell, Jr., of Friday, Eldredge & Clark in Little Rock, Ark.

Jonathan Lippman, former chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, will be the keynote speaker at the awards luncheon on Saturday, Aug. 12 at the New York Hilton Midtown.

The Pro Bono Publico Awards are the top honors given by the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, which over the years has spotlighted the pro bono efforts of individual lawyers and small and large law firms, government attorney offices, corporate law departments and other institutions in the legal profession. A look at this year’s winners:0

  • The Justice Index Team, which focuses on assessing state justice systems and their efforts to assure access to justice for vulnerable people. The Justice Index — developed by a team of 13 partnering institutions including law firms, corporate law departments and law schools — 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. The hope is that by promoting self-analysis and making the adoption of best policies highly visible, the index promotes positive change.

  • Erin J. Law, who joined Morgan Stanley as an in-house lawyer, recognized that while the financial firm had a long-standing core value of “giving back” and a history of community service, it had no pro bono legal program. An experienced pro bono attorney in her previous work, Law launched a pro bono program at Morgan Stanley with the encouragement and support of the legal department’s leadership. The program includes a wide range of pro bono opportunities for the department’s lawyers.  

  • Orrick, which considers pro bono work as one of the most important ways to measure its professional success, counted 92,000 pro bono hours for its attorneys in 2016. Among its many pro bono accomplishments, Orrick has helped immigrants secure basic constitutional protections, used innovative financial vehicles to boost nonprofits, provided critical legal help to stop climate change and represented veterans in their quest to obtain benefits and legal rights from the military.

  • Debra Marie Pistorino Parrish, whose small law firm provides legal services in the specialized areas of medicine and science, focuses, among other areas, on advocating with Medicare and private insurance companies to pay for specific technologies and treatments through various legal and administrative channels. Consistent with her commitment to take on at least one new pro bono matter each year, Parrish represented a series of Medicare beneficiaries with Type 1 diabetes so profound that their doctors had prescribed a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to enable them to control and manage their conditions. Medicare denied coverage stating the device was simply precautionary. She eventually persuaded Medicare to provide at least limited coverage for CGMs.

  • William A. Waddell, a partner with one of Arkansas’ largest law firms, is considered one of the state’s leading supporters of access to justice. An experienced pro bono attorney, he is involved in a medical-legal partnership at the Mid-Delta Health Clinic in Clarendon, Ark. The clinic operates on a sliding fee scale and provides medical and dental services, as well as a host of other services, including legal aid. Waddell spends two full days a month meeting with clients, assisting them with a wide range of legal problems.

(Media: Individual pictures of the recipients are available upon request. Please email bill.choyke@americanbar.org.)

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