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May 20, 2021

ABA to honor four lawyers, law firm for their contributions with pro bono work

CHICAGO, May 20, 2021 — The American Bar Association will honor four individuals and a law firm for demonstrating outstanding commitment to volunteer legal services for the poor and disadvantaged at a virtual program later this summer.

The Pro Bono Publico Awards represent the top honors given by the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, which over the years has spotlighted 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. This year’s presentation will be Aug. 4 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. EDT on the opening day of the 2021 ABA Annual Meeting, which runs through Aug. 10 with virtual programming.

Individual recipients of the 2021 Pro Bono Publico Awardsare:

  • Cynthia Chandler – director, Bay Area Legal Incubator, Oakland, California
    Since 2015, Chandler has grown the incubator, which coaches diverse attorneys to build successful, affordable law practices serving low and middle-income clients throughout California. Designed to promote diversity in the legal profession while increasing access to justice, the incubator is a project of the Alameda County Bar Association and Legal Access Alameda. Previously, she helped build a movement to challenge state violence and imprisonment, co-founding several groups influencing the Black Lives Matter network. Her decades long work empowering women in prison to challenge forced sterilization is featured in the Peabody-nominated documentary film “Belly of the Beast.”
  • TerryAnn Howell – Nelson Mullins, Miami
    Upon her departure from public service work in 2019 to “big law,” Howell went right back to assisting low-income individuals in need when she began volunteering in the Tenants’ Equal Justice Clinic (TEJC), a project of Legal Services of Greater Miami, and urged other Nelson Mullins attorneys to get involved with the project. Howell also facilitated a Nelson Mullins and Legal Services collaboration to run a statewide COVID-19 Small Business and Nonprofit Clinic through Lawyers for Good Government, growing the collaboration into a three-state Nelson Mullins initiative with 22 firm attorneys volunteering in Florida alone. The effort has been bolstered by the participation of attorneys in other firms.
  • Neal Manne – Susman Godfrey LLP, Houston
    A managing partner of Susman Godfrey, Manne has shown a 40-year commitment to high-impact pro bono work. He has been honored repeatedly for his pro bono leadership, including by the American College of Trial Lawyers, of which he is a fellow. In 2017, Manne’s pro bono work led the publication Texas Lawyer to name him Attorney of the Year. Earlier in his practice, the National Women’s Political Caucus named him a national “Good Guy of the Year” for his successful representation of Planned Parenthood. More recently, Manne won historic reform of Houston’s money bail system and represented two death row exonerees.
  • Rebecca Rapp – Ascendium Education Group, Madison, Wisconsin
    General counsel/chief privacy officer of Ascendium Education Group, a nonprofit committed to improving access and success to education and meaningful employment for vulnerable cohorts, Rapp has had a career of inspiring others to provide pro bono service. She is known for using technology and innovation to increase the reach of pro bono and is involved with a project to provide legal help to technical colleges around Wisconsin, including in rural areas that have been coined “legal deserts” due to their lack of attorneys. Rapp has testified before the Wisconsin Supreme Court to remove limitations on pro bono services. She directly assists clients at legal clinics and serves on committees or boards of several access-to-justice organizations.

The sole legal entity recipient is:

  • Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP – California, Washington, D.C., New York City
    The firm moved quickly after the death of George Floyd to launch the Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) project with Georgetown Law’s Innovative Policing Program. The ABLE Project grew out of an initiative to teach officers how to become active bystanders and intervene to prevent misconduct in the New Orleans Police Department. Its aim is to create a culture of active bystandership, in which officers effectively intervene to prevent officer misconduct, avoid mistakes and promote wellness. The firm successfully litigated cases across California to obtain disclosure of records of police misconduct; executed a plan to manufacture and distribute face shields to frontline workers in Los Angeles; and litigated for voting rights for people with disabilities in two states.

The ABA Pro Publico Awards began in 1984. Past recipients can be found here.

(Media: Individual pictures of the recipients are available upon request. Please email [email protected].)

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews).