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July 2, 2012

ABA Pro Bono Publico Awards Honor “Outstanding Examples of Lawyer Volunteers”

The ABA Pro Bono Publico Award

The ABA Pro Bono Publico Award

Three lawyers, a law firm and a state supreme court will receive the 2012 Pro Bono Publico Awards from the _ Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service.

The awards will be presented Aug. 6 at the Pro Bono Publico Awards Assembly Luncheon during the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago.

“Lawyers are making a positive difference every day all across our great nation,” said ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III.Pro bono work is a key component of our legal system, and these good deeds help to fill the void left by devastating budget cuts. Let us celebrate these awardees because they are outstanding examples of lawyer volunteers who make our communities stronger by ensuring meaningful access to justice for thousands of Americans.”

Robinson will present the 2012 awards. The keynote speaker for the luncheon is Cruz Reynoso, a professor of law emeritus at the University of California, Davis, School of Law and former associate justice of the California Supreme Court.

Receiving awards will be Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, a Washington, D.C., law firm; Howard Goffen, Highland Park, Ill.; Amy Lorenz-Moser, St. Louis; Neal Minahan, Somerville, Mass.; and the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Rochester, N.Y.

The Pro Bono Publico Awards honor individuals or organizations in the legal community that enhance the human dignity of others by improving or delivering volunteer legal services to the poor or disadvantaged.

A brief description of the recipients’ pro bono work follows:

  • The U.S. offices of the global law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP devoted more than 67,000 hours to pro bono work, representing an average of 84 hours per U.S. lawyer in 2011, and have increased its pro bono hours by 50 percent since 2006. Akin Gump has represented charter schools, nonprofits and international development organizations, but its primary focus is on low-income individuals, both in traditional poverty law matters and in immigration issues. The firm also established the first corporate counsel medical-legal partnership in the United States by partnering with Wal-Mart to help eliminate barriers to health care.
  • Howard Goffen, the principal at the Law Offices of Howard T. Goffen & Associates, has provided pro bono legal services to low-income and elderly clients in the Chicago area for more than seven years. Goffen devotes nearly 30 hours to pro bono assistance a week. A total investment of nearly 7,000 hours to the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago (now known as LAF) has assisted 160 of its clients, some of Chicago’s most vulnerable citizens.
  • Amy Lorenz-Moser, a partner with Armstrong Teasdale, has provided pro bono legal counsel and representation to victims of domestic violence for most of her adult life. As a law student, Lorenz-Moser worked with the Clemency Project, which focuses on the injustices that occur in domestic violence-influenced murder convictions. She continues to advance the cause for clemency for domestic violence victims through the Clemency Project. Most of those women, who committed acts of violence to protect themselves against their abusers, received life sentences without the possibility of parole for 50 years.  However, through the tireless efforts of Lorenz-Moser and others at the Clemency Project, several women were freed through pardon, parole or clemency.
  • Neal Minahan, a partner with McDermott Will & Emery LLP in Boston, has yielded more than 2,500 hours of pro bono work in eight years, primarily because of a series of landmark civil-rights cases affecting incarcerated people in Massachusetts. His commitment to the civil rights of inmates in the prison system has resulted in broad institutional reforms and has set an important precedent for the rights of incarcerated people.
  • The Supreme Court of the State of New York, Fourth Department, established the department’s Policy Statement on Pro Bono Legal and Volunteer Services, the first pro bono policy for appellate-court lawyers and staff in New York State. The policy encourages appellate-court lawyers to set a personal goal of achieving at least 20 hours of pro bono service per year. Over the last three years, lawyers in the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, have provided pro bono service to more than 200 low-income clients through the Volunteer Legal Services Project’s Family Law Clinic, Pro Se Divorce Clinic, Alternatives for Battered Women Clinic, Wills Clinic and Consumer Law Hotline. Lawyers have also accepted case referrals for employment insurance-benefit denials and wills for seriously ill clients.

More information on the Pro Bono Publico Awards and the 2012 recipients is available here.

Learn More About:  Annual Meeting 2012Pro BonoRobinson, Bill