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ABA to Honor Law Firms and Lawyers for Outstanding Commitment to Pro Bono Representation in Death Penalty Cases

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2012—The _’s Death Penalty Representation Project will honor law firms Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP and Fish & Richardson P.C. for their commitment to prisoners on death row, with the Project’s prestigious Exceptional Service Award. The 2012 John Paul Stevens Guiding Hand of Counsel Award will be presented to George H. Kendall of Squire Sanders LLP.

“This year’s Award winners do more than provide life-saving pro bono assistance,” said Wm T. (Bill) Robinson III, president of the ABA. “They also ensure that our criminal system works fairly for everyone, and their work is a source of great pride for the legal profession.”

The awards will be presented at the Project’s 2012 Volunteer Recognition & Awards Event on Friday, Aug. 3, from 4 – 5:30 p.m. during the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Judge Rosemary Barkett of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, known for her life-long commitment to equal justice, will be the keynote speaker for the event.

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP has provided pro bono legal assistance for inmates on death row since 1988. In total, Bradley Arant lawyers have helped provide representation for 22 prisoners, nearly all of them from the extremely active death penalty jurisdiction of Alabama.

“Bradley Arant’s commitment to fighting injustices in the administration of the death penalty in Alabama has been unwavering and significant. The firm’s diligence and commitment to these clients has been invaluable,” said Randy Susskind, deputy director of the Equal Justice Initiative, explaining his support for the firm’s award.

Fish & Richardson P.C. began its involvement in pro bono death penalty assistance five years ago. Since then, Fish has provided representation for seven death-sentenced prisoners, each in a different jurisdiction. In the first five months of 2012, time spent on death penalty cases accounted for 22 percent of the firm’s total pro bono hours. The award recognizes not only the breadth, but also the depth of the firm’s commitment to pro bono work in death penalty cases.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Kathy Wayland  wrote in support of the firm’s nomination, “The efforts [Michael] Siem and his team [at Fish & Richardson] are making on behalf of their clients are exemplary, and provide a wonderful example of the value of legal firms assuming responsibility for death penalty cases on a pro bono basis.”

George H. Kendall, director of Squire Sanders Public Service Initiative, has spent more than 30 years working to ensure justice for men and women facing a death sentence.  The Guiding Hand of Counsel Award, first given to Justice Stevens in 2011, honors an individual lawyer who demonstrates the kind of courage and commitment associated with Justice Stevens.

To RSVP, go to the 2012 Volunteer Recognition Event page here. Tickets are free to anyone with a valid student ID and those registered for the 2012 ABA Annual Meeting.

With nearly 400,000 members, the _ is the largest voluntary professional membership organization 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.

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