NEW YORK—More than ten thousand lawyers from around the world gathered at the Hilton Hotel in New York from August 7 to 12 for the annual American Bar Association meeting.
On Sunday August 10, the Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service sponsored a Pro Bono Public Awards ceremony. Three lawyers, a law school and a law firm have been recognized as showing outstanding commitment to volunteer legal services for the poor and disadvantaged.
Craig Cannon of Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice, who served as the National Coordinator of the American Bar Association’s Disaster Legal Services Program, was awarded for his contributions to recovery efforts in New Orleans, where he spent four weeks during the summer of 2006 as a team leader providing direct assistance to Katrina victims. He also provided 700 hours of pro bono work in 2007, in addition to his constant contributions to various local, state and national projects.
When accepting the award, Craig remarked, “If we commit to making pro bono a fundamental component of our professional lives, and we persevere through the tough periods, we will make a difference to those most in need of our help.”
Dean William Treanor and the faculty and staff of Fordham University’s law school in New York were honored for their pro bono work at the Public Interest Resource Center (PIRC). Each year, nearly 500 students serve the public through PIRC, and thousands of PIRC alumni perform pro bono work. These attorneys are from more than 48 states and 41 countries.
“Fordham Law is committed to educating the complete attorney. Our students… through pro bono efforts…learn the craft of lawyering.“ said Dean Treanor
A third individual award recipient was David A Kutik, who has been a leader throughout his 28-year legal career in encouraging and fostering the growth of pro bono commitment law firms in the greater Cleveland area.
He initiated a volunteer program for lawyers called “Our Commitment to Our Community” which resulted in 2,000 lawyers from 28 law firms contributing over 70,000 hours of pro bono service.
When asked why he continues to persevere in his pro bono efforts, he said, “It’s a great feeling of personal satisfaction when I do any pro bono work.”
Sarah Michael Singleton was also awarded for her pro bono work for her leading role in the movement to provide access to justice and legal services to New Mexico’s poor. She played a significant role in persuading New Mexico’s State Legislature to provide $2.5 million in annual funding for legal services for those in need.
When asked how she felt after receiving her award, she said with humility, “I feel sorry. A lot of my colleagues here have contributed so much time to this effort. They should be recognized.”
The final recipient of the pro bono awards was the law firm DLA Piper, which provided over 23,000 hours of pro bono service in 2006. More than 95% of the lawyers in the firm worked at least 20 hours of pro bono in The American Lawyer’s 2007 pro bono survey, making it the #1 firm to provide pro bono service in the AmLaw 200 that year.
Over the past few years, DLA Piper has focused on representing children in legal proceedings by helping court-involved children return to school. “This award only feeds our drive to assist whenever and wherever we can.”