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LAS Honors Key Partners at the 2019 Pro Bono Publico Awards Ceremony

Last night, The Legal Aid Society hosted the 2019 Pro Bono Publico Awards Ceremony at the Prince George Ballroom, honoring individual attorneys and law firms for their outstanding and sustained achievements in pro bono services. Each year, The Legal Aid Society works with over 100 law firms across New York City. The firms recognized were nominated by Legal Aid staff in every borough for their exceptional commitment to ensure that no New Yorker is denied the right to equal justice.

Attendees were welcomed by Richard J. Davis, Chair of the Board of The Legal Aid Society, who spoke about the legacy of support of our committed law firm partners. The evening’s keynote address was delivered by Judge Edwina G. Mendelson, the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives. Prior to joining the bench, Judge Mendelson served as an attorney with The Legal Aid Society’s Bronx Civil Division, where she represented indigent clients in Housing Court and in benefit entitlement proceedings.

“We could not possibly do all that needs to be done to provide justice without the critical assistance of law firms, corporations and private lawyers like those we honor tonight, willing to give up their time, their talent, their expertise to help those with unmet legal needs,” said Judge Mendelson.

Lou Sartori, Director of the Pro Bono Practice, served as the Master of Ceremonies and attorneys from across The Legal Aid Society’s five boroughs took the stage to share some of the victories won with the assistance of volunteer attorneys and other pro bono partners.

Each year, The Legal Aid Society recognizes an individual for their exceptional contributions as a pro bono volunteer. This year’s Public Interest Law Leadership Award was presented to Jennifer L. Kroman, of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. Jennifer’s collaboration with The Legal Aid Society’s Exploitation Intervention Project established a ground breaking pro bono project representing survivors of human trafficking seeking the dismissal of prior convictions.

In addition to the individual awards, The Legal Aid Society recognizes a partner law firm with the awarding of The Honorable Jonathan Lippman New York Pro Bono Publico & Public Service Law Firm Award in recognition of its exceptional pro bono commitment to our organization and clients. This year’s award was presented to Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. Under the leadership of Presiding Partner Michael W. Blair, Partner and Legal Aid Society Board Member Mark P. Goodman, and Pro Bono Counsel Jennifer R. Cowan, nearly 100 Debevoise staff provided critical assistance to clients in areas as diverse as immigration defense, disability advocacy, civil rights litigation, criminal appeals, and the preservation of affordable housing.

The Legal Aid Society is proud to recognize the over 4,000 volunteers who donated over 242,000 hours of legal assistance to its clients in the last year. For over 140 years The Legal Aid Society has worked together with the private bar to provide life changing legal assistance and, with their support, continues to deliver “Justice In Every Borough.”

Watch highlights from the evening in the video below.