Arent Fox Announces 2015 Pro Bono Award Winners
“Our commitment to public interest work and ensuring Arent Fox is a leader in the private bar’s mission to address unequal access to legal representation dates back to the firm’s founding,” said Chairman Mark M. Katz. “I would like to congratulate those who are being recognized for their efforts and all of the firm’s attorneys and staff who continue to make public service a core commitment at Arent Fox.”
Receptions were held in Arent Fox’s Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC offices to announce that partners Carolyn Austin, Thomas E. Jeffry Jr., Mark R. Phillips, and Ralph A. Taylor Jr., and counsel Susanna Hathaway Murphy received the Marc L. Fleischaker Award for notable work by partners and counsel. The Albert E. Arent Award for outstanding pro bono achievement by associates and staff went to associate Erin E. Atkins and paralegals Jimeelah Berryman, Jill Clough, Winifred Ng, and Judy Yolles.
As the pro bono counsel and secretary to the board for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games Organizing Committee, counsel Maidie E. Oliveau helped spearhead the legal work behind the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games held in Los Angeles. The Special Olympics is the largest public global health program serving individuals with disabilities, reaching 1.3 million athletes worldwide, and includes more than 100,000 health care professionals who have learned training throughout the event. Forty-five attorneys and paralegals from Arent Fox contributed more than 2,000 pro bono hours to advise on all aspects of employment, health care, promotion, intellectual property, and production issues.
The firm awards focused on the Arent Fox teams who handled employment issues and health care matters for the Committee. Mr. Phillips, helping the GOC staff build up from 0 to nearly 9,000 workers, and then ramp down again at the conclusion of the games. Mr. Jeffry, Ms. Murphy, Ms. Atkins, and Ms. Kelly provided counseling on the health care regulatory issues posed by the services offered by 600 pro bono healthcare providers and by implementing the “Healthy Athletes” program that gave 18,579 free screenings in six disciplines to 5,484 athletes.
Ms. Austin, who was previously honored with the 2014 Cornerstone Award by the Lawyers Alliance of New York, has donated hundreds of hours to provide real estate-related and nonprofit corporate legal services to improve the lives of lower-income New Yorkers. That includes helping in programs for students attending the Harlem Hebrew Language Academy Charter School and Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School, children served by the East Harlem Block Nursery, domestic workers’ rights that are championed by the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and the pregnant and parenting teens who are supported by the Inwood House.
Mr. Taylor was recognized for his efforts over the last decade, where he spent 1,100 pro bono hours, much of it supervising junior associates on first-time litigation cases, on nearly 20 matters that kept tenants facing eviction in their homes, saved immigrants in removal proceedings from being separated from their US families, and helped poor children obtain healthcare benefits. In 2015 alone, Mr. Taylor dedicated nearly 200 hours to represent Street Sense, a nonprofit staffed by DC’s homeless that produces and distributes a weekly newspaper, and 150 hours working to expand the reach of the Homeless Experience Legal Protection program in DC.
Over the last several years, Ms. Berryman, Ms. Clough, Ms. Ng, and Ms. Yolles spent hundreds of hours at DC Family Court helping people with paternity or child support issues find legal representation or self-help legal resources. While taking into account income and residency requirements, the paralegals matchup low-income DC residents with legal aid attorneys who can help. For their consistent efforts helping DC residents get access to legal services, the group was recognized with the Albert E. Arent award.