Akin Gump 2017 Pro Bono Awards Recognize Lawyer, Staff Efforts Firmwide

(New York) – Akin Gump, on July 20, held its annual Pro Bono Awards, recognizing the work done by lawyers and staff as part of the firm’s 80,000+-hours of pro bono legal service performed in 2016.

The firmwide awards event was hosted in the firm’s New York offices by chairperson Kim Koopersmith; pro bono partner Steve Schulman anchored the event in Washington, D.C., with participating offices linked via videoconference. Individual offices also celebrated their own local awards and winners.

The Washington, D.C. office, through its annual in-house auction, raised $23,290— an increase of 231 percent over the amount raised in 2014—to be evenly divided between the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights.

This year, Akin Gump’s New York office held an auction for the first time and raised more than $14,000 to benefit VetLAG (see below).

The individuals, teams and matters recognized at the firmwide ceremonies were:

  • Firmwide Pro Bono Litigation Matter: Washington, D.C. Prisoners’ Rights Parole Hearing Project – recognizing the work done, in conjunction with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, to represent D.C. prisoners who, because the District is not a state, are transferred to federal prisons nationwide, far from their families and legal counsel, and are, consequently, most often denied parole with little explanation.
  • Firmwide Pro Bono Counseling Matter: GlobalParametrics Team – recognizing the work done with GlobalParametrics, a social venture working to create a market for catastrophic insurance formicrolenders in the developing world.
  • Firmwide Pro Bono Associate of the Year: Michael DiLernia – recognizing Mr. DiLernia’s work on behalf of U.S. military veterans, first, by having formed Veterans Legal Advocacy Group (VetLAG), a nonprofit law firm that has represented hundreds of disabled veterans before the Veterans Administration and in federal courts in connection with disability claims, and, then, after joining Akin Gump, for mentoring firm lawyers to undertake VetLAG cases.
  • Firmwide Pro Bono Counsel of the Year: Jennifer Woodson – recognizing Ms. Woodson’s many pro bono engagements, including her work to gain asylum for a Sri Lankan professor, to construct a case against the former defense minister of Somalia, and to spearhead efforts to advocate for inmates unconstitutionally sentenced as children to life sentences without parole.
  • Firmwide Pro Bono Partner of the Year: James Tysse – recognizing Mr. Tysse’s contribution to more than 30 pro bono matters in the last two years, including his victory in a 4th Circuit case reversing decisions by the Immigration Court and Board of Immigration Appeals that ordered the deportation of one of the Central American women being held with her young son at the Karnes Family Detention Center.
  • International Pro Bono Partner of the Year: Rosemarie Paul – recognizing Ms. Paul’s work in developing and strengthening the firm’s relationships with nongovernmental organizations such as Asylum Aid UK, for whom she led a project to represent stateless individuals, and Lawyers Without Borders.
  • Diane Streat Award: Nancy Landaverde – recognizing Ms. Landaverde’s support of the pro bono practice by offering her Spanish-language skills and her compassionate and professional presence to interpret, both in person and by phone for clients, as well as by translating written documents between English and Spanish.
  • Pro Bono Hall of Fame 2017: Kenneth Menges Jr. – recognizing Mr. Menges’ decades of legal counsel and service for pro bono clients, putting to use his corporate law skills and experience in helping organizations survive—and even thrive—after challenging, potentially organization-ending board governance issues.
  • Office of the Year: Philadelphia – recognizing the office’s work on more than 40 significant pro bono matters in 2016, including work to make the logistics of voting easier, to provide intellectual property advice to nonprofits and to represent individuals sentenced as juveniles to life without the possibility of parole, among many other matters.
  • Practice Group of the Year: Investment management – recognizing the funds group’s 2016 organizational best for hours of pro bono work, performed for a wide variety of clients, including veterans and survivor family members, asylum applicants, and nonprofits serving abused children and domestic violence victims.

Founded in 1945, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is a leading international law firm with more than 900 lawyers in offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

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