National Law Journal Features Induction of Judges Millett and Small into Akin Gump Pro Bono Hall of Fame

(Washington, D.C.) – The return of Judge Patricia Millett to the Washington, D.C. offices of Akin Gump, if only for one night, was a highlight of this year’s installment of the firm’s annual Pro Bono Awards, held on July 8.

Judge Millett, who left the firm in 2014 to take the bench at the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, and former partner Judge Michael Small, now a judge on the L.A. County Superior Court, were inducted into the firm’s Pro Bono & Public Service Hall of Fame, joining such luminaries as Robert Strauss and Vernon Jordan. The judges were honored for their commitment to, and achievements in, pro bono service during their time at Akin Gump.

Judge Millett, who, while at Akin Gump, held the record for most Supreme Court oral arguments by a female advocate, was lauded for her signature Supreme Court victories in the matters of Yousuf v. Samantar, a landmark case in which the Court found that foreign government officials are not immunized by the FSIA from liability for human rights abuses, and Arizona v. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, a key voting rights case in which the Court decided that Arizona’s requirement that would-be voters provide proof of U.S. citizenship was pre-empted by the National Voter Registration Act.

Judge Small was recognized for having devoted more than 3,300 hours to pro bono clients while at the firm, specializing in complex litigation, including a housing discrimination suit against cities in Antelope Valley, Calif. and a human rights suit against the former president and the former defense minister of Bolivia, among others, in addition to having been counsel on a number of significant U.S. Supreme Court amicus briefs, including United States v. Windsor, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and Hamdi v. Rumsfeld.

In remarks on her induction into the Hall of Fame, Judge Millett said, “It’s a privilege to do pro bono work. It is work that makes the justice system function as we all want it to function, as we dreamed it would function. The reason we went to law school is because we love our judicial system, and we want it to work its best, and there’s no higher privilege than making it work for everybody.”

Regarding the significance of serving pro bono clients, she said, “What makes pro bono exceptional is that people have trusted us to make the legal system work for them. I remember in the Yousuf v. Samantar case, Bashe Yousuf , a victim of horrific torture in Somalia, someone for whom government and courts hadn’t worked, found his torturer living in Fairfax, Virginia, and trusted our legal system and trusted Akin Gump to take his case through that legal system to seek justice. And that is something we have to be grateful for as a firm is the privilege of these clients trusting us with the most important matters in their lives.”

Firmwide and office awards were also presented, including:

  • Office of the Year, won by San Antonio for its lawyers’ extraordinary accomplishments as a focal point for firm efforts to serve Central American women and children asylum seekers being held at a Karnes County, Texas detention center (learn more here)
  • Transaction/Counseling Matter of the Year, won by the D.C.-based team that prepared a report for the Human Rights in Iran Unit of the City University of New York that became part of the dialogue held by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran
  • Litigation Matter of the Year, won by a team from the firm’s L.A. and San Francisco offices, working as co-counsel with a public interest law firm, in a landmark prison conditions case in California that involved four prisoners in a Riverside county jail who filed a lawsuit against the county alleging access to physical and mental health care so deficient it violated the Eighth and Fourteenth amendments.

The complete firmwide and office awards were as follows:

Firmwide Pro Bono Awards

Office of the Year: San Antonio

Local Office Practice Group of the Year: Houston Intellectual Property

Transaction Team of the Year: Human Rights in Iran (Bernd Janzen, Wynn Segall, Nnedi Ifudu Nweke, Michelle Mitchell, Alexis Grant)

Litigation Team of the Year: Gray v. Riverside/Prison Law Office (Shawn Hanson, Danielle Crockett Ginty, Kamran Salour, Nicholas Gregory, Elias Dabaie, Kelsey Morris, Amit Kurlekar, Kimberly La Croix)

Associate of the Year: Sarah Crow (DA Financial Restructuring)

Counsel of the Year: Michael Reeder (HO Intellectual Property)

Senior Counsel of the Year: Michael Cooley (DA Financial Restructuring)

Partner of the Year: Karol Kepchar (DC Intellectual Property)

International Lawyer of the Year: Alan Yanovich (Geneva International Trade)

Diane Streat Award: Lin Lichtenberg and Virginia Brunner (SA)

Pro Bono Hall of Fame: Patricia Millett (DC) and Michael Small (LA)

Austin Office Awards

Pro Bono Attorney of the Year: David Lawrence (IP)

Dallas Office Awards

Pro Bono Attorney of the Year: Michael Brito (COR) and Scott Williams (LIT)

Houston Office Awards

Pro Bono Attorney of the Year: Cynthia Angell (OG) and Roxanne Tizravesh (LIT)

Pro Bono Team of the Year: Asylum for Lancinet Fofana (Ifti Ahmed and Rehan Safiullah)

Los Angeles Office Awards

Pro Bono Associate of the Year: Elias Dabaie (LIT)

Pro Bono Counsel of the Year: Julie Street (COR)

Pro Bono Partner of the Year: Robin Schachter (TAX)

New York Office Awards

Matter of the Year: Allison Scollar v. Brooke Altman (Sean O’Donnell, Dean Chapman, Richard Williams, Jennifer Woodson, Jennifer Cuatt)

Pro Bono Associate of the Year: Carly Weinreb (LIT)

Pro Bono Counsel of the Year: Olivier De Moor (Tax)

Pro Bono Senior Counsel of the Year: Anta Cisse-Green (TAX)

Exceptional Pro Bono Service Award: Frank Singer (LIT) and Toni McBride (TAX)

Philadelphia Office Awards

Pro Bono Attorney of the Year: Marla Axelrod (LAB) and Jason Weil (IP)

San Antonio Office Awards

Pro Bono Attorney of the Year: Holly DeKan (IP)

Washington Office Awards

Stark Richie Award, Associate: Carroll Skehan (LIT)

Stark Richie Award, Associate: Scott Johnson (ER)

Stark Richie Award, Counsel: Jon Goodrich (LIT)

Stark Richie Award, Senior Counsel: Constance O’Connor (PLP)

Stark Richie Award, Partner: Melissa Laurenza (PLP)

Extraordinary Pro Bono Service Award: Katherine Wheeler (LIT)

Extraordinary Pro Bono Service Award: Levick

Pro Bono Team of the Year: Lightfood v. Dahlgreen Courts (Daniel Graver, Stanley Woodward, Abigail Kohlman, Gola Javadi, William Lawther)

Robin Stoeps Award: Washington Conference Services (Shannon Alford, Hazel Butler, Tamara Chambers, Bing Mullins, Nate Rudolph, Martin Sequiera, Sumith Silve, Claudette Walters, Steven Washington)

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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