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October 26, 2009

STATE BAR ASSOCIATION RECOGNIZES THE OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTIONS OF VOLUNTEER ATTORNEYS AT NATIONAL PRO BONO WEEK BREAKFAST

Deputy Mayor Carol Robles-Román, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for New York City Courts Fern A. Fisher and NYSBA President-Elect Stephen P. Younger Honor
Outstanding Lawyers for their Pro Bono Services
 

(New York, New York - October 26, 2009)  With the start of National Pro Bono Week, the New York State Bar Association, the Office of Court Administration, and the Office of the Mayor of the City of New York co-hosted a breakfast at the New York County Supreme Court in lower Manhattan to recognize the legal profession's long and proud tradition of helping those who cannot afford legal counsel. The ceremony is one of many events scheduled during this week-long national celebration being held October 25-31 to honor attorneys for their commitment to pro bono work.  

Keynote speakers included New York City Deputy Mayor Carol Robles-Román, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for New York City Courts Fern A. Fisher and New York State Bar President-Elect Stephen P. Younger (Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP).
 
An initiative established by the American Bar Association (ABA), National Pro Bono Week recognizes the significant contributions made by the scores of attorneys who provide free legal services. National Pro Bono Week also seeks to educate the public and the legal profession about the ever-growing unmet legal needs of low-income people and others who have been hard hit by the economic downturn, and to encourage more attorneys to volunteer.

"At times like these, many New Yorkers are facing significant economic hardships and cannot afford legal counsel," said State Bar President Michael E. Getnick (Getnick Livingston Atkinson & Priore, LLP of Utica and of counsel to Getnick & Getnick of New York City). " I am very proud to be part of a profession where so many feel an obligation to step up and help those who, for instance, may be in danger of losing a home to foreclosure or who are at risk of losing vital government benefits. These volunteer attorneys represent the very best of the legal profession and I want to commend them for their service and for the good that they do in communities across the nation."

"Equal justice for all is one of the bedrock values of our nation," said Chief Judge Lippman. "Although we continually labor toward the establishment of a just society, we still have a long way to go to ensure that every American has truly equal access to justice. I have every hope and expectation that the New York events planned for this first National Pro Bono Week will help focus attention on the pressing legal needs of our fellow New Yorkers -- and showcase the often overlooked generous and giving side of New York's legal community. I am grateful to the New York State Bar Association for their leadership on this important issue."

Honored for their considerable pro bono services that have resulted in thousands of hours of legal counsel to the most vulnerable New Yorkers were the Association of Corporate Counsel; Bank of America; Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP; Greenberg Traurig, LLP; Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP; Latham & Watkins LLP and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP.

On behalf of New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Robles-Román presented the State Bar Association with a proclamation declaring October 25-31 Pro Bono Week in New York City.

"As New York City leads the way in answering our nation's call for a 'new era of service,' it's important to recognize those in the legal community who volunteer their time and expertise to help the most vulnerable New Yorkers," said Deputy Mayor for Legal Affairs Carol Robles-Román.  "The firms honored today have made invaluable contributions to our justice system and by aiding low income residents they ensure that all New Yorkers have access to high-quality representation and a fair and equitable legal system for all."

Ronald Abramson, Esq. (Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, New York, New York), recipient of the State Bar's 2009 President's Pro Bono Service Award for the First Judicial District, was also on hand. Mr. Abramson was honored for his dedication to pro bono, assisting needy clients attain permanent residency, appealing unjust convictions, and even guiding an inventor through the patent and trademark process. 
 
"Today, we as lawyers are reminded of our higher calling to ensure that everyone has access to justice," State Bar President-Elect Younger told the audience. "Giving back to our communities by providing free legal services is the Good We Do. It is not just for one week, but all year long. Given the universal commitment of our profession to do pro bono, it is fitting that we set aside a week each year not only to celebrate and honor the Good that We Do, but also to train and mobilize more volunteer attorneys."

Legal services organizations, local bar associations and law schools will be hosting a variety of events to mark National Pro Bono Week, including free continuing legal education seminars for attorneys who volunteer to accept a pro bono case, legal clinics where persons of limited financial means can receive a free consultation with an attorney volunteer in certain identified areas of law, as well as various receptions where attorney volunteers will be recognized.

A sample of events scheduled to commemorate National Pro Bono Week in New York include:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Bankruptcy Free Advice Clinic -2-4:30pm - Albany & Rensselaer County Courthouses

Have a question about bankruptcy, debtor/ creditor issues. Ask a lawyer. Twenty minute consultations will be provided free of charge to the public. Appointments Required -Space is Limited. To Register: (518) 462-6765. Sponsors: New York State Bar Association, The Legal Project, Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, the Albany County Bar Association, and the 3rd and 4th Judicial District Pro Bono Committees.

Unemployment Hearings & Appeals - Pro Bono Seminar --12:30 -3:30pm - Queens County Bar Association 90-35 148th Street Jamaica, NY. Sponsors: The Queens County Bar Association/Queens Volunteer Lawyers' Project. Contact: Mark Weliky at mweliky@qcba.org.

Thursday, October 29, 2009
Mortgage Foreclosure Workshop - 2-4:15pm -Albany County Courthouse

Worried about foreclosure? Having trouble paying your mortgage? Ask a lawyer or speak with a housing counselor. Twenty minute consultations will be provided free of charge to the public. Appointments Required - Space is Limited. To Register: (518) 435-1770. Sponsors: New York State Bar Association, Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, The Legal Project, Albany County Bar Association, and the 3rd and 4th Judicial District Pro Bono Committees.

To view a full listing of National Pro Bono Week events across New York, please visit  www.nysba.org/probono or visit www.probono.net/ny/calendar/week.2009-10-26. To view a listing of events taking place in various locations throughout the nation, please visit http://www.probono.net/celebrateprobono/featuredevents/.

The State Bar Association also recently launched its The Good We Do campaign, which highlights several personal stories of attorneys providing pro bono service to those in need throughout New York, as well as the many free programs and clinics offered and coordinated by the State Bar Association's Department of Pro Bono Affairs. These stories are featured on The Good We Do Blog at www.thegoodwedony.org

Founded in 1876, the 76,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New York and the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. The State Bar's programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.

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