The New York
State Bar Association (NYSBA) continued its 30-year tradition of honoring
lawyers, law firms, a law student and a civil justice group that have provided
extraordinary pro bono service to those in need at a ceremony and luncheon on
May 1 at the Bar Center in Albany.
President Michael Miller presided over the 2019 President’s Pro Bono Service
Awards ceremony, which is held each year on Law Day, which is observed across
the country with programs focused on education about and celebration of the
rule of law.
“Each year on
Law Day, we honor those whose pro bono work has helped hundreds of people in
meaningful, sometimes life-altering ways,” said Miller. “It is fitting because,
at its heart, Law Day is about the public good and public service. This is the
oath we took when we became lawyers; it is our sacred trust.”
the luncheon included a keynote address by New York State Court of Appeals
Associate Judge Paul Feinman and presentation of the award for Attorney
Professionalism to Peter Strauss, senior counsel at Pierro, Connor &
Strauss LLC. The award is given by NYSBA’s Committee on Attorney
known as one of the pioneers of elder law and an innovative thinker who helped
develop the theory that a spouse’s right to support can prevail over the
state’s right to reimbursement for nursing home care. He is codirector and
founder of the New York Law School Elder Law Clinic, cofounder of the National
Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the National Association of Geriatric Care
Below is a
list of honorees:
1st Judicial District (Manhattan)
Camille Mackler, director of Immigration Legal Policy
at the New York Immigration Coalition, led the trailblazing ‘pop-up legal
crisis response’ at JFK airport during the 2017 travel ban and in 2018 helped
set up the Albany County Jail Detention Outreach Project, which provided legal
assistance to more than 300 immigrant detainees transferred from the U.S.
2nd Judicial District (Brooklyn)
Jonathan Plasse volunteers at Mobilization for
Justice, managing the foreclosure clinic at Kings County Supreme Court.
3rd Judicial District (Albany, Columbia, Greene,
Rensselaer, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster counties)
Sharon Couch DeBonis, a solo practitioner in Troy,
volunteers at the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York’s Attorney for a
Day program, assisting first-appearance clients at Albany City Court and
mentoring and teaching new attorney volunteers.
4th Judicial District (Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton,
Hamilton, Montgomery, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren, Washington
Amanda Rose, a solo practitioner in Mayfield,
staffs the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York’s pro se divorce clinics
in Fulton, Montgomery and Schoharie counties.
5th Judicial District (Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida,
Onondaga, Oswego counties)
Ashley Lyons, an associate at the McClusky Law
Firm, works with the Volunteer Lawyers Project, advising indigent people in
Jefferson County on family court and related matters.
6th Judicial District (Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland,
Delaware, Madison, Otsego, Schuyler, Tioga, Tompkins counties)
Carole Cassidy, senior staff attorney at Crime
Victims Assistance Center, volunteers at Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York’s
Town and Village Attorney of the Hour Eviction Defense Program.
7th Judicial District (Cayuga, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario,
Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Yates counties)
George Forsyth, a partner in Forsyth & Forsyth,
represents pro bono clients through the Volunteer Legal Services Project of
8th Judicial District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua,
Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans, Wyoming counties)
David Whittemore, an associate at Bennett, DiFilippo
& Kurtzhaltz, LLP, works with the Erie County Bar Association Volunteer
Lawyers Project, Inc., concentrating on matrimonial actions.
9th Judicial District (Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland,
Sheila Miller volunteers at the Pace Women’s
Justice Center, focusing on family law issues and supervising law student
10th Judicial District (Nassau, Suffolk counties)
Eve Nowak works with the Pro Bono Project of
Nassau Suffolk Law Services, screening and assessing callers’ legal needs, and
evaluating their eligibility for pro bono representation.
11th Judicial District (Queens County)
Lawrence Fox, partner at Duane Morris LLP, worked
with Mt. Sinai to expand a medical-legal pro bono project to underserved areas
in Brooklyn and Queens.
Large Law Firm
Brown, a global firm committed to pro bono, volunteer in local
communities, with clients from legal service organizations and with the
industries and organizations working on justice issues.
Mid-size Law Firm
Coughlin & Gerhart
LLP loaned enough
new associates to staff the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York new eviction
defense programs in town and village courts.
Small Law Firm
Attorneys at Copps
DiPaola Silverman PLLC volunteer at The Legal Project’s law clinics,
including the pro se divorce clinic where they help train law students and
Law School Group
For 20 years,
Women’s Justice Center Family Court Legal Program has partnered with
non-profits, county and state government and higher education stakeholders to
provide free legal service in Family Court.
Janice Casey Silverberg works at the Pace Women’s Justice
Center Family Court Legal Program, providing legal assistance at the Family
Michael Herberger, a solo practitioner, works with the
Erie County Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyers Project, assisting tenants
Kristin Alvarado, a 3L at Cornell Law School, works
with the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York, helping domestic abuse survivors
get divorces and assisting tenants facing eviction.
About the New York State Bar
The New York
State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the
nation. Since 1876, NYSBA has helped shape the development of law, educated and
informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New
Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.
###Contact: Joan Fucillo [email protected]