The Pro Bono Partnership, which provides free business legal services to nonprofit organizations, has named its Volunteers of the Year for 2005: Jason Mark Anderman of Montclair, NJ, Counsel at Becton, Dickinson and Company; Melissa Bellavia of Fairfield, CT, Employment Counsel, at PepsiCo, Inc.; and F. Maureen Duffy of Hartsdale, NY, Staff Counsel-Real Estate, at IBM Corporation. The Corporate and Law Firm Award recipients are the legal department of Sony Electronics, Inc. and the law firm of Winston & Strawn LLP, respectively. The award winners were nominated for their pro bono legal assistance to nonprofit organizations.
The Partnership recruits attorneys to provide free legal advice to organizations serving the disadvantaged or working in the public interest in Westchester County, NY, Fairfield County, CT, and New Jersey. 'The Partnership serves two purposes,' explained Executive Director Rick Hobish. 'We provide important business legal services to nonprofits that can't otherwise afford an attorney and manage pro bono matters for business law attorneys who often have difficulty finding appropriate volunteer opportunities. It's a win-win situation.'
'We have been able to count on Sony Electronics since we opened our Newark office,' said Deputy Director Nancy Eberhardt. Sony volunteers have handled 40 legal matters for Partnership clients since 2000, including a wide range of employment matters, copyright protection, drafting and review of leases, waivers and loan notes, quit claim deeds, incorporations and dissolutions. Sony Electronics' General Counsel Michael T. Williams said, 'This award recognizes a collaborative effort between Sony Electronics lawyers in Park Ridge [NJ] who have actively participated with the Partnership and the efforts of our corporate Community Affairs Department to support the Partnership's financial needs.'
Winston & Strawn, a 152-year-old commercial law firm with offices across the U.S. and in Europe, has received numerous awards for public service and is a charter signatory to the Pro Bono Challenge, which commits firms to substantial pro bono work. Winston & Strawn attorneys have provided free legal advice to the Partnership's nonprofit clients on several dozen matters since first signing up with the Partnership in 2002. Jennifer Staple, Founder and CEO of Unite for Sight, which works to prevent blindness, praised the firm and, in particular, the recent work of Winston & Strawn attorney Jay Gladis of Manhattan. 'In keeping with my expectations of Winston & Strawn, Jay has been an extraordinarily valuable advisor,' Staple said.
Jason Mark Anderman is an attorney at Becton, Dickinson and Company, a leading medical technology company. He specializes in intellectual property licensing, technology contracting, health privacy law and procurement contracting, and he recently prepared a client service agreement for Rising Tide Capital, a nonprofit micro lender in Jersey City. 'He helped us achieve an important program objective, and he made us feel comfortable asking questions and getting exactly what we needed,' said Alex Forrester, Chief Operations Officer. Forrester is very grateful to the Partnership and Anderman for making legal services accessible to organizations which would otherwise be unable to afford them.
Melissa Bellavia of PepsiCo has only been involved with the Partnership for a year and has already taken nine different employment matters. 'She is always attentive and happy to help with matters and the dozens of legal questions nonprofits pose to us by phone each month,' said Deputy Director Maurice Segall. 'Her enthusiasm is contagious.' Just after the Partnership presented its award to Melissa at PepsiCo, her longtime employment law assistant asked to take on a matter under Melissa's supervision, adding a new corporate volunteer to the Partnership's roster. Bellavia said, 'I was concerned when coming in-house, that I would not have opportunities to do pro bono work. The Pro Bono Partnership has made it easy and rewarding.'
Maureen Duffy, who specializes in contracts and real estate at IBM Corporation, has taken on nearly a dozen matters since she first volunteered with the Partnership in December of 2004. One of Duffy's recent clients was the Westchester Institute for Human Development, a new nonprofit serving individuals with disabilities and their families. President & CEO Ansley Bacon praised Duffy, 'Establishing a new non-profit was a daunting task and the lease agreement was critical to our future, so it was very reassuring to know that Maureen had in-depth knowledge that was required. This project turned out to be more complex than we had anticipated, but Maureen skillfully moved things ahead and just got it done.' Bacon said she can't imagine having more responsive representation. 'I have loved helping these clients,' said Duffy. 'It keeps me well grounded concerning the important things of life.'
For more about Pro Bono Partnership, visit www.probonopartnership.org. or contact Lisa Rosenbloom, Director of Development, at (914) 328-0674.
Published June 1, 2006.