Pro Bono - Organizations NYSBA Honors Individuals, Firms For Their Pro Bono Service

The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) recently honored several law firms and individual lawyers for their efforts in promoting pro bono service by the legal profession.

Presiding at the 15th Annual President's Pro Bono Service Awards was now former NYSBA President Kenneth G. Standard.

Among the individuals cited by Mr. Standard was Jeffrey A. Simes, the pro bono partner at the New York City office of Goodwin Procter LLP where the firm provides at least 3.5 percent of total billable hours annually in pro bono service. Mr. Standard noted that Mr. Simes leads by example.

According to the NYSBA, in 2004, Mr. Simes spent 1,100 hours on pro bono services. As the lead attorney in a class action on behalf of homeless children and parents in Suffolk County, Mr. Simes helped achieve a settlement that ensures that 2,000 children will receive the support they need to attend school.

The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty said that in its 15-year history, no lawyer has been more dedicated in working for the homeless, according to the NYSBA.

Mr. Simes also is being recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA). He is scheduled to receive the ABA's 2005 Pro Bono Publico Award on August 8 at the association's Annual Meeting in Chicago. The ABA Pro Bono Publico Award is presented annually by the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service to honor individuals and legal institutions that have demonstrated outstanding commitment to volunteer legal services to the poor and disadvantaged.

Also recognized as a NYSBA pro bono law firm leader was Jeffrey S. Trachtman, a pro bono partner at the New York City office of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, whose associates lauded him as an inspiring role model who demonstrates that a large firm career can be balanced with true commitment to the poor and disadvantaged, according to the NYSBA.

Also among individuals honored by NYSBA as a recipient of the Hanna S. Cohn Award Young Lawyer Award was Kara Leopold of Nixon Peabody LLP.

Nixon Peabody also was honored as the Outstanding Upstate Large Law Firm (Albany and Rochester offices) for its new pro bono policy providing for 50 billable hours credit for pro bono and for its extensive volunteer service.

Also among the large law firm honorees was Proskauer Rose LLP, which was cited for its pro bono performance: in 2004, 70 percent of its attorneys did pro bono work, averaging 51 hours each, a 34 percent increase in hours since 2002.

The awards selection committee consisted of chairs of the President's Committee on Access to Justice, the Committee on Legal Aid, and the Pro Bono Coordinators Network, as well as the Pro Bono Affairs Director.

Published August 1, 2005.