Learn more about each 2013 award recipient in the upcoming Pro Bono Super Lawyers Digital Magazine, coming in May 2014. Learn about the Super Lawyers Pro Bono Awards here.
MICHAEL P. PASQUALE
McCarter & English, LLP, Newark, NJ
A partner at McCarter & English, a firm in business for more than 170 years, Michael Pasquale is a member of the firm’s Business and Financial Services Litigation practice group.
In 2013, he represented fifteen wounded soldiers in their Department of Defense medical discharge cases. Through Mr. Pasquale’s efforts, all fifteen received pensions and lifelong healthcare coverage for themselves and their families. His efforts in 2013 yielded 100% ratings for American heroes such as a seven-tour demolitions expert, who defused many explosive devices in intense combat environments, saving countless civilian and soldier lives; and a mortuary affairs officer, who prepared the corpses of his fellow soldiers and friends while dodging incoming mortar. These 100% ratings entitle them to much-needed real estate tax exemptions and tuition assistance for themselves and their families.
In addition to his cases, Mr. Pasquale was involved in training other attorneys and JAG counsel to represent disabled soldiers. Even more, Mr. Pasquale lobbied for a bill protecting the rights of deployed single-parent soldiers, which was signed into law in January 2013.
Fenwick & West LLP, Mountain View, CA
Victor Schachter, a partner at Fenwick & West LLP, is the Co-Chair of the Employment Practices Group, where he represents employers exclusively in employment law, labor relations, privacy, trade secrets, unfair competition, wage/hour matters and related litigation.
In 2013, Mr. Schachter helped to establish and strengthen mediation centers in India and the Balkans through The Foundation for Sustainable Rule of Law Initiatives, a charitable nonprofit corporation he founded. These mediation centers, achieving settlements in the range of 50 to 65 percent in India, reduced backlogged dockets and provided timely access to peaceful dispute resolution by underserved populations. Mr. Schachter is working on expanding these initiatives into Eastern Europe, South America and Asia.
MORRISON & FOERSTER LLP
San Francisco, CA
Morrison & Foerster attorneys contributed over 90,000 pro bono hours in 2013, including over 35,000 pro bono hours by attorneys in the San Francisco office alone. Attorneys there, led by longtime champion of justice, James Brosnahan, were actively involved in the Right to Civil Counsel Movement, which advocates for free legal services in cases involving basic human needs such as housing, custody, safety, and health.
Mr. Brosnahan worked closely with the Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco (“JDC”) and other advocates to encourage San Francisco to become the nation’s first “Right to Civil Counsel City.” This launched a pilot project offering representation to low-income litigants in civil matters involving basic human needs. Morrison & Foerster attorneys worked closely with JDC to help serve its clients through this project, contributing 3,600 pro bono hours to clients referred by JDC and to JDC legal clinics.
With more than 150 attorneys in five offices, Bodman focuses many of its pro bono efforts on Detroit’s homeless, a vulnerable and significantly underserved population.
The firm has the distinction of being the only private law firm in the U.S. that participates in a Street Outreach Court. The Street Outreach Court Detroit (SOCD) is a specialty court of the 36th District court (Detroit’s city court) that helps provide a fresh start for Detroiters who are homeless or at risk of being homeless. SOCD participants follow an action plan intended to address the causes of their homelessness, including activities such as job training and drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Upon completion, participants are granted relief from most of their outstanding civil infractions and misdemeanors. Bodman serves as a member of the SOCD steering committee and also provides pro bono representation to SOCD participants with respect to their outstanding civil matters.
Bodman attorneys also help coordinate and volunteer at both the Detroit chapter of H.E.L.P. (Homeless Experience Legal Protection), a program that holds legal clinics for the homeless at a warming center, and a new legal clinic held at Detroit’s Capuchin Soup Kitchen. Bodman attorneys work with soup kitchens, community crisis centers, and other social service providers to help identify and provide services to homeless or nearly homeless individuals who can benefit from the firm’s legal services.
Student at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, CA
In May of 2013, after realizing the lack of services in Los Angeles for those with HIV/AIDS, Ms. Diven began working with the newly formed Los Angeles HIV Law and Policy Project (LA HLPP) to build alliances within the HIV service provider community in L.A., addressing the legal issues of clients—including discrimination, housing, access to medical benefits and immigration. Ms. Diven is also partnering with the Williams Institute to create a comprehensive information bank of HIV service providers and legal aid organizations to enable better access to services and legal assistance for those living in Los Angeles County.
In addition to her role as the first-ever Law Student Clerk for LA HLPP, Ms. Diven also serves on National LGBT Law Student Congress, the Los Angeles County Bar Association, and the Los Angeles Lesbian and Gay Lawyer's Association. Ms. Diven is an active volunteer and advocate for survivors of domestic violence and individuals facing homelessness.
Student at Villanova University School of Law,
A third year law student at Villanova University School of Law, Vanessa Stine has demonstrated strong support and dedication to immigrant rights.
In the fall of 2012, Ms. Stine started the Notario Fraud Project upon realizing Pennsylvania had no programs dedicated to fighting notario fraud—where immigrants are tricked by non-lawyers who misrepresent their qualifications to provide legal assistance. Ms. Stine recruited and trained volunteers, created a hotline, sought community support, and conducted outreach to find victims. To date, the project has interviewed twenty-four victims, assisted two victims in a civil lawsuit, and referred another eighteen immigrants to non-profit organizations.
Additionally, Ms. Stine was the co-organizer for the Farmworker Legal Aid Spring Break Trip in 2013, focusing on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and tax returns for low-income immigrants. She is also a volunteer with the National Lawyers Guild’s U Visa Project, which assists victims of crime in applying for legal immigration status.
PENN STATE UNIVERSITY, DICKINSON SCHOOL OF LAW
Children's Advocacy Clinic, Carlisle, PA
The Children’s Advocacy Clinic at Penn State University, Dickinson School of Law is an innovative interdisciplinary clinical program where law students, graduate social work students and medical residents work together to represent children and to address broader policy problems in the child welfare system.
Throughout 2013, the Clinic provided legal representation to children who had been abused or neglected, and who were involved in adoptions, dependency, domestic violence cases, and custody disputes. The Clinic also filed amici curiae briefs, and recently argued in a brief that an unhealthy emotional bond between a parent and a child should not prevent a court from terminating a parent’s rights when doing so is in the best interest of the children. The court agreed, and a set of five siblings will now be settled into permanent homes.
University of Denver, Sturm College of Law
Law School Clinical Programs, Denver, CO
Sturm College of Law has six total legal clinics, focusing on civil rights, economic development, civil ligation, criminal defense, mediation & arbitration and environmental law.
When the nonprofit WildEarth Guardians wanted to file a lawsuit against Xcel Energy for alleged failure to monitor and limit emissions from a coal power plant, it turned to the Environmental Law Clinic. In March 2013, with the help of students from the Environmental Law Clinic, the suit was settled for $447,000. Xcel not only agreed to remedy the alleged violations, but has decided to stop burning coal at the plant by the end of 2017. The settlement money went to Groundwork Denver, an organization that provided energy efficiency upgrades to 142 homes, including installation of solar panels on a public building and other environmentally friendly projects.
SAN DIEGO VOLUNTEER LAWYER PROGRAM
San Diego, CA
San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program, Inc. (SDVLP) is a private, non-profit law firm serving low income and disadvantaged women, children and men throughout the San Diego community. More than 500 lawyers, law students and paralegals each year donate their time to work on issues involving domestic violence, child abuse, family law, immigration, housing, guardianship, special education, and assistance for those with HIV and AIDS.
In 2013, the organization helped thousands of domestic violence victims through its three restraining order clinics located at San Diego courthouses, and held its annual women’s resource fair focusing on homeless, battered and indigent women. Ongoing representation in a wide variety of legal areas was also provided to hundreds more clients.
Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.
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