2021 Justice for All Award Winners
Outstanding Pro Bono Volunteer Award Winners
Anne Sargent Arcano
Anne Sargent Arcano began her legal career at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, as an associate in its corporate tax practice. After taking time off to raise a family, Anne returned to practice law as a volunteer attorney, first at Lawyers Alliance for New York, which provides business and transactional legal services to nonprofit organizations in New York City. Four years ago, Anne joined the team of volunteers at the Pace Women’s Justice Center.
The Pace Women’s Justice Center (PWJC) is a non-profit organization in Westchester County that provides free legal services to victims and survivors of domestic violence, elder abuse, and sexual assault. PWJC provides a variety of legal services to members of the community, including a Legal Helpline, three Walk-in Clinics, a Family Law Unit, an Elder Justice Unit, and a Sexual Assault Unit. PWJC staff and its more than 60 volunteers provide legal assistance to over 4,000 clients annually.
On the PWJC Legal Helpline, Anne provides information and guidance to callers on a variety of issues. While the vast majority of callers have questions regarding family law, domestic violence or elder abuse, many seek practical information about housing court, negotiating consumer debt, navigating the public benefits system, and understanding wills and advance directives.
Anne also volunteers at PWJC’s Walk-In Legal Clinic, which provides immediate assistance to victims and survivors of abuse on a limited-scope basis by offering free consultations. Clients who have experienced abuse face particular challenges in navigating the legal system and issues pertaining to divorce, child custody and support. Anne works with PWJC clients to make sure their legal decisions are informed, thought out, safe, and well planned, ensuring that clients understand the process, and access the type of services they need in order to live in safety.
Anne graduated from Georgetown University Law Center (J.D., cum laude, Lead Articles Editor, The Tax Lawyer) and New York University (L.L.M. in Tax).
Richard Mancino, Esq.
Richard Mancino is a litigation partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, an international law firm, joining the firm as an associate in 1982. At Willkie, he focuses on complex corporate and commercial litigation, including cases involving cross-border reinsurance and insurance, M&A, and bankruptcy disputes. With a national trial and appellate practice, Richard has appeared before federal and state courts throughout the country, including most of the federal courts of appeals.
Over the course of his legal career, Richard has devoted thousands of hours on pro bono matters, all while maintaining an active litigation practice. He has consistently dedicated himself to fighting injustice for the underprivileged through pro bono efforts on behalf of asylum seekers, the LGBT+ community, unrepresented children, low-income New Yorkers and others. Recently, he led a Willkie team in representing the County of El Paso, Texas and the Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso County v. Trump, in which the district court enjoined President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to misappropriate and misdirect funds to construct a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. He also helped obtain a key voters’ rights win in Richardson v. Texas Secretary of State when a Texas federal court enjoined Texas’s use of signature-matching procedures for mail-in ballots, deeming it unconstitutional. Working with City Bar Justice Center’s Immigrant Justice Project since 2008, Richard and lawyers working under his supervision have won asylum for numerous clients from around the world in complex, challenging cases. He recently partnered with the CBJC in challenging federal regulations on immigration which would redesign the current asylum system and restructure immigration courts, all to the detriment of asylum seekers. Working with the Children’s Law Center, Richard also led a Willkie team in an international child abduction case, successfully advocating that the children should stay in New York with their mother after fleeing an abusive religious sect in Guatemala.
Since the early 1990s, Richard has served as a court-appointed mediator in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, helping litigants settle their lawsuits thereby reducing the courts’ dockets. He is also a member of the board of directors of the City Bar Fund of the New York City Bar Association, which oversees the City Bar Justice Center, among other public service initiatives.
In recognition of his pro bono contributions, Richard has been recognized as an NYSBA Empire State Counsel® honoree for several years. He was also awarded the New York City Bar Justice Center’s Jeremy G. Epstein Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Service and was named a “Lawyer Who Leads by Example” by the New York Law Journal for his “outstanding record of providing crucial legal services to poor or nearly poor New Yorkers.” In 2019, he was shortlisted for “Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year” at the Chambers USA Diversity and Inclusion Awards.
2020 Covid-19 Pro Bono Surrogate’s Court Initiative Award
Gary B. Freidman, Esq.
GARY B. FREIDMAN was graduated from St. John’s University School of Law in 1978 and was admitted to the New York bar in 1979. He received a Master’s degree in Taxation from New York University Graduate School of Law in 1982. Mr. Freidman received his B.A. in Economics from Queens College of the City University of New York in 1975.
From 1979 to 1981, Mr. Freidman served as an appellate law assistant to the Justices of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, Second Judicial Department. There, he was responsible for the preparation of confidential bench memoranda analyzing pending appeals for the Justices. In 1981, he joined Greenfield Stein & Senior, LLP (then known as Greenfield Eisenberg Stein & Senior) as an associate, becoming a member of the firm in 1986. His practice is in trust and estate related litigation. Mr. Freidman has been involved in numerous contested Surrogate’s Courts proceedings, both as an advocate and a mediator and has participated in trials and hearings in the Surrogate’s Courts. These matters involved diverse issues such as the extent to which an in terrorem clause may be enforced, the validity of a charitable remainder unitrust, investment loss disputes, objections to wills and accountings, the jurisdiction of the Surrogate’s Court and the validity of pre-death gifts. In addition, he has been appointed as guardian ad litem to represent the interests of minor children in New York, Westchester, Nassau, Suffolk, Bronx and Kings County Surrogate’s Court contested probate, advice and direction, and accounting proceedings.
Mr. Freidman has lectured on Mediation and Surrogate’s Court matters before the American Law Institute (Representing Estate and Trust Beneficiaries and Fiduciaries 2018); New York State Bar Association (5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th & 17th Annual Sophisticated Trusts and Estates Law Institutes – 2007 to 2019; The Anatomy of an Estate – October 2006; Program Co-Chair; Estate Litigation – December 2002; Sleepless in Boston: Administering the Problem Estate – October 2002, Program Co-Chair; Representing the Fiduciary: The Problems and the Remedies – September 2000; Settling Litigation in the Surrogate’s Court – January 1999, Program Co-Chair; Surrogate’s Court Proceedings – Spring 2000; Administration of Decedent’s Estates and Related Surrogate’s Court Proceedings – Spring 1995); the Association of the Bar of the City of New York (Estate Planning That’s Not Code-Dependent – June 2007; Estate Litigation for Beginners – March, 1999), the Surrogate’s Association of the State of New York, the Elder Law Section of the New York State Bar Association, the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants, the American Bankers Association (Advanced Trust Forum – Summer 2009) and the Richmond and Suffolk County Bar Associations. In addition, he has lectured on Surrogate’s Court and litigation matters at Cardozo Law School and the New School for Social Research.
Mr. Freidman has authored, among other articles, Relief Against a Fiduciary: SCPA 2102 Proceedings, NYSBA Trusts and Estates Law Section Newsletter (Winter 2000, Vol. 33, No.4), Estate Planning in the Face of Divorce: An Ounce of Prevention …, New York State Bar Journal (June 2005) and co-authored Estates with Multiple Fiduciaries Pose Ethical and Practical Issues for Attorneys and Clients Alike, New York State Bar Journal (November/December/2001); Early Detection of Possible Pitfalls in Fiduciary Obligations Can Prevent Later Problems, New York State Bar Journal (January 2002); Assuring the Case You Thought Was Settled, Stays Settled, New York Law Journal, February 21, 2007, p. 3, col. 1; and Trust Contests — The Developing Law, New York Law Journal, April 18, 2007, p. 3, col. 1.
Mr. Freidman is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, a member of the American Bar Association (Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section), the New York State Bar Association (Former Chair, Trusts and Estates Law Section; Former Chair, Estate Litigation and Legislation Committees), the Association of the Bar of the City of New York (Committee on Trusts, Estates and Surrogate’s Courts) and the Westchester County Bar Association.
Erica Gomez, Esq.
Erica Gómez, Esq. is a court attorney at the New York County Surrogate’s Court, where she directs the Help Center for self-represented litigants. The primary goals of the Help Center are to provide patrons with legal and procedural information, and to assist them with the completion of paperwork in certain Surrogate’s Court proceedings. Prior to this, Ms. Gómez was first a Staff Attorney and then General Counsel for The Family Center, a non-profit organization helping vulnerable New York City residents. During her time there, she litigated mainly in the areas of family, matrimonial, and landlord-tenant law but was also able to expand the organization’s Article 17A and Estate Planning practice. Ms. Gómez received her B.A. from Fordham University and her J.D. from the Fordham University School of Law. She is licensed to practice in New York, New Jersey, and in the District of Columbia. As a member of the New York City Bar Association, she currently serves on the Association’s Legal Referral Service Committee. She is also a frequent speaker at events for law students and recent law graduates.
Law Firm Honorees
Through our innovative, award-winning pro bono program, all of our full-time attorneys provide free legal assistance to low-income individuals and organizations that assist them, helping to navigate issues related to immigration, housing, women’s rights, prisoners’ rights, community building, and economic development, among others.
In the last three years, Barclay Damon achieved 100-percent participation in its pro bono program among fulltime attorneys in each of the firm’s offices. This past year, attorneys completed over 3,500 hours of pro bono service valued at nearly $1 million.
Representative pro bono activities include the following examples:
- The American Bar Association’s Free Legal Answers virtual legal advice clinic, which allows qualified
users to post civil legal questions through their state bar website
- The NYS Appellate Division Pro Bono Appeals Program, which involves preparing and filing appeals
of criminal convictions
- The Volunteer Lawyers Project Attorney of the Morning Program, which offers legal representation to
low-income individuals facing eviction
- The Say Yes to Education program, including staffing a clinic at the district’s Adult Literacy Center
- The Volunteer Legal Services Project Attorney Hot Line Program, which involves providing legal advice and counsel to low-income individuals with consumer-law related issues, including deed transfers, frozen bank accounts, name changes, probate, and tax and IRS issues
The mission of Copps DiPaola Silverman, PLLC is to provide skilled advocacy and knowledge to our Clients in the cutting edge areas of Family Law, Adoption, Surrogacy, Assisted Reproduction Technology, Estate Planning & Probate and Guardianship. We bring those very same principals to our community, through pro bono advocacy for the underserved populations throughout the Capital District of New York. This year has been a year to remember for pro bono service. When the pandemic struck and our community was most in need, our entire office stepped up. We knew the litigants most in need of legal assistance were having great difficulty accessing attorneys for legal advice and they were not understanding how to access the courts during the pandemic. With this in mind, Partner Lorraine R. Silverman, Chair of the Albany County Bar Association’s Pro Bono Committee, enlisted our firm to help. We partnered with the Albany County Bar Association, Albany County Family Court, and our 3rd JD Law Librarians to ensure the Help Center remained open, we brought the Albany County Family Court Help Center temporarily in-house to our firm and created a virtual Help Center, we recruited volunteers from the Albany County Bar Association Membership, set up a calendar and immediately began providing free virtual legal consultation appointments to family court litigants in need of assistance. Our paralegal manages the Help Center calendar today and all of our attorneys, along with a number of ACBA member volunteers, continue to volunteer their time to staff the virtual Help Center. In addition to the Help Center work, this year like every other, our Attorneys have provided countless hours of direct pro bono services to helping survivors of domestic violence secure civil orders of protection, divorce their abusers, obtain custody of their children, and to secure child and spousal support, which all helped further their safety and independence. We care. We are committed to ensuring justice for all.
Kirkland & Ellis LLP is committed to providing legal services without charge to those who cannot afford counsel, with the goals of improving lives, bettering communities and deepening our professional experience. We are united as a firm in our efforts to make a meaningful difference in many critical areas, including civil and human rights, criminal appeals, disability rights, anti-discrimination, immigration, nonprofit governance, support for small businesses, education access and rights, and veterans’ benefits, among others — with the common goal of serving the communities in which we live and work. Through pro bono work, almost all our lawyers at every level of the firm in all practice areas make their skills and talents available to those who cannot afford legal representation. We provide pro bono clients with the same commitment and diligence we show for our paying clients. Drawing from our diversity of backgrounds, strengths and experiences, we pursue these projects with enthusiasm, to foster a more equitable and inclusive world.
Paul, Weiss is committed to providing impactful pro bono legal assistance to individuals and organizations in need. Our program is all-encompassing, spanning the core issues facing our society.
In naming it “Law Firm of the Year” in 2019, The American Lawyer called out Paul, Weiss’s remarkable pro bono commitment, noting that it is “all-encompassing, spanning all of the core issues currently facing our society.”
Throughout our firm’s history, we have maintained an unwavering commitment to providing pro bono legal assistance to the most vulnerable members of our society and in support of the public interest. This commitment is a part of the firm’s identity, and is embraced by every member of the Paul, Weiss community, from the most senior leaders across all departments to the summer associates who join us each year.
From helping Thurgood Marshall reverse the doctrine of “separate but equal” in Brown v. Board of Education to representing Edith Windsor in challenging the Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor, our attorneys have achieved landmark victories in civil rights cases that have changed society for the better. Paul, Weiss lawyers participate in all levels of pro bono work, working directly with individual clients, non-profits and small businesses in a wide range of substantive areas, as well as handling appeals and drafting key amicus briefs before the Supreme Court.
Pro bono work has been an important commitment for Phillips Lytle throughout its 185+ history. Across all of our eight offices (six of which are in New York State), our more than 190 attorneys are dedicated to providing legal services to the poor, the disadvantaged and those in need. The legal services the firm provides also benefit organizations and institutions that assist the indigent and contribute to the quality of life in our communities. This work includes civil and criminal matters, and non-litigation legal assistance, ranging from matters that broadly impact communities, to representation of those in need in high-volume court settings, to complex individual case representations. As the firm plans for the future, pro bono services remain one of its core values.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and affiliates strongly encourages its lawyers, summer associates, and professional staff to work on pro bono matters for individuals and groups that are unable to afford legal services. The firm is a charter signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge, whereby Skadden pledges that attorneys and summer associates from its domestic offices will dedicate time equivalent to at least 3% of their annual billable hours to work on pro bono matters.
In the first 11 months of 2020, attorneys and summer associates from Skadden’s domestic offices dedicated to pro bono 9.7% of time billed. Firmwide, Skadden attorneys, summer associates, and professional staff recorded 236,927.16 hours of pro bono work from December 1, 2019 through November 30, 2020.
Deeply ingrained in the firm’s culture, pro bono work provides vital help to a wide variety of individuals and organizations in need of legal assistance. Skadden attorneys regularly assist those seeking asylum in the United States and elsewhere in their attempts to escape persecution due to religious or political beliefs or sexual orientation. Attorneys handle many cases for death row inmates; take on numerous matters involving wrongful imprisonment and prosecution, housing disputes, veterans matters, family law and micro-entrepreneurs. Attorneys frequently provide legal assistance to legal services organizations and other nonprofits on a wide variety of issues including corporate governance, intellectual property, real estate, employment and potential and actual mergers.