Sixteen recipients were honored with 2016 President’s Pro Bono Service Awards May 2 in Albany.
President David P. Miranda of Albany and President-elect Claire P. Gutekunst of Yonkers, co-chair of the President’s Committee on Access to Justice, recognized the award recipients during a luncheon at the State Bar Center on May 2.
“These honorees’ efforts clearly serve the mission of the State Bar and truly do the public good,” said David P. Miranda of Albany (Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti). “Pro bono service is one of the proudest traditions of the legal profession and we heartily recognize their efforts.”
In addition to honoring attorneys representing 10 of New York’s 13 judicial districts, the awards were given to a lawyer under age 36 or practicing less than 10 years, a senior lawyer, law school group, law student, small/medium-size firm and large firm.
The recipients include:
1st Judicial District (Manhattan)
Stephen Lessard (Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP) has volunteered for the New York County Lawyers’ Association (NYCLA) Veterans Discharge Upgrade Program; National LGBT Bar Association’s Military Working Group; the Life Planning Clinic, founded by the New York Legal Assistance Group and the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York; and helped establish the NYCLA U.S. Tax Court Calendar Call Pro Bono Program.
3rd Judicial District (Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster counties)
Denise M. Resta-Tobin of Ballston Lake (Tobin & Dunshee, LLP) dedicates time to providing pro bono legal services to victims of domestic violence in the Capitol Region. She specializes in the areas of family/matrimonial matters, personal injury, wills, traffic matters, landlord/tenant disputes and property litigation.
4th Judicial District (Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren, Washington counties)
Charles Harding, a principle in The Harding Law Firm in Schenectady has served as a judge for Albany Law School’s annual mock trial competition and volunteered for the Schenectady County Bar Association’s Modest Means program. In 2015, he became a member of New York State’s Attorney Emeritus Program. He has also volunteered for the Legal Aid Society of Northeast New York, accepting several contested divorce actions.
5th Judicial District (Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego counties)
Michael Palczewski of New Hartford N.Y. volunteers for the Legal Aid Society in Utica on a weekly basis. He advises clients who need advice on family law issues, and many of his clients are distraught and have nowhere other place to turn.
6th Judicial District (Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Madison, Otsego, Schuyler, Tioga, Tompkins counties)
James Cushman, in private practice in Norwich, N.Y., has been involved with the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York’s Private Attorney Involvement Program for more than 15 years, providing pro bono bankruptcy assistance.
7th Judicial District (Cayuga, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Yates counties)
Andrew Martin works with the Volunteer Legal Services Project in Rochester, assisting with unemployment insurance benefit hearings.
8th Judicial District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans, Wyoming counties)
Raymond McCabe of Buffalo (Barclay Damon) has volunteered to incorporate and obtain IRS recognition of tax-exempt status for several Western New York charitable organizations. He also helps divorcing individuals obtain the marital share of their former spouses’ retirement or pension funds.
9th Judicial District (Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Westchester counties)
Wendy Marie Weathers of White Plains (Cabanillas & Associates, P.C.) volunteers for Legal Services of the Hudson Valley, preparing and filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy petitions and attending 341 Hearings, resulting in Chapter 7 discharges.
10th Judicial District (Nassau, Suffolk counties)
S. Robert Kroll of Merrick, a former partner at Medowar & Kroll, Esqs., is a member of the Nassau-Suffolk Law Services Committee, providing counsel to pro se litigants in the Nassau County District Court Landlord-Tenant Part 1. He is also a volunteer mediate for landlord-tenant cases in Nassau County District Court and volunteer for the Veteran’s Law Clinic at Hofstra Law School.
11th Judicial District (Queens County)
Daniel A. Costigan of Fresh Meadows (Daniel A. Costigan, P.C.) devotes significant time to pro bono cases through the Queens Volunteer Lawyers Project and has represented multiple low-income and indigent clients.
Osvaldo Garcia of New York City (Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP) is the founder and director of the Cadwalader Black and Latino Association Immigration Clinic, which has become a successful and crucial source of assistance for both attorneys and pro bono clients.
Frederick Stephen Marty, who retired from Hiscock Law Firm (now Barclay Damon) in 2012, volunteers for programs sponsored by the Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP) in Central New York, including Talk to a Lawyer, Rescue Mission, Onondaga County Surrogate’s Court, the Upstate and Crouse Hospitals and Landlord Tenant.
Jessica Persaud, a third-year law student at Albany Law School scheduled to graduate in May 2016, is a teaching assistant for the Domestic Violence Prosecution Hybrid Clinic and project director of the Prisoners’ Rights pro bono project.
Law School Group
Touro Law Center’s Disaster Relief Clinic, which was developed in the wake of Superstorm Sandy as a referral hotline, has evolved into a full-service legal clinic addressing the changing needs of Sandy survivors since the storm.
Small/Medium Law Firm
More than 180 Phillips Lytle attorneys provide legal services to the poor, disadvantaged and those in need. Work includes matters relating to 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.
Large Law Firm
DLA Piper (US) attorneys spend time each year providing free legal services to individuals and organizations who cannot otherwise access legal services.
The 74,000 member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.
Contact: Christina Couto
Senior Media Writer