NYSBA Honors Attorney General, Law Attorneys, Firms for Pro Bono Service and 2020 Empire State Counsel

By Brandon Vogel

January 20, 2021

NYSBA Honors Attorney General, Law Attorneys, Firms for Pro Bono Service and 2020 Empire State Counsel


By Brandon Vogel

New York State Attorney General Letitia James will deliver the keynote address and receive an award for her leadership and commitment to advancing access to justice for all New Yorkers during the New York State Bar Association’s (NYSBA) President’s Committee on Access to Justice (PCAJ) on Thursday, Jan. 21 at the 2021 NYSBA Annual Meeting.

The award will be presented at a virtual ceremony to celebrate the attorneys who demonstrated extraordinary pro bono service and to honor those who have earned the designation of Empire State Counsel® by performing 50 hours of pro bono service in 2020. Chief Judge Janet DiFiore will speak during the event.

“The need for pro bono assistance was greater than ever in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, record unemployment and social unrest. We are pleased to recognize those who gave so selflessly to the public in its time of need,” said T. Andrew Brown, NYSBA’s president-elect and PCAJ co-chair.

Attorneys Anne Sargent Arcano and Richard Mancino will be honored for their pro bono service during the event.

Arcano volunteers at the Pace Women’s Justice Center, a non-profit organization in Westchester County that provides free legal services to victims and survivors of domestic violence, elder abuse and sexual assault. She provides information and guidance to callers on a variety of issues. She also volunteers at PWJC’s Walk-In Legal Clinic, which offers free consultations to victims and survivors of abuse.

Mancino, a partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher, has devoted thousands of hours on pro bono matters, and dedicated himself to fighting for justice for the underprivileged through pro bono efforts on behalf of asylum seekers, the LGBTQ community, unrepresented children, low-income New Yorkers and others. Recently, he led a Willkie team 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 construct a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Erica Gomez and Gary B. Friedman will also receive the COVID-19 Pro Bono Surrogate’s Court Initiative Award. Michael Miller, a past president of NYSBA who leads the initiative, will present the award.

“Lawyers were uniquely qualified to help our fellow grieving New Yorkers suffering the loss of a loved one,” said Edwina F. Martin, co-chair of the President’s Committee on Access to Justice. “They exemplify the finest tradition of pro bono publico.”

Gomez and Friedman helped develop and implement the NYSBA special pro bono program to assist the families of financially disadvantaged New Yorkers who died from contracting COVID-19.

“In 2006, NYSBA launched Empire State Counsel® to acknowledge the hundreds of hours of pro bono legal service New York State attorneys give every year to thousands of low-income New Yorkers facing critical life crises such as loss of home or benefits,” said Tiffany A. Liston, co-chair of the committee. “Today, our Empire State Counsel pins show the world lawyers’ dedication to one of NYSBA’s and the legal profession’s most cherished principles: facilitating the fair administration of justice.”

The Empire State Counsel celebration also honors the law firms that have made exceptional efforts to encourage their associates and partners to give back. The committee recognized six law firms – three from upstate New York and three from the downstate area.

The downstate firms to be honored are Kirkland & Ellis; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. The upstate firms are Barclay Damon; Copps DiPaola Silverman; and Phillips Lytle.

Honoring attorneys who render extraordinary service to the public and the profession is part of NYSBA’s Annual Meeting tradition. The 144th Annual Meeting will focus on more than 65 different topics each day from Jan. 19 to 29. Subjects include Employment Litigation in the Wake of COVID-19, Conducting a Jury Trial in the Shadow of COVID-19, State Tax Implications From the Pandemic and Vaccines: Legal Mandates and Challenges.

The Presidential Summit on Wednesday, Jan. 27, will look at the COVID-19 Pandemic: Legal, Constitutional, and Public Health Issues.  One of the nation’s top constitutional law scholars, Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of Berkeley Law, and Irwin Redlener, a pediatrician, public health activist, author, academic, and advisor, will speak at the event.

Other featured speakers at the Annual Meeting include Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Pascal Saint-Amans, director of the Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Jeh Johnson, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.

For more information on NYSBA’s Annual Meeting, click here.

About the New York State Bar Association

The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, NYSBA has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.


Contact: Brandon Vogel
[email protected]

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