NYSBA, Two Iowa Bar Associations Receive Harrison Tweed Award From ABA

By Brett Parker

NYSBA, Two Iowa Bar Associations Receive Harrison Tweed Award From ABA

8.6.2021

By Brett Parker

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The New York State Bar Association and two Iowa bar associations were honored with the prestigious 2021 Harrison Tweed Award today at the virtual business meeting of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense.

The award, which is given by the ABA’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, celebrates the extraordinary achievement of a state or local bar association that develops programs to increase access to civil legal services for the indigent. The presentation occurred during the 2021 ABA Hybrid Annual Meeting.

NYSBA President T. Andrew Brown and Immediate Past President Scott M. Karson were present via Zoom to accept the award for the association’s efforts to extend pro bono services to the underserved during the coronavirus pandemic.  The New York group’s ongoing efforts being honored include an extensive COVID-19 Pro Bono Network across the state, an Unemployment Insurance Initiative, and connecting volunteer attorneys with families of New Yorkers who passed away from COVID.

“The need for pro bono assistance was greater than ever in 2020 due to the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic including record unemployment,” said Brown, “When times are tough, the heart and soul of the legal profession is at its strongest. Our volunteer attorneys did not shy away from distress, instead they rolled up their sleeves and got to work helping New Yorkers who were impacted most by the pandemic. I am greatly honored to accept this award on behalf of the association.”

“It is the highest calling of our profession to take on pro bono work and ensure that all New Yorkers have access to justice,” said Karson. “Whether it was assisting residents with housing problems, uncontested estate claims or unemployment issues, it was an incredibly rewarding feeling during my presidency to see hundreds of volunteer attorneys answer the call when it was needed most. I feel honored and privileged to share in the acceptance of this prestigious award.”

NYSBA shared the award with the Iowa State Bar Association, Iowa Legal Aid and the Polk County Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyer Project. The Iowa associations were honored for developing a free COVID-19 Legal Advice Hotline.

This is not the first time that NYSBA has been honored with the prestigious Harrison Tweed Award: the association previously received the award in 1996 and 2005 for its support of funding for civil legal services as well as programs to increase access to legal services for the poor, including adults and children in Family Court and indigent criminal defendants.

“After one year, our team of 1,200 volunteer attorneys has helped more than 2,500 people with their unemployment problems,” said Brown, “Nearly 750 attorneys volunteered through our Surrogates’ Court initiative. We also had more than 300 attorneys help with landlord/tenant and other housing issues as a result of the pandemic.”

Brown hopes to keep the group’s momentum growing stronger amidst the uncertainty of the pandemic.  “Our work hasn’t stopped.  We stand ready to help all New Yorkers until this is over.”

 

 

 

 

 

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