Eight attorneys and a paralegal from Binghamton, Utica and the Capital District were honored at an Albany event by the New York State Bar Association for providing free legal services to low-income and vulnerable individuals.
They were recognized for “excellence in pro bono service” on October 14 at a kickoff for National Pro Bono week, which began October 19.
“Each of our National Pro Bono Week Award recipients has done a remarkable job of enhancing access to justice. Through skilled representation, innovative clinics and community programs, they have helped countless residents obtain the assistance they need for their legal matters,” said State Bar President Glenn Lau-Kee of New York City (Kee & Lau-Kee).
The honorees are:
Kristie Cinelli of Albany directed the Private Attorney Involvement Program of the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York’s (LASNNY) from 2007 through 2013. She established relationships with pro bono attorneys to ensure the program’s long-term success, as well as created new training programs.
Byrgen Finkelman of Slingerlands, a solo practitioner, volunteers with the LASNNY. She represents individuals with transgender name changes in collaboration with In Our Own Voices, an organization dedicated to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Seth R. Leech of Albany (Whiteman Osterman & Hanna) is a supervising attorney for the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project at Albany Law School. The project provides comprehensive legal representation to refugees seeking resettlement.
Terrance McGuiness of Binghamton (Levene Gouldin & Thompson) represented a prisoner in a pro bono challenge to a paternity claim. He achieved a favorable outcome for his client.
Lisa Mills of Valatie (Fitzsimmons & Mills) has devoted more than 50 hours to a single pro bono divorce matter. She developed and taught a pro se divorce clinic for low-income residents of Greene and Columbia counties.
Louis Pierro of Albany (Pierro Law Group) helped Albany Law School create the first Senior Citizens’ Law Day and Veterans’ Law Day. These programs bring important information to the public and help people obtain brief one-on-one legal advice.
Patrick Radel of Utica (Getnick Livingston Atkinson & Priore) donated more than 40 hours of pro bono service to an indigent inmate.
Regina Treffiletti of Albany, a retired attorney, organized the inaugural Pro Bono Expo and Community Law Day events in the Capital District.
Michelle Wildgrube of Niskayuna (Cioffi Slezak Wildgrube) volunteers with the Legal Project Affordable Housing Attorney Assistance Program, which works with community-based Affordable Housing agencies to assist homebuyers who are unable to afford legal fees. She also helped develop the new Wills Program, which assists low-income individuals with wills and health care proxy forms.
The American Bar Association established National Pro Bono Week in 2009 to support local efforts to expand the delivery of pro bono legal services, recognize the significant efforts of pro bono attorneys and showcase the tremendous difference that pro bono lawyers make to our system of justice, our communities and, most of all, to the clients they serve.
The 75,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.
Contact: Lise Bang-Jensen
Director of Media Services