President’s Pro Bono Service Awards Honors Lawyers Across NY State
The New York State Bar Association honored lawyers who have made an exceptional commitment to serving the public good during the 31st Annual President’s Pro Bono Service Awards held today.
The ceremony took place as part of the Law Day Celebration held at the Bar Association headquarters in Albany.
Award recipients were honored for volunteering their time and expertise for a wide range of causes include environmental concerns, domestic violence, and refugee resettlement.
“With this year’s Law Day theme ‘Toward a More Perfect Union: The Constitution in Times of Change,’ there is no more appropriate time to celebrate the lawyers who are on the ground putting in the work to effect change and making our union more perfect through direct action,” Brown said.
Here is a full list of this year’s President’s Pro Bono Award recipients:
First Judicial District
Neva Dayton Strom has volunteered with NYSBA’s Pro Bono Network Surrogate’s Court Volunteer group since May of 2020. She has served as mentor to other volunteer attorneys and shared her expertise on Surrogate Court matters.
Second Judicial District
Peter De Vries is a Brooklyn attorney with more than 15 years as a general practitioner providing a wide range of legal services. He works with the Brooklyn Volunteer Lawyers Project — providing divorce, bankruptcy, and guardianship services to those in need with an emphasis on Spanish-speaking clients.
Third Judicial District
Jessica Vinson provides pro bono services through the Private Attorney Involvement Program of the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York. She was the director and founder of the Legal Clinic to Aid Survivors of Domestic Violence in Glens Falls.
Fourth Judicial District
Scott Iseman is a former judge advocate in the U.S. Marine Corp. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Saratoga County Bar Association where he coordinates the bar association’s Veterans Affairs Committee and its pro bono veterans’ clinic. Iseman is also on the Board of Directors of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Fifth Judicial District
Erika Hooker, an attorney with Bousquet Holstein, works with the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County’s free legal clinics at Landlord Tenant Court and Surrogate’s Court. Hooker represents low-income tenants facing eviction. In Surrogate’s Court, she advises pro bono clients in estate administration and legal guardianships.
Sixth Judicial District
Robert H. Wedlake is a partner of Hinman, Howard & Kattell and a member of the firm’s Real Estate Department.
Seventh Judicial District
Henry W. Jones IV is a retired court attorney-referee. He represents pro bono clients for JustCause NY in family court matters such as the preparation and filing of petitions and child support litigation. He also works with Legal Assistance of Western New York.
Eighth Judicial District
For over 25 years, Charles D. Grieco has practiced environmental and land use law while serving on numerous community boards and commissions including the City of Buffalo Environmental Management Commission, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, Preservation Buffalo Niagara, the Western New York Book Arts Center, and City Honors Crew.
Ninth Judicial District
Jill Miller stepped away from a successful career practicing entertainment law at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz to raise her twins. When the Pace Women’s Justice Center opened a walk-in clinic in 2017 to serve victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and elder abuse, she became a pro bono attorney there.
Tenth Judicial District
Since his retirement from a 25-year career in corporate compliance and human resources, Dennis Buchanan volunteered through the Nassau County Bar Association and the Volunteer Lawyer Project. Buchanan also assists small non-profits with employment issues.
Eleventh Judicial District
Regina Alberty began her pro bono service with the Queens Volunteer Lawyers Project in 2002. She won a Small Firm Practitioner Award from InMotion, a legal assistance program for women. The award was for representing victims of domestic violence in divorce, custody, and orders of protection cases.
Emily Allen, a Fordham Law School graduate, has been a legal intern with Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation, advocating for tenants in Bedford-Stuyvesant. She helped draft legislation to extend New York State sexual harassment protections to nontraditional workers. Since graduating, she’s worked pro bono with JustCause in the Tenant Defense Project.
Hon. Vera R. Johnson is a former supervising administrative law judge for the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. Since retiring, she has handled pro bono legal matters for the Rural Law Center, LawNY and the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York.
Alexandra Hyken is a second-year law student at Brooklyn Law School. She has worked with the Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project in consumer debt protection and family law and with Brooklyn Law School’s Safe Harbor Clinic in immigration. She volunteers with If/When/How, and plans to intern with Advocates for Justice this summer, focusing on public school education and employment discrimination.
Law School Group – Albany Law School Immigration Law Society
The Immigration Law Society and the Justice Center at Albany Law School’s Immigration Law Clinic are reducing an enormous backlog of cases involving families trying to get out of Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrawal. More than 220 volunteer hours have been devoted to the Afghan Intake Project, which is dedicated to giving refugees a new home.
Small Law firm
Mucci & Grace has devoted a significant amount of time and expertise to assist the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York and its clients. Since 2015, the firm has taken on pro bono divorce cases, many of which include severe instances of domestic violence, and more recently has become a key part of Legal Aid’s eviction defense program.
Mid-sized Law Firm
O’Connell & Aronowitz have long established relationships with local organizations including The Legal Project of the Capital District Women’s Bar Association and The Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York. In the last ten years, its attorneys have performed over 5,000 hours of pro bono work that has benefitted individuals and businesses while protecting civil rights and liberties.
Large Law Firm
Winston & Strawn has a longstanding commitment to excellence in serving the public interest and has ranked as a top 25 firm on the American Lawyer Pro Bono Scorecard for the past five years. During 2021, US based Winston attorneys worked on more than 900 pro bono matters and dedicated 70,000 hours to pro bono legal service.
Attorney Professionalism Award Winner
Over the course of his career, Barry D. McFadden has assisted the Ontario County Department of Social Services with child protective proceedings, actions to free children for adoption, adult protective cases, and petitions for support for children on public assistance. McFadden helped create the Ontario County Youth Court and Juvenile Drug Treatment Court.
Reporters and photographers are welcome to attend. Please email Brandon Vogel at [email protected] to attend virtually or in person.
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.