Arent Fox Announces 2013 Pro Bono Publico Award Winners
Washington, DC — On November 21, Arent Fox LLP announced the recipients of the firm’s Albert E. Arent and Marc L. Fleischaker Pro Bono Publico Awards, presented annually to lawyers and legal professionals who demonstrate outstanding contributions to public service.
“For more than 70 years, Arent Fox lawyers have consistently distinguished themselves as leaders in pro bono service,” said Chairman Mark M. Katz. “These awards demonstrate the firm’s continued commitment to the administration of justice.”
A reception was held in Arent Fox’s Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC offices to announce that Complex Litigation partners Hunter T. Carter (New York) and James H. Hulme (Washington), and Sports counsel Maidie Oliveau (Los Angeles) had received the Marc L. Fleischaker Award for notable work by partners and counsel.
The Albert E. Arent Award for outstanding pro bono achievement by associates and legal professionals went to associates Eric A. Biderman (New York), Aaron S. Brand (Washington), Peter G. Mancuso (New York) James M. Westerlind (New York), senior paralegal Desiree Morris (New York), and secretary Stephanie Garrett (Los Angeles).
Mr. Carter was recognized for his career-long work on civil rights, particularly LGBT issues, including contributing more than 600 hours over the last four years alone. Working with the New York State Bar, Mr. Carter was instrumental to the passage by the NY legislature of marriage equality legislation in 2011. Through his role as a board member of the New York City Bar’s Cyrus Vance Center for International Justice, Mr. Carter is also seeking a ruling from the Inter-American Court on Human Rights on marriage equality. Supported by a dozen Arent Fox lawyers and professionals, Mr. Carter is representing three couples from Chile who had been denied the right to be legally married. Earlier this week, Mr. Carter was invited to meet with Secretary of State John Kerry about the State Department’s Global Equality Fund, which will be partnering with the private wing of the Organization of American States to run and fund an equality campaign in mass media.
Mr. Hulme has performed pro bono work on behalf of prisoners in two different contexts. Over the last four years, Mr. Hulme, along with assistance from associate Karen Vladeck, has been representing a prisoner of the DC Department of Corrections after he brought suit in US District Court in DC against the DC Department of Corrections and Pamunkey Regional Jail for prisoner abuse, due process violations, and civil rights violations. In addition, for the last 18 months, Mr. Hulme has been working with the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, thoroughly vetting more than a dozen petitions from capital prisoners who say they have been wrongfully convicted.
Ms. Oliveau was honored for her work as pro bono general counsel for the Special Olympics, including for the 2015 Special Olympics Summer Games to be held in Los Angeles. Ms. Oliveau is uniquely qualified for the work given her key role in producing the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and her 16 years working as an arbitrator for the Olympics Court of Arbitration for Sport. She currently serves as chief negotiator for all major contracts and endorsements for the 2015 Special Olympics events and has personally invested nearly 300 hours in this pro bono work. That work has included support from Arent Fox lawyers Rachel Richardson, Brian Leung, Claudia Torres, Charlyn Ho, and Radhika Bhat.
Mr. Brand was honored for his commitment to pro bono in two areas: his critical work on the DC budget autonomy referendum and as a leader in key immigration cases. Working with Arent Fox pro bono clients, DC Appleseed, and DC Vote, Mr. Brand wrote a memorandum containing an innovative legal theory to allow the DC Council and Mayor to advance budget autonomy for the District on its own and remove the requirement that Congress must pass DC’s local budget. With the rule now established law, it is the most significant advancement in DC rights since the Home Rule Act was passed in 1975.
A second Arent Award went to a team of associates and a paralegal who, since 2011, have represented a woman in multiple family court proceedings involving her daughter and the child’s father. What appeared to be a straightforward paternity and child support dispute ultimately spawned four cases and courts in two boroughs of New York City, involving Mr. Westerlind, Mr. Biderman, Mr. Mancuso, and Ms. Morris in two trials, a motion to intervene in a family matter involving the same father, work with a private investigator, and evidentiary hearings requiring examination of several witnesses. After multiple, successive wins by the Arent Fox team, the child’s father agreed to a favorable settlement.
The firm also recognized legal secretary Stephanie Garrett, who has been a crucial facilitator of each of the two dozen foster family adoption proceedings that has been handled by Arent Fox lawyers in Los Angeles Superior Court. Ms. Garrett has become familiar with the paperwork needed to navigate the court’s adoption petitioning process, allowing her to support the firm’s growing pro bono practice of creating permanent families for Los Angeles children who had been placed in foster homes as a consequence of abuse and neglect charges.