Arent Fox Announces Recipients of 2010 Firm Pro Bono Awards
WASHINGTON, DC — NOVEMBER 18, 2010 — Arent Fox LLP has announced the recipients of the firm’s annual Albert E. Arent and Marc L. Fleischaker Pro Bono Awards.
The Albert E. Arent and the Marc L. Fleischaker Awards are presented annually to partners, associates and legal professionals who demonstrate “outstanding contributions to public service.”
A reception was held November 16 in all three Arent Fox offices (Washington, DC, New York City and Los Angeles) and telecast internally to announce this year’s recipients. The highlight of the evening were remarks given Margery Arent Safir, Albert Arent’s daughter, who spoke at the Washington, DC, office about her father’s commitment to civil rights and pro bono public assistance.
Additional speakers included Arent Fox chairman Mark M. Katz, chairman emeritus Marc Fleischaker, managing partner of the New York office Michael S. Blass, and Committee member Jennifer Terry.
This year’s Pro Bono Award honorees were:
Arent Fox partner Stephen D. Kahn received the Marc L. Fleischaker Award and associate Melanie L. Bartlett received the Albert E. Arent Award for their work on behalf of pro bono client SOME, Inc. (So Others Might Eat—“SOME”) . Steve and Melanie led a three-year project for SOME in an extraordinarily complex $36 million multifamily housing financing. SOME wanted to create 240 additional units of affordable housing for some of DC’s poorest residents. SOME works to provide affordable housing to DC’s low-income and homeless populations. Steve and Melanie led a team of Arent Fox attorneys, including Will Basil, Julianne Matthews, Edna Garrett and Carmen Zollman, who together donated over 1000 hours of their time working on the financing for this project, which closed on August 19 of this year. The 240 units will be located in five scattered site locations in Washington, DC. Forty-three units will ultimately be set aside for Department of Mental Health consumers.
Construction has already begun on the units, and SOME expects to open the first building in January 2011, with a community center to follow in April 2011.
Earlier this year, SOME honored Steve and Melanie with the organization’s Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award, writing, “Mr. Kahn and Ms. Bartlett’s generous pro bono legal counsel on bond and tax credits for SOME’s Housing Development Department has provided countless hours of professional guidance and service to benefit our Affordable Housing Development Initiative.”
Arent Fox counsel Ambassador Pierre-Richard Prosper was named a recipient of the Marc L. Fleischaker Award. Ambassador Prosper has served as a member of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) since February of 2007. He is now vice-chairman of CERD, a United Nations body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by 173 participating UN member nations. CERD meets twice a year for four weeks, most recently in August 2010. Just in the last year, Pierre has dedicated almost 300 hours to this project.
In addition to his service on CERD, Pierre has donated extraordinary amounts of time to host of international matters. In both 2006 and 2007, Pierre led the International Republican Institute Election Observation Mission to Nigeria. The team included 59 international observers in monitoring and issue findings on the 2007 Nigerian presidential and National Assembly elections. Pierre’s work included meeting and consulting with candidates, political leaders, voters, and international observer missions.
Pierre also recently made the news by completing the representation of the family of a 71-year-old Iranian-American man unlawfully imprisoned in Iran for more than two years. (See firm press release here.) Pierre negotiated with Iranian authorities to secure the release of Reza Taghavi, a businessman from Orange County, from Evin Prison in Tehran and return him to his family and home in southern California. Over a 14-month period, Pierre made three separate trips to Iran to meet with Iranian officials in Tehran and several meetings in other countries as well.
Ruben Hernandez, a senior legal assistant in Los Angeles, who has been working with lawyer Jennifer Terry and others in a court-appointed civil rights action the Los Angeles Police Department, was honored with the Albert E. Arent Award. The client brought this action against the LAPD and four individual officers, alleging excessive force in the course of an arrest. As a result of the violence that occurred at his arrest, the client suffered numerous serious injuries, requiring surgery and three days in the hospital. In the last 12 months, Ruben has been involved at every stage of the case, from the filing of the complaint through second chairing the depositions of 11 individuals from the LAPD. Ruben has donated countless hours of his free time, including evenings and weekends, to assist the legal team in their efforts to bring about a just and successful resolution of the case on behalf of the firm’s client.
About Albert E. Arent and Marc L. Fleischaker:
The Arent Fox Pro Bono Awards are named after two firm partners with long histories of dedication to public service.
The late Albert E. Arent was a founding partner of the firm. In 1939, Mr. Arent joined the newly formed Civil Rights Section of the Justice Department, where he helped expand federal jurisdiction over civil rights cases, including taking on the prosecution lynching cases and other forms of racial mob violence. When several states sued the federal government over the new federal prosecutorial powers, Mr. Arent successfully defended the expanded civil rights authority in court in Georgia and Louisiana. In the early 1940s, he was a special assistant to attorneys general Robert H. Jackson (who later served as a US Supreme Court justice) and Francis Biddle. While in private practice, Mr. Arent devoted countless hours to pro bono assistance and charitable works. He passed away in 2006.
Marc L. Fleischaker currently serves as chairman emeritus of Arent Fox. He joined the firm in 1971 following graduation from George Washington University Law School. Throughout his career, Mr. Fleischaker has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to civil rights. In 1995, Marc secured a landmark settlement in a racial discrimination suit against the Library of Congress. He is currently lead counsel in the landmark litigation, Love v. Vilsack -- the so-called "Women Farmers litigation,” which was filed by a number of women farmers against the US Department of Agriculture for gender discrimination in the administration of the USDA’s farm loan programs. He was recently named chair of the Senior Attorney Initiative for Legal Services or SAILS Project, a joint initiative by the DC Bar Pro Bono Program and the DC Access to Justice designed to put senior lawyers who are winding down their practices to work on pro bono efforts. The SAILS Project asks participating law firms to implement programs in which older attorneys can ply their legal skills on pro bono projects across Washington.
Arent Fox congratulates all of this year’s recipients and thanks them for their time, efforts and dedication to the firm’s pro bono efforts.