In this Q&A, partner Betsy Plevan shares her experience supporting the Office of the Appellate Defender’s First Monday in October Gala fundraiser, where she served as a mock Supreme Court Justice on the All-Star Bench in support of a great cause. The Office of Appellate Defender NYC provides appellate representation to indigent persons convicted of felonies.

Tell us a little about your connection to the Office of the Appellate Defender, and the purpose of the First Monday Gala.

Betsy: The OAD is widely known as one of the leading private non-profit organizations providing legal services to poor people. I’ve had the privilege of working on many pro bono matters dedicated to civil rights throughout my career, and my specific involvement with the OAD dates back 10 years to when I was a recipient of its annual Milton S. Gould Award for Outstanding Oral Advocacy.

This fundraiser supports the mission of the OAD, in your opinion, why is the process of holding these awards so important?

From Left: The OAD’s First Monday in October Mock Supreme Court Justices Samuel Seymour, Caitlin J. Halligan, Teresa Wynn Roseborough, Mary Jo White, Betsy Plevan, Andrew J. Levandar and Evan R. Chesler.

Betsy: The fundraiser provides critical funding for the organization which represents convicted felons. One of the most meaningful parts of the evening was the presentation of an award to a former client of OAD who was in prison for almost seven years. He went on to get an education, become a social worker and now focuses on helping other former convicts as AVP of Policy at the Fortune Society. He was very impressive.

What was most significant about participating in the First Monday Gala as part of the All Star Bench?

Betsy: It was a unique opportunity to have the experience of being an appellate judge alongside so many experienced litigators, as well as hearing appellate arguments at a very high level. We all took it very seriously but had fun at the same time.

Being a past winner of the Milton S. Gould Award for Outstanding Oral Advocacy, what stood out to you most about the work of this year’s award winners?  

From Left: Alan Vinegrad, Betsy Plevan, Jeh C. Johnson, Evan R. Chesler, Teresa Wynn Roseborough, and Caitlin J. Halligan.

Betsy: The winners this year, Lisa Blatt of Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP and Donald Verrilli of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, were incredibly well prepared and deft in answering questions. They are both experienced Supreme Court advocates.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about the experience? 

Betsy: The fundraiser hosts many leading New York litigators who support the OAD, making it a great networking opportunity as well.