Proskauer gathered for a firmwide virtual celebration, our 13th Annual Golden Gavel Awards ceremony on February 3, to honor those lawyers and staff members who went far above and beyond to contribute to the Firm’s pro bono, corporate social responsibility, and diversity & inclusion initiatives this year. This past year has been one of immense adversity and challenges. We thank and celebrate the following colleagues who rose to the occasion and made a difference for their communities.

Pro Bono

Racial Justice

The Innocence Project – Freedom for Ronnie Long

After 44 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, North Carolina resident and The Innocence Project client Ronnie Long was finally released in August 2020. Over the span of many decades, a steady stream of suppressed evidence concerning the crime — neither disclosed to the defense nor presented to the jury — came to light. It included lab-test results demonstrating that Mr. Long was not linked to the crime scene; medical evidence taken from the victim that unaccountably went missing; and, most recently, 43 latent fingerprints lifted from the scene, none of which match Mr. Long’s. As part of Mr. Long’s successful federal appeal before the Fourth Circuit, Proskauer filed an amicus brief in support of Mr. Long on behalf of 40 leading scholars who specialize in forensic science.

Election Protection

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This leadership team spearheaded the Firm’s first all-virtual call center after 14 years of hosting the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s non-partisan Election Protection voting rights hotline. In partnership with the in-house legal departments of over 20 corporate clients, nearly 400 volunteers contributed well over 2,000 hours across two days to answer 1,800 calls from voters in Ohio and Arkansas, providing crucial information with respect to COVID-19 guidelines, changing voter ID laws, and mail-in ballot procedures, while also addressing the serious issues of voter intimidation.


Supporting Small Businesses

The impact of COVID-19 on small businesses has been devastating. To ensure the health of workers and that businesses stay afloat, the Firm advised over 150 small businesses in 2020. Proskauer lawyers counseled on provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), held numerous webinars on labor & employment guidelines, and advised on numerous transactional matters regarding force majeure clauses, lease re-negotiation, and much more. These attorneys were committed to providing stability and peace-of-mind to the local brick-and mortars and micro-entrepreneurs that serve as the backbone of the nation’s economy.

The Call to Unite

The Call to Unite is a national impact initiative that culminated in a 24-hour livestream telethon and fundraiser at the height of the pandemic in May 2020. The event brought together celebrities and public figures like Oprah Winfrey, Presidents Bush and Clinton, and the Dalai Lama to call upon Americans to do their part for their communities during these trying times. Proskauer’s work included the preparation of talent releases and digital distribution agreements, counseling with respect to general intellectual property issues, including music clearances and fair use, and development of Terms of Use and Privacy Policies.

Impact Litigation

Baez v. NYCHA

This team of Proskauer attorneys has gone above and beyond in the fight for safe and healthy homes for the more than 400,000 New Yorkers who live in public housing. Through a court-approved consent decree, Proskauer has made substantial progress in implementing oversight and accountability systems to ensure that tenants, particularly those with asthma and other respiratory illnesses like COVID-19, have thorough and immediate remediation of mold and excessive moisture in their homes.

Oasis Therapeutic Life Centers

On behalf of a live-in farm for autistic young adults, Proskauer was able to secure a landmark ruling in the New Jersey Appellate Division, which upheld Oasis’ right to assert a claim under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination against certain neighbors whom Oasis alleged in its complaint, sought to, among other things, interfere with Oasis’ purchase of property in their neighborhood on the grounds that Oasis’ use of the home would purportedly deflate neighborhood property values and make the area unsafe.  After dozens of depositions and thousands of hours of legal work, the Oasis team was successfully able to reach a settlement.  Oasis believes that the final resolution of this lawsuit is a victory not only for Oasis, but also for the autistic community as a whole.  By finally resolving this matter, Oasis can now focus full time on its mission of helping young adults with autism thrive in their communities.


These individuals have demonstrated leadership across multiple Firm initiatives, perseverance in tackling difficult pro bono matters, and compassion in caring for the most vulnerable.

  • Sara Cody – New York, Litigation Paralegal
  • Yena Hong – New York, Associate
  • Jinyoung Joo – New York, Partner
  • Victoria Klevan – New York, Litigation Paralegal
  • Maya Tarr – New York, Special Trademark Counsel

Corporate Social Responsibility

Career & College Readiness

Proskauer’s College & Career Readiness programs aim to provide students, veterans, and low-income or homeless adults with the tools and guidance needed for the next stages of their academic or professional careers. Through one-time or multi-part workshops, individuals throughout all sectors of the Firm have made an immeasurable impact on their local communities by leading sessions on topics such as financial literacy, resume writing and interview preparation, professionalism in the workplace, and social justice. Through these programs, Proskauer has proudly supported American Corporate Partners, the Alliance Dr. Olga Mohan High School, the Bowery Mission, Getting Out & Staying Out, Guttman Community College, Legal Prep Charter Academy, Manhattan Hunter Science High School, Match Charter School, and Prep for Prep. Our thanks to the following individuals who have gone above and beyond to support these programs.

  • Hanna After Buffalo – Chicago, Office Coordinator
  • Casey Brandenberger – Los Angeles, Associate Director of Legal Recruiting and Professional Development
  • Mark Bunbury – New York, Associate Director of Human Resources
  • Ian Padilla Jong – New York, Associate
  • Rachel Kleiner – New York, Director of Legal Recruiting
  • Katrina McCann – New York, Associate
  • Penelope Pint – Boston, Administrative Assistant
  • Megahn Sant’Anna – Boston, Associate Director of Communications
  • Heather Seidel – Boston, Office Administrator
  • Edward Young – Chicago, Associate


Proskauer is proud to support various mentorship programs across the globe that enable our people to share their guidance and expertise on an ongoing basis with high-achieving students of low-income communities. These programs include: the “Moot Court” initiative with Francis Lewis High School in New York that offers students the opportunity to learn the art of legal debate and oral argumentation, the ThinkForward and Inspiring Tomorrow’s Leaders programmes in London that serve students at the highest risk of leaving school and girls of African or Caribbean descent respectively, and Article 1 in Paris that supports low-income students pursuing the study of law. Our thanks to the following individuals whose leadership makes these programs possible.

Alleviating Hunger

Since 2018, Proskauer’s London office has proudly supported The Soup Kitchen at the American International Church through volunteerism, corporate sponsorship, and collection drives. The Soup Kitchen provides free hot meals, clothes and toiletries, and a sense of belonging and community for the homeless, elderly, lonely and poor in Central London. Under the leadership of the following individuals, Proskauer has provided a small group of volunteers on a bi-weekly basis to assist in the preparation and service of nutritious meals at the Soup Kitchen. They have also regularly rallied the generosity of their colleagues to collect countless pantry items to stock the shelves of the Soup Kitchen when they are most in need of support.

Diversity & Inclusion

Talent Development and Community Building

Awarded to individuals who have demonstrated excellence through their efforts to increase diversity, inclusion and equitable opportunities within the Firm. The recipient’s actions have directly impacted the Firm’s ability to attract, develop, motivate, and retain diverse talent. Recipients have invested significant time, energy, and resources into creating inclusive, affirming spaces for diverse lawyers, advocating for their needs, and challenging the Firm to continuously prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion in meaningful ways.

Leadership and Impact

Awarded to an individual who has served as a catalyst for change in the areas of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion. The recipient has been critical to developing or implementing an innovative program, policy, or activity to enhance diversity within the Firm. The recipient’s work has the potential to effect or implement long-standing change and is integral to the Firm’s evolution toward greater inclusivity. The recipient embodies the spirit of advocacy and uses the influence they have earned to further support the advancement of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion in the Firm.

Advancing Change

Awarded to individuals who have been engaged in significant ways in the advancement of diversity and inclusion and through their actions have raised awareness of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion issues in the Firm.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Award

This new Golden Gavel, the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Award, honors individuals who are actively engaged in fostering an inclusive culture that is free from bias and serves as a role model for others. The recipients act as a sponsor or ally in championing gender equity and works to remove barriers and improve the working experience and engagement levels of women in the Firm.

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Photo of William C. Silverman William C. Silverman

William C. Silverman is a partner responsible for leading Proskauer’s global pro bono efforts, which provide assistance to individual clients and nonprofit organizations in litigation as well as transactional matters. He focuses on identifying and securing pro bono opportunities and partnerships for Proskauer…

William C. Silverman is a partner responsible for leading Proskauer’s global pro bono efforts, which provide assistance to individual clients and nonprofit organizations in litigation as well as transactional matters. He focuses on identifying and securing pro bono opportunities and partnerships for Proskauer lawyers and ensuring widespread participation in these projects.

Bill has robust private and public sector experience and a strong criminal and civil background. He has worked extensively on government investigations and white collar criminal matters, as well as complex civil litigation in federal and state courts. He also served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he led criminal investigations, conducted trials and handled Second Circuit appeals.

Throughout his career, Bill has dedicated himself to the promotion of equal access to justice through pro bono service, particularly in the area of family court, anti-trafficking, and immigration.

Bill spearheaded a partnership among several law firms, corporations and the New York City Family Court to provide free legal advice to pro se litigants. The New York City Family Court Volunteer Attorney Program now has more than 400 volunteer attorneys from 40 major firms and corporations. Bill also helped build a coalition of organizations in a successful effort to secure additional Family Court judges in New York. He is now part of an effort spearheaded by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore to simplify the New York Court System from 11 trial courts to three.

Bill serves as counsel to the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition. In that capacity he has been a strong advocate for changes in the law and public policy to protect victims of human trafficking and bring perpetrators to justice. He also represents individual clients in this area, including a successful federal lawsuit brought on behalf of a trafficking victim against her traffickers. For his work, he was named by domestic violence nonprofit Sanctuary For Families as one of “New York’s New Abolitionists.”

Bill has spoken at numerous conferences and events, including New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman’s Hearings on Civil Legal Services and the American Bar Association’s Equal Justice Conference. In 2014, he attended a meeting at the White House with Vice President Joe Biden and other policymakers on the need for access to legal services in immigration proceedings.

Bill has been recognized for his public service with the Abely Pro Bono Leadership Award from Sanctuary For Families and Columbia Law School (2019); the Special Leadership Award for All-Around Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility & the Law from City & State Reports (2015); the Commitment to Justice Award for Outstanding Partner from inMotion (2008); and the Matthew G. Leonard Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Achievement from MFY Legal Services (2007).

Outside of his work at the firm, Bill serves on various committees and non-profit boards. Bill is currently chairman of the Fund for Modern Courts, a non-partisan citizen organization devoted to improving New York State courts, and is formerly chairman of Legal Information For Families Today (LIFT), an organization devoted to unrepresented litigants in Family Court.

Photo of Wendy Dessy Wendy Dessy

Wendy Hattler Dessy is the director of corporate social responsibility for Proskauer. She oversees all aspects of employee engagement, board service and corporate social responsibility for the Firm..

Through a host of initiatives, the Firm endeavors to advance education, raise awareness of veterans’…

Wendy Hattler Dessy is the director of corporate social responsibility for Proskauer. She oversees all aspects of employee engagement, board service and corporate social responsibility for the Firm..

Through a host of initiatives, the Firm endeavors to advance education, raise awareness of veterans’ issues, and improve opportunities for women in Africa through literacy and education.

Some of her most impactful programming has included creating an Adopt-a-School initiative, and establishing partnerships with both The Institute for Veterans and Military Families and Village Health Works. Wendy has also created local partnerships across the country in the cities and communities where Proskauer employees live and work.

Prior to joining Proskauer, Wendy served as Executive Director for NYC Cool Roofs and Manager of Public/Private Partnerships for the Mayor’s Office of Service and Volunteerism from 2010 to 2014. Wendy held various positions within the Bloomberg administration and campaigns from 2005 to 2010.