The Proskauer corporate social responsibility and pro bono blog

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William C. Silverman

Pro Bono Partner

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.

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Lawsuit Challenges New York’s Host Homes Program for Putting Children at Risk

Last week, Proskauer filed an Article 78 petition on behalf of The Legal Aid Society, Lawyers For Children, and the Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo — three organizations that represent children in foster care proceedings — against the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) over its regulations establishing a Host Homes … Continue Reading

Constitutional Reform of New York Court System Advances

Last week, court reform took a giant step forward in New York State when Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Brad Hoylman and Assembly Judiciary Committee Chair Charles D. Lavine introduced a proposed constitutional amendment to simplify New York’s complicated court structure. The proposal would streamline the court system by consolidating New York’s 11 separate trial courts … Continue Reading

Report Detailing Impact of COVID-19 on the New York City Family Court Urges Reform

Over the past several months, I have had the honor of co-chairing a joint New York City Bar Association/Fund for Modern Courts work group, which just issued its report on the impact of COVID-19 on the New York City Family Court. Given its large caseload, the fact that about 80% of the litigants are unrepresented, … Continue Reading

Proskauer Honors Public Service at the 14th Annual Golden Gavel Awards

Last week, the Proskauer community came together for the 14th Annual Golden Gavel Awards ceremony, a firm-wide virtual celebration 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. Congratulations and thanks to the following … Continue Reading

Spotlight on Equal Justice Works Fellow Rita Gilles

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Rita Gilles, an Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by Bloomberg and Proskauer, has observed firsthand the heroic dedication and sacrifice of frontline workers, especially the health care staff at Mount Sinai Health System who are now dealing with another challenging winter. For those in or near poverty the pandemic has been … Continue Reading

Charting a Path Forward with Valerie Jarrett

Chief among the characteristics of highly successful people are a fierce work ethic and the ability to make success look easy. A good example is Valerie Jarrett, Chief Executive Officer of the Barack Obama Foundation, who spoke at Proskauer virtually last week as part of the firm’s A Path Forward lecture series and Collaborate for Change program. The presentation … Continue Reading

Restoring Voting Rights for Individuals with Criminal Records and the Need to Inform Them of Their Rights

A critical part of criminal justice reform is making it easier for those with criminal records to reenter society. This means greater job training, more employment opportunities, affordable housing, and stronger laws prohibiting discrimination and facilitating the expungement of old convictions.  Successful reentry into a free society, however, requires more than just the basic needs of … Continue Reading

The 1619 Project and a Path Forward to Racial Justice

In commemoration of Juneteenth 2021, Proskauer was honored to host Nikole Hannah-Jones, founder of The 1619 Project, as part of its A Path Forward lecture series and Collaborate for Change program.  The discussion was moderated by Keisha-Ann Gray, a partner in the New York office, with support from Proskauer’s Black Lawyer Affinity Group. Hannah-Jones shared … Continue Reading

Cannabis Legalization and Racial Justice

Earlier this year, New York passed legislation legalizing the adult use of cannabis. New Yorkers can now legally possess three ounces for any use, and can smoke marijuana in any publically-designed area where tobacco smoking is allowed, although home cultivation is still not permitted. Importantly, certain convictions – possessing up to 16 ounces or selling … Continue Reading

Judicial Selection Reform Virtual Conference Addresses Court Reform in New York State

Despite the critical importance of a strong and independent judiciary, it’s too often that court reform is ignored by public officials and civic leaders. Earlier this week – at the Conference on Judicial Selection Reform hosted by the Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone – I had the opportunity to use my perspective as Chair of … Continue Reading

Caring about Caregivers: Facilitating Adoptions with Mobilization for Justice

Due to COVID-19 court restrictions, there have been no adoption proceedings over the past 14 months in New York City, culminating in a backlog of children in need.  Although these proceedings are not considered to be “emergencies,” the failure to facilitate permanency on such a wide scale, in fact, poses a threat to the health … Continue Reading

Proskauer Honors Public Service at the 13th Annual Golden Gavel Awards

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 … Continue Reading

New York City Bar Report Recommends Changes in the Appointment and Assignment Process for Family Court Judges

Delays in New York City Family Court proceedings too often result from an inadequate number of judges combined with a court structure that makes it difficult to allocate judges where they are most needed.  Although these structural faults require legislative and constitutional changes, there are certain steps, according to a recent New York City Bar … Continue Reading

Bloomberg and Proskauer Sponsor Equal Justice Works Fellow at Mount Sinai Medical Legal Partnership

COVID-19 has been catastrophic for the wellbeing of low-income Americans, particularly in communities of color. The costs to health and human life have been devastating and the substantial collateral damage on the financial and social fabric of the country is expected to be felt into 2021 and beyond. One of this country’s leading hospitals, Mount … Continue Reading

Proskauer & Election Protection – Ensuring Voices Are Heard And Votes Are Counted

Election Protection is a nationwide nonpartisan coalition, spearheaded by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, working to ensure that every voter is able to exercise their right to vote. In conversation with Damon Hewitt, Executive Vice President, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Proskauer pro bono partner Bill Silverman says, “Supporting impactful … Continue Reading

Confronting Racial Injustice: Felony Convictions and the Right to Vote

The idea that individuals with a felony conviction should be barred from voting for at least some period of time is widely accepted across the United States. But when you consider that current laws arose out of explicit racial animus following the Civil War and the end of slavery; when you look at the disproportionate effect the … Continue Reading

Election Protection and the Need for Nationwide Voting Standards

Proskauer’s participation in Election Protection, through hosting a call center with Firm, client and alumni volunteers across the United States, provides an invaluable service to individual voters ensuring they have an equal opportunity to cast their ballot.  This volunteer experience also provides great insight into the current condition of democracy in America.  It lays bare … Continue Reading

Pro Bono Spotlight: Shanice Smith-Banks

Earlier this month, justices of the Louisiana Supreme Court took their places one at a time as the proceedings began, just like they have done over the past 200 years, but this court appearance was a little different.  For the first time in its history, the Court heard arguments over Zoom.  And while many seasoned … Continue Reading

Proskauer Helps Small Businesses Navigate Labor & Employment Law Issues through COVID-19 Crisis

Through Proskauer’s partnership with the City Bar Justice Center and Lawyers for Good Government, we helped launch the nationwide COVID-19 Small Business Remote Legal Clinic to consult with small businesses across a range of pressing issues: contracts & force majeure, leases, insurance, and, of course, the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. One of the … Continue Reading

Expanding Public Service in the COVID-19 Crisis

To consider the great need, among people of limited means, for civil legal services during the COVID-19 crisis, a good starting point is where we were before the crisis started.  In short, civil legal resources for the poor in the United States are woefully inadequate.  According to the Legal Services Corporation, which documents the justice gap in … Continue Reading

Leveling the Legal Playing Field for Poor Families in Family Court

The New York Statewide Central Register (SCR) of Abuse and Maltreatment maintains records of calls, allegations, and results of investigations regarding suspected child abuse and maltreatment. Although these records are not public, many employers and agencies are legally obligated to check the database before hiring applicants and accepting volunteers. Having an “indicated” report on file … Continue Reading
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