The Proskauer corporate social responsibility and pro bono blog

William C. Silverman

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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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

Proskauer Honors Public Service at the Annual Golden Gavel Awards

Proskauer honored its lawyers and staff who have made significant contributions to the Firm’s pro bono and corporate social responsibility programs this year at its 12th Annual Golden Gavel Awards ceremony on January 22. The following is a list of recipients alphabetically by project. Protecting Immigrant Youth Watch now Team New Orleans: Catholic Charities-Archdiocese of … Continue Reading

Justice in the Internet Age: Legal Access for Rural Americans

Thanks to advances in technology, the fight for equal access to justice has the potential of making enormous strides. A great example is the project Proskauer helped spearhead with the nonprofit Legal Information for Families Today (LIFT), which is now connecting pro se litigants in family court throughout New York State with pro bono services … Continue Reading

Pro Bono for Immigrant Families: Shutting off Asylum at the Southern Border

When I volunteered in Mexico last spring with two Proskauer colleagues alongside the Institute for Women in Migration (IMUMI), I witnessed a growing humanitarian crisis. The U.S. “Remain in Mexico” Policy – officially called the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) – requires asylum seekers at the southern border to wait in Mexico for the duration of … Continue Reading

Criminal Justice Reform in America: Shifting Attitudes on Incarceration

Last month, the U.S. state with the highest rate of incarceration (in the country with the largest prison population) took steps to reduce its incarceration of non-violent offenders. Oklahoma’s Governor Kevin Stitt (Republican) commuted the sentences of over 500 inmates. All of these individuals were non-violent offenders with an average age of less than 40. … Continue Reading

Criminal Justice Reform in America: Rethinking the Role of the Prosecutor

Until recently, conventional wisdom among prosecutors dictated that long prison terms were vital to public safety.  They took seriously the direction “to charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offenses,” and measured success in terms of trial wins and convictions.  Conventional wisdom, however, is changing from this purely punitive model as prosecutors are now … Continue Reading

NY State Legislature to Hold Hearings on Court Simplification

On November 13 and 21, 2019, the New York State Assembly and Senate will hold joint hearings on the court simplification reforms proposed by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore. The proposed amendment to the State Constitution would streamline the court system by: Consolidating New York’s 11 trial courts into three tiers: Supreme Court, Municipal Court, and … Continue Reading

Combating Human Trafficking: How the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Leads the Way

The human trafficking industry preys on vulnerable young women throughout the world who seek to escape poverty, violence, and oppression. These women are often lured by sex traffickers through false promises of a better life, only to find themselves trapped in a cycle of abuse. The trafficking industry earns profits of approximately $150 billion a … Continue Reading

Pro Bono for Immigrant Families: Protecting Access to Counsel

Last week, Proskauer — along with co-counsel Democracy Forward, and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. — filed a complaint on behalf of seven asylum seekers, their minor children and the legal services organization RAICES in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, claiming that several current immigration directives impede access to counsel … Continue Reading

Maximizing Access to Justice Through Pro Bono Priorities

Earlier this month, a Law360 article explored a fundamental—yet often overlooked—question:  whether the long-held standard practice of tallying pro bono hours remains “the best way to measure pro bono success.”  Though attempting to approximate a firm’s commitment to pro bono through quantifiable metrics is laudable, hours alone do not tell the full story.  Especially given … Continue Reading

Medical Report Supports Urgent Need for Humane Immigration Policies

The families and children migrating from Central America have suffered terrible traumatic experiences, and a recent report by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), a non-profit advocacy group, addresses the serious, long-term medical consequences of this trauma. These important findings provide compelling support for more humane immigration policies, and inform best practices for lawyers working with … Continue Reading

Criminal Justice Reform in America: Confronting Reentry Challenges

The United States comprises about 4% of the world’s population – and houses about 22% of the world’s prison population.  The U.S. Department of Justice reports that each year approximately 650,000 people are released from prison.  Helping this population with a successful transition following incarceration is not only critically important to the individuals involved, but … Continue Reading

In Defense of Immigration

In A Nation of Immigrants, President John F. Kennedy traced America’s mixed record of embracing new immigrants, and then emphasized the benefits of immigration as he argued in favor of reforming the system. “Nativism failed,” he concluded, “not because the seeds were not there to be cultivated, but because American society is too complex for … Continue Reading

Pro Bono for Immigrant Families: Seeking Asylum in the U.S. from Mexico

Since my trip to the U.S./Mexico border last summer, the situation for families seeking asylum has only become more challenging, especially in light of the Administration’s new “Remain in Mexico” policy.  This week, I am in Mexico along with Proskauer colleagues, Valarie McPherson, special immigration counsel, and Savannah Sosa, a project assistant.  We are providing … Continue Reading

The Right to Counsel in Civil Proceedings: An International Perspective

In the United States, people of limited means suffer a tremendous unmet need for legal services in civil proceedings. Why does the United States fall so far behind in providing that service in comparison with other western democracies? Background on the Right to Counsel In 1963, the Supreme Court decided Gideon v. Wainwright, the landmark … Continue Reading

The Proposal to Simplify New York’s Court Structure

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore’s call during her recent state of the judiciary address to “modernize” New York’s court system by reforming its complicated structure, has energized a growing grassroots effort across the state.  Since her speech at the end of February, dozens of groups and organizations, including representatives from a wide variety of New York … Continue Reading
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