Proskauer’s 35-year pro bono representation of a death row inmate, J.B. Parker, came to a successful conclusion last week when the 19th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida sentenced him to life in prison with the possibility of parole following the State of Florida’s decision to stop pursuing the death penalty.
Proskauer performs pro bono work for a number of innovative and impactful nonprofit organizations, including Beyond Kids Reading (BKR). This week we had the privilege of speaking with BKR’s founder Dr. Craig N. Horning.
On February 15th, the Commission to Reimagine the Future of New York’s Courts’ Pandemic Practices Working Group (PPWG) issued a report evaluating the court system’s response to the pandemic and calling for, among other recommendations, the expansion of remote proceedings, enhancement of the court’s technological capacity, and an increase in court staffing. Beginning last summer, I had the privilege along with other Proskauer attorneys of assisting the PPWG with its information-gathering efforts and with drafting the report.
Last week, hundreds of lawyers and staff gathered across Proskauer for the 15th Annual Golden Gavel Awards ceremony to honor those who have made significant contributions to the Firm’s pro bono, corporate social responsibility and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion efforts this past year. The evening began with a special guest. Preet Bharara, the former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, shared insights from his time in office, impressed the importance of public service, and addressed several issues he raised in his best-selling book Doing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and The Rule of Law. Also of note were remarks from Labor & Employment associate Godfre Blackman who is currently serving as the Firm’s NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) Fellow. As part of the Firm’s Collaborate for Change initiative, Proskauer created this fellowship for one of our associates to work directly with the LDF on strategic matters focusing on eliminating disparities and achieving racial justice and equality.
Proskauer recently submitted an amicus brief on behalf of The Buckeye Institute, an independent research and educational institution, in connection with the U.S. Supreme Court case of In Re Grand Jury. On appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, this case represents the first time the Court has examined the scope of the attorney-client privilege since it decided United States v. Upjohn in 1981.
The Pro Bono Project is a New Orleans-based non-profit providing free civil legal services to underserved members of six South Louisiana parishes. Managed by The Pro Bono Project and staffed with volunteers — including attorneys, paralegals, and law students — the Self-Help Resource Centers (SHRCs) provide assistance to pro se plaintiffs with various family law-related matters.
Unrepresented litigants who visit the SHRC receive assistance with petitions relating to custody, divorce, and name changes, as well as a variety of other pleadings, such as answers and orders to show cause. Pro se plaintiffs who come in person can access court-approved forms, including free notarization, and are advised of next steps. While the SHRCs do not provide legal counsel, they provide information — especially to those with more complicated legal issues — about organizations providing low- or no-cost representation.
Our story begins in or about 1875 when both Proskauer and Stillman College were founded. Fast forward almost 150 years when, this past summer, Stillman Professor Gordon Govens reached out to Proskauer. There have been graduates of Stillman, a small historically black college in Alabama, who have gone on to become lawyers but not until now had the school developed a formal prelaw program. Dr. Govens was formerly a practicing lawyer before his academic career and indeed, was an associate at Proskauer in the early 1990s. He thought that there might be a way for the two institutions to work together, and he was right.
For the 8th election cycle in a row, Proskauer hosted an Election Protection call center on November 7th and 8th in partnership with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which spearheads a national, nonpartisan effort that provides comprehensive information and assistance to ensure that all voters have an equal opportunity to vote. This year, Proskauer answered calls from Ohio. Our volunteers answered questions about a wide variety of issues such as polling locations and voter identification requirements, while also compiling reports of long lines, voter intimidation and electioneering activities in and around polling sites and relaying that information to the on-the-ground Lawyers’ Committee team stationed throughout Ohio.