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American Bar Association

Deborah Ebel named as the 2005 Ann Liechty Child Custody Pro Bono Award Recipient

The Ann Liechty Child Custody Pro Bono Award is one of five Pro Bono Publico Awards given annually by the American Bar Association. The award is named in memory of Ann Liechty, who was a dedicated child law advocate and former Pro Bono Publico Award recipient. Each year the award recognizes a lawyer who has enhanced the lives of children by improving or delivering volunteer legal services to children involved in private child custody proceedings.

This year's Ann Liechty Award recipient is Deborah Ebel. Ms. Ebel is the Pro Bono Coordinator and a litigation partner at McKenna, Long & Aldridge in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to joining McKenna, Long & Aldridge in 1985, Ms. Ebel was a managing attorney at Atlanta Legal Aid Society.

Ms. Ebel was the co-founder of the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation's ("AVLF") Guardian Ad Litem ("GAL") program, the first of its kind in Georgia. Her law firm served as the program's initial sponsor, and supplied the first group of volunteers. Her firm remains the primary sponsor and regularly offers its offices and resources for GAL trainings. To date, the AVLF program has served as GAL in over 1,300 cases, and is a national model for programs advocating for children in private custody cases.

Ms. Ebel herself has accepted almost thirty GAL cases through AVLF, more than any other GAL and totaling many thousands of pro bono hours. Since the program's inception, she has regularly donated her time both in developing new materials for the GAL Training Manual and in training new volunteers. She has participated in over twenty GAL trainings and has traveled throughout Georgia to help other jurisdictions develop similar programs.

Ms. Ebel also has improved the quality of GAL advocacy in Georgia. She recently played an invaluable role in developing statewide guidelines for GALs.

Ms. Ebel was nominated by Daniel Bloom, Deputy Director of Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation and a Family Law Magistrate Judge. As stated by Mr. Bloom, "in my many years working as a director of a pro bono organization, I have not found an attorney more dedicated to ensuring that individuals, particularly children, receive the representation they deserve." In addition, Mr. Bloom states that "as a magistrate Judge in the Family Division of Fulton Superior Court, I know I and other judges breathe a sigh of relief when we know Deborah has been placed in charge of children's best interests."

Ms. Ebel was the recipient of AVLF's 2000 Guardian ad Litem of the Year Award, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia Bill of Rights Award in 1986. In 1991, she was awarded the S. Philip Heiner Award from AVLF, awarded each year to a volunteer or organization that provides outstanding legal services to the indigent.

Ms. Ebel will receive her award at the American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Luncheon on Monday, August 8, 2005, at the ABA's Annual Meeting in Chicago. A videotape highlighting Ms. Ebel's work is being produced and will be available in August on the ABA's web site at www.abanet.org.

For more information about Ms. Ebel, the Ann Liechty Child Custody Pro Bono Award, or the ABA Child Custody and Adoption Pro Bono Project, contact . Applications for the 2006 Ann Liechty Award will be available in December.

Updated: 12/13/2006

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