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American Bar Association

ABA Pro Bono Publico Award - Current Recipients

The ABA Pro Bono Publico Award is presented each year by the Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service to honor individual lawyers, law firms, law schools, government attorney offices, corporate law departments and other institutions in the legal profession that have enhanced the human dignity of others by improving or delivering volunteer legal services to the poor.

In August 2013 the five recipients of the ABA Pro Bono Publico Award were honored at the Pro Bono Publico Awards Assembly Luncheon held during the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco.


2013 ABA Pro Bono Publico Awards Program

Keynote Speaker for the Awards Luncheon

Frank H. Wu

Chancellor & Dean of University of California Hastings College of Law



The 2013 Recipients Of The ABA Pro Bono Publico Award

Bruce B. Blackwell | Orlando, FL

Exelon | Chicago, IL

Patricia Lee | Las Vegas, NV

Leonard, Street and Deinard | Minneapolis, MN

Jeffrey Trachtman | New York, NY

Pro Bono Publico Award





Frank H. Wu, Keynote Speaker



Frank H. Wu

Frank H. Wu is in his third year of service as Chancellor & Dean of University of California Hastings College of Law. He was a member of the faculty at Howard University, the nation's leading historically black college/university, for a decade.

He is the author of Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White, which was immediately reprinted in its hardcover edition, and co-author of Race, Rights and Reparation: Law and the Japanese American Internment, which received a major grant from the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund.

Prior to his academic career, he held a clerkship with the late U.S. District Judge Frank J. Battisti in Cleveland and practiced law with the firm of Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco - while there, he devoted a quarter of his time to pro bono work on behalf of indigent clients. He received a B.A. from the Johns Hopkins University and a J.D. from the University of Michigan.

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Bruce B. Blackwell



Bruce Blackwell Video (.wmv 37.6 Mb 4:06)

Bruce B. Blackwell

Bruce Blackwell formerly served on the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar ("BOG") from 1994-1998. He previously chaired The Florida Bar's (TFB) 1986 Mid-Year Meeting, and The Florida Bar Annual Meeting for 1997. He was Co- Chair for the BOG Disciplinary Review Committee, and liaison for the Practice Management Section and The Equal Opportunities in the Profession Committee. During his BOG service, he also chaired The Solo and Small Firm Special Committee. He was previously appointed by the Florida Supreme Court to its Pro Bono Services Committee overseeing pro bono services statewide, and by the former Chief Justice in 1998 to serve on a select committee to study the need for additional District Courts of Appeal. In late 2006, he was appointed by the Chief Justice to serve on the Chief Justice's Advisory Committee for two years and, in June 2007, was named as a Trustee of The Florida Supreme Court Historical Society and served as President from June 2010-11. In 2010, he was named to the United States Eleventh Circuit Court Planning Committee (one of only six private lawyers) for the 2011 meeting of the Eleventh Circuit in Orlando. In 2010-11, he was appointed by the President of The Florida Bar to a small Special Committee to secure adequate funding for the State's Judiciary from the Legislature.

On April 15, 2008, Mr. Blackwell was the recipient of the 2008 American Bar Association's (ABA) Grassroots Advocacy Award for his sustained and effective lobbying efforts to the United States Congress on behalf of the poor throughout the United States. He is the first Floridian to receive this national award. In June 2008, the Florida Council of Bar Association Presidents awarded him the statewide 2008 Outstanding Voluntary Bar President Award, their highest award. Also in June 2008, Mr. Blackwell was the recipient of the 2008 Judge James G. Glazebrook Memorial Outstanding Member Award by The George C. Young First Central Florida American Inn of Court. The award represents the Inn's highest award for service to the law profession and to the Inn. In 2009, he was the recipient of the Florida State University College of Law Alumni Service Award, its highest alumni award for service.

He served from 1998 through 2009 as a member of The Florida Bar Foundation Board of Directors and helped oversee the disbursement of more than 25 million dollars in legal aid grants statewide each year on behalf of the lawyers of Florida. He concluded his term as President on June 30, 2008, and remains an Endowment Trustee through 2013. He previously chaired the Legal Assistance for the Poor/Law Student Assistance Grant Committee, the Budget and Finance Committee, and for several years was Chair of the Administration of Justice Committee recommending grants for systemic legal issues in Florida. In 2002, he received The Foundation's President's Award for Excellence. In June 2011, he received the Foundation's 34th Medal of Honor, given annually to a Florida lawyer who has demonstrated dedication to The Florida Bar's objectives, "...to inculcate in its members the principles of duty and service to the public, to improve the administration of justice, and to advance the science of jurisprudence." It is considered the highest award bestowed by the legal profession in Florida.

He was honored with the 1996 Judge J. C. "Jake" Stone Legal Aid Society Distinguished Service Award which represents the annual outstanding pro bono service award for the Ninth Circuit, and received the President of the Florida Bar's 1997 and 2013 pro bono service award for the Ninth Circuit. He is the first Orange County lawyer twice honored with this award.

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Exelon



Exelon Video (.wmv 38 Mb 4:10)

Exelon Logo

The Exelon Corporation, one of the nation's largest electric and gas utilities, prides itself on its commitment to employee volunteer service a value exemplified by the company's legal department. Exelon's pro bono program is exceptional and worthy of recognition for several reasons. First, Exelon has demonstrated dedication to the development and delivery of legal services to person of limited means through their pro bono program. Second, Exelon has long contributed to significant work toward developing innovative approaches to delivery of pro bono legal services. Third, Exelon has participated in activities that resulted in satisfying previously unmet needs, and finally, Exelon has successfully litigated pro bono cases that favorably affected underserved populations.

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Patricia Lee



Patricia Lee Video (.wmv 36 Mb 4:00)

Patricia Lee

Patricia Lee is a partner of the Firm practicing primarily in business and commercial litigation, including, but not limited to, partnership/shareholder disputes, contract enforcement/defense, non-competition agreements, and commercial lease review and litigation, and family law. In addition, Patricia also practices in the areas of trademark registration and litigation, collections, mechanic's liens/foreclosures, and medical claims billing. Patricia's range of experience allows her to manage the legal needs of entrepreneurs and small business owners through the Firm's program entitled The Legal Solution for Entrepreneurs & Small Businesses.

Patricia hails from the small town of Lompoc, California, where she graduated near the top of her class. She attended the University of Southern California and obtained a dual degree in psychology and communications in 1997. During her time at USC, Patricia received several accolades for her academic excellence and dedication to campus and community activism. Among the awards she received were the Thurgood Marshall Leadership Award and Order of Troy for academic achievement. After graduating from USC, Patricia worked for one year as an employee at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, California, and assisted in the establishment of the Rosa Parks Community Computer and Learning Center for inner city youth. She then attended the prestigious George Washington University Law School where she obtained her juris doctorate in 2002. Patricia joined the team of Hutchison & Steffen immediately after her graduation from GWU.

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Patricia's dedication to community activism continued at GWU where she was elected as the Community Service Director for the Student Bar Association as well as the Student Director over the Small Business Clinic where she assisted small businesses in economically distressed communities with their legal needs. She also gained valuable legal experience as an intern for the United States Department of Justice, the United States Postal Service, and for a private practitioner focused primarily in employment and labor law, and criminal law.

Today, Patricia serves as a volunteer attorney for the Child Advocacy Program where she represents abused and neglected children in Clark County, Nevada. In addition, she previously served as Treasurer of the Las Vegas Chapter of the National Bar Association, and is the current President of the Las Vegas Chapter of the National Bar Association Foundation. In 2010, Patricia was appointed by Governor Gibbons to serve as Chair of the newly-established Nevada Crime Commission. In 2011, Patricia was appointed to serve as a member of the Self Help Center's Steering Committee by Eighth District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez. In 2012, Patricia began serving on the Pro Bono Advisory Council to support the efforts of Legal Aid Center's Pro Bono Project and she was named Legal Aid's Pro Bono Attorney of the Year. Also, the Las Vegas business publication In Business Las Vegas honored Patricia with its "Women to Watch 2010" award.

When Patricia is not working for the Firm, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Ronnie (a small business owner), and their two children, Brianna and Devin. Patricia also enjoys traveling and reading, and is an avid sports enthusiast.

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Leonard, Street and Deinard



Leonard, Street and Deinard Video (.wmv 38 Mb 4:11)

Leonard, Street and Deinard

Pro bono services have been an important part of the fabric of Leonard, Street and Deinard's firm culture since its earliest days. [In fact, back in 1922, firm founder George Leonard set the stage for a future of pro bono service when he closed the doors of his then-solo practice in downtown Minneapolis to travel to the East Coast for two weeks to represent an indigent client there.] The tradition of pro bono giving continues today, 91 years later. And, each year a new class of attorneys is drawn to our firm of approximately 210 lawyers because of our longstanding commitment to pro bono service, not in spite of it.

Leonard, Street and Deinard's commitment to low-income people is deep and our partnerships are broad. We work annually with the following organizations: Advocates for Human Rights, Project for Pride in Living, Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance, Cancer LegalLine, LegalCORPS, Minnesota Disability Law Center, Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, Children's Law Center of Minnesota, Volunteer Lawyers Network and others. Approximately half of the average, 11,000-13,000 hours donated each year by firm attorneys is given to pro bono work on behalf of these groups. Additionally, 121 non-profit groups received pro bono transactional services in 2012. However, it is the law firm's own Legal Clinic that is solely funded and operated by firm attorneys, that is the signature project and the heart of Leonard, Street and Deinard's pro bono program.

2013 marks the 20th year of service to the patients of the Community-University Health Care Center, located in the heart of the Phillips neighborhood in south Minneapolis. This longstanding partnership services people living in one of the most economically-distressed segments of the Twin Cities population. Back in 1993, responding to the invitation of a pediatrician from the clinic, the firm began helping patients faced with myriad health issues made even more complicated by what for many were life-or-death domestic, housing and immigration issues. Twenty years later, our partnership is still unique. It is one of the first of its kind, a community-based collaboration of law and medicine, that provides holistic services to families. Medical-legal partnerships of this type now number in excess of 75 programs across the nation, but ours

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Jeffrey Trachtman



Jeffrey Trachtman Video (.wmv 37 Mb 4:04)

Jeffrey Trachtman

Mr. Trachtman is a litigation partner who focuses on complex bankruptcy and mass tort litigation and also has experience in such diverse civil practice areas as securities fraud, intellectual property, administrative law, and constitutional law. .

Mr. Trachtman was one of the principal litigators on behalf of breast implant tort claimants in the Dow Corning bankruptcy, helping to fashion and obtain judicial approval for a $3.17 billion settlement, and continues to represent the interests of tort claimants in the Settlement Facility - Dow Corning Trust, including by serving as lead counsel on several Sixth Circuit appeals on plan interpretation issues. He has played active roles in bankruptcy or class action litigation involving asbestos, diet drugs, and other products; helped represent the creditors' committees in the Chrysler and General Motors bankruptcies; and has represented creditors or creditor groups in such other major bankruptcies as Adelphia and Washington Mutual. Mr. Trachtman also won reversal in the Seventh Circuit of a valuation decision in the United Airlines bankruptcy, more than doubling the recovery of LAX Airport bondholders. Earlier in his career, Mr. Trachtman helped lead a team of lawyers that obtained a $90 million recovery in a contract and securities fraud action arising out of a failed merger between Gulf Oil and Cities Service Corp.

Mr. Trachtman served as Chair of Kramer Levin's Pro Bono Committee from 1994 to 2011. During his tenure, the firm and its lawyers received major awards from the American Bar Association, National Law Journal, New York State Bar Association, and Legal Aid Society. In his own pro bono activities, Mr. Trachtman has litigated extensively in the areas of Social Security disability and civil rights and civil liberties, with a particular focus on LGBT rights (including serving as co-counsel with Lambda Legal in the New York State marriage equality litigation). These efforts helped earn the Empire State Pride Agenda's 2009 Equality@Work Award, given in recognition of the firm's "historic pro-bono litigation" on behalf of LGBT people. Mr. Trachtman has received several individual pro bono recognitions, including the 2005 New York State Bar Association President's Pro Bono Service Award. He was co-founder and a longtime director of Cause Effective, an organization that teaches other nonprofits how to generate human and financial resources, and currently Mr. Trachtman served as Chair of Kramer Levin's Pro Bono Committee from 1994 to 2011. During his tenure, the firm and its lawyers received major awards from the American Bar Association, National Law Journal, New York State Bar Association, and Legal Aid Society. In his own pro bono activities, Mr. Trachtman has litigated extensively in the areas of Social Security disability and civil rights and civil liberties, with a particular focus on LGBT rights (including serving as co-counsel with Lambda Legal in the New York State marriage equality litigation). These efforts helped earn the Empire State Pride Agenda's 2009 Equality@Work Award, given in recognition of the firm's "historic pro-bono litigation" on behalf of LGBT people. Mr. Trachtman has received several individual pro bono recognitions, including the 2005 New York State Bar Association President's Pro Bono Service Award. He was co-founder and a longtime director of Cause Effective, an organization that teaches other nonprofits how to generate human and financial resources, and currently serves on the boards of Legal Services NYC and Volunteers of Legal Service.

Mr. Trachtman has presented frequently at the annual Law Firm Pro Bono Conference of the Pro Bono Institute and has also spoken on panels at the American Bankruptcy Institute's New York City Bankruptcy Conference (presentation on substantive consolidation), "Bridge the Gap" CLE programs for the Practicing Law Institute, and Mealey's Breast Implant Litigation Conference in Palm Beach, Florida. He has written articles and commentary on legal and public policy issues for such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Newsday., and The National Law Journal. and has been interviewed and profiled by the New York Law Journal. and Metropolitan Corporate Counsel. Mr. Trachtman has been listed in Legal 500 US and in several editions of New York Super Lawyers.

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Updated: 9/5/2013

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