ABA Section of Business Law to Honor General Electric and DC Lawyer William Kelly Jr. for Service to the Disadvantaged
COLUMBUS, OH, March 22, 2000 — The Pro Bono Committee of the American Bar Association Section of Business Law will present National Public Service Awards to the General Electric Corporate Legal Organization and to Washington, D.C., lawyer William C. Kelly Jr., at the section’s Spring Meeting Luncheon in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday, March 24.
The National Public Service Award is presented annually to individuals, firms, or corporate legal departments that have demonstrated a commitment to providing free legal services to the poor in a business context. The awards will be presented at a 12:30 p.m. luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
The General Electric Corporate Legal Organization has distinguished itself through the pivotal role it has played in the creation and continued support of the Pro Bono Partnership, a tax-exempt public charity dedicated to serving the business legal needs of non-profit organizations serving the poor. Since its creation in 1997, the Partnership has become a model program for offering pro bono business legal services through its efforts in helping organizations that work in the areas of health and human services, affordable housing, and neighborhood revitalization.
In its first two years, the Pro Bono Partnership has enlisted more than 300 volunteer lawyers, primarily from corporate law departments, who have provided free legal services to more than 160 community based non-profit organizations that needed but could not afford corporate and business related legal assistance. More than 30 GE lawyers have donated their legal services as volunteers for many of the Partnership’s clients, offering advice and counsel on matters related to corporate structure and governance; contracts and leases; real estate; employment law; environmental law; tax law and tax exempt status; regulatory compliance; and mergers, bankruptcy, and dissolution.
In acknowledging the award, Ben W. Heineman Jr., GE’s senior vice president, general counsel and secretary said, “The simple message from this award is that corporate law departments around the country can use the Partnership as a model to encourage their in-house lawyers to deliver desperately needed legal services to financially strapped community organizations.”
Kelly is a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Latham & Watkins, where he is a member of the Finance and Real Estate Department and the Pro Bono Committee. From 1996-1999 Kelly served as chair of the Pro Bono Committee, and was instrumental in increasing the firm’s total number of pro bono hours from 2,000 hours per year to 6,200 hours per year.
Throughout his career, Kelly has been tireless in his efforts in promoting and providing pro bono representation to organizations serving the disadvantaged. One of his principal contributions has been the cultivation and nurturing of a pro bono practice in the often-overlooked area of transactional law. Through his leadership, Kelly has encouraged dozens of corporate and real estate lawyers to donate their services to non-profit organizations on a pro bono basis.
In 1999 Kelly won the District of Columbia Bar Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award. He serves on the Advisory Committee of the Community Economic Development Pro Bono Project of the D.C. Bar Public Service Activities Corporation. The project received the 1999 Frederick B. Abramson Award, another of the highest honors bestowed by the D.C. Bar.
With more than 50,000 members, the ABA Section of Business Law provides business lawyers with education and analysis that furthers the development and improvement of business law and helps its members serve their clients competently, efficiently and professionally.
The American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. With more than 400,000 members, the ABA provides law school accreditation, continuing legal education, information about the law, programs to assist lawyers and judges in their work, and initiatives to improve the legal system for the public.