ABA Section of Business Law to Honor Boston-Based Firm and Chicago Lawyer with National Public Service Award
CHICAGO, March 20, 2002 – The Pro Bono Committee of the American Bar Association Section of Business Law will present National Public Service Awards to Chicago lawyer Mary Ann O’Connor and to the Boston-based law firm Goodwin Procter LLP at the section’s Spring Meeting Luncheon in Boston on Friday, April 5.
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.
O’Connor, counsel for Bank One, is chair of the Pro Bono Initiative Implementation Committee of the Public Interest Law Initiative, and chair of PILI’s Transactional Lawyers Working Group. She is also treasurer of PILI and has served on its Board of Governors since 1995.
As a result of O’Connor’s leadership in implementing the Pro Bono Initiative, several Chicago-area law firms and corporate legal departments have stepped up their delivery of pro bono legal services by partnering together on new projects, developing new pro bono programs, and working to resolve obstacles to increased pro bono work.
O’Connor has been actively involved in providing pro bono legal services throughout her 22-year career, and has long been an advocate for involving non-litigators in pro bono work. She spends well over 100 hours per year on pro bono work and community service activities.
Goodwin Procter is a national firm of nearly 500 lawyers, based in Boston and with offices in New York, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. The firm has a long history of providing pro bono legal services to individuals and organizations that could not otherwise afford representation.
In 1999 the firm launched a Pro Bono Initiative to reinforce its commitment to delivering pro bono legal services. As part of the initiative, the firm expanded its Pro Bono Committee to include partners from each of the firm’s offices and practice areas. The expanded committee revised the firm’s relevant policies and procedures to ensure the efficiency of handling pro bono cases, and it made a concerted effort to generate increased interest in participating in pro bono work by promoting the considerable range of opportunities available to lawyers in various practice areas.
Since launching the initiative, the firm has increased its annual pro bono hours by more than 50 percent, up to 19,000 hours in 2001. The firm has also seen its overall lawyer participation increase from 36 percent to 56 percent.
The National Public Service Award was initiated in 1994 as part of the Business Law Section’s pro bono project, A Business Commitment. The ABC project was designed to match business lawyers with legal service programs, community development corporations, charitable organizations or individuals that cannot afford to hire lawyers.
For more information about the Spring Meeting, including a complete listing of all programs and meetings, visit the Section of Business Law Web site.
With more than 60,000 members, the Section of Business Law is one of the ABA’s largest sections. It 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.