2009 John Minor Wisdom Awards Recognize Pro Bono and Public Service
CHICAGO, April 1, 2009 – The American Bar Association Section of Litigation will recognize Lynn A. Girton and Kenneth J. Parsigian of Boston and the Minnesota law firm of Leonard, Street and Deinard with the annual John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award for their contributions to public service. The awards will be presented at a luncheon during the section’s annual conference at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis on Friday, May 1. Attorney General Holder will be the keynote speaker.
“The section is proud to recognize the contributions of these outstanding lawyers in providing access to justice for those in need,” said Section Chair Robert L. Rothman of Atlanta. “This year’s recipients – Lynn Girton, Ken Parsigian and the law firm of Leonard, Street and Deinard – were selected from an outstanding group of lawyers nominated from around the country. Each has made a substantial impact in their communities through a sustained commitment to providing pro bono representation.”
Lynn A. Girton is chief counsel of the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association and practices in the field of family law, as well as handles employment matters and civil rights concerns. Girton has taught many courses and has published several articles and is the recipient of the Massachusetts Bar Association Pro Bono Legal Services Award. She has served as senior managing attorney of the employment unit of Greater Boston Legal Services and serves on the Boston Bar Association Public Service Committee. Additionally, she has served as a mentor in the leadership institute sponsored by the Center for Legal Aid Education.
Ken Parsigian is a partner in Goodwin Procter’s Boston office, where he is the incoming chair of the pro bono committee and also the chair of the mass torts/products liability practice group. Parsigian has handled scores of pro bono cases, and has been a leader in successfully litigating wrongful conviction cases. He also played a leading role in convincing the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to find that same sex couples have a constitutional right to marry and in fending off challenges to that ruling, both in the courts and the legislature. His current pro bono work includes working with the Youth Advocacy Project, representing women inmates in a class action against prison system for substandard treatment, and supervising teams of young lawyers in representing immigrants seeking political asylum in the United States to avoid persecution and torture in their native countries.
Accepting the award for Leonard, Street and Deinard will be Jane Godfrey, a shareholder in the firm’s Minneapolis office. Leonard, Street and Deinard is among Minnesota’s leading business and litigation law firms, with locations in Minneapolis, Mankato, and St. Cloud, Minnesota, and Washington, D.C. For 87 years its lawyers have demonstrated a commitment to pro bono legal services and community service. Its legal clinic was established in 1993 in the economically distressed and underserved Phillips neighborhood near downtown Minneapolis and is a unique partnership with the Community-University Health Care Center, which is supported by the University of Minnesota. This collaboration of law and medicine was one of the first in the country. Today, the integration of pro bono legal services with the provision of health care to the poor is the work of many partnerships throughout the nation. The firm’s pro bono services also include representation of individuals referred by area legal services groups and nonprofits.
Named for a renowned Fifth Circuit judge and civil rights pioneer, the John Minor Wisdom Award recognizes lawyers who have made a significant contribution to the quality of justice in the legal profession and in their communities by making legal assistance accessible to people with low incomes, the disenfranchised and other underrepresented groups. The award honors lawyers from all areas of practice, including career public interest lawyers, lawyers from private firms and corporate counsel.
For more information about Judge Wisdom, the award and its recipients visit www.abanet.org/litigation/committees/probono/jmwa.html.
The ABA Section of Litigation, with more than 70,000 members, includes trial lawyers, judges, and others involved in all aspects of litigation and the dispute resolution process. The section is dedicated to promoting justice both domestically and internationally and enhancing public understanding of and respect for the legal profession.
With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.