Baker & Daniels LLP has honored nine individuals with the Charles L. Whistler Pro Bono Award. Recipients of the award for helping others through pro bono services are partners Joseph E. Miller, Michelle Kaiser Bray, Jennett M. Hill and Martha M. Lemert; associates Suzann Weber Lupton, Kathryn E. Anderson and Emily C. Paavola; consultant Anthony A. Pickell; and legal assistant Betsy R. Smith.
Baker & Daniels' Whistler Award is given on an annual basis to individuals within the firm who have dedicated their time and effort to pro bono projects. The award was established in memory of Charles L. Whistler, a former partner of the firm who set the standard for leadership, public service and community involvement during his time at Baker & Daniels. This is the second year awards have been given.
"Their dedicated efforts continue the tradition of public service demonstrated by Chuck Whistler throughout his career," Baker & Daniels partner Brian K. Burke said in announcing the newest recipients. "We honor Chuck by recognizing these nine individuals for the breadth and depth of their pro bono initiatives at Baker & Daniels."
Joe Miller practices in the firm's exempt organizations group from the downtown Indianapolis office. He is president of the board for the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic. In 2007, Miller assisted in the coordination of an elder law project permitting the training of lawyers to assist low income seniors by drafting end-of-life documents. Baker & Daniels collaborates with NCLC on a number of additional initiatives.
Michelle Bray, a member of Baker & Daniels' intellectual property group, practices out of the downtown Indianapolis office. She is one of the founding members and leaders of the Creative Artist Legal League, which provides legal assistance to income qualified artists. Bray volunteers a considerable amount of time representing CALL clients in a range of contexts.
Jennett Hill practices in the firm's exempt organizations group from the downtown Indianapolis office. She has played an integral role in assisting the Indiana National Guard form a foundation to raise money for a memorial to recognize the guard and its mission. Hill also volunteers as part of the veteran's benefits appellate project and is part of a team of Baker & Daniels attorneys currently providing legal assistance to active duty National Guard personnel being deployed to Iraq in early 2008.
Martha Lemert, a member of Baker & Daniels' labor and employment group, practices out of the firm's Fort Wayne office. She serves on the firm's pro bono committee and helps coordinate pro bono activities in Fort Wayne. In 2007, Lemert arranged for training sessions involving the National Immigration Justice Center and has taken on an individual asylum representative from Chad. She is the Fort Wayne office's first Whistler Award recipient.
Suzann Lupton is a member of the firm's health and life sciences group, practicing out of the downtown Indianapolis office. She has worked with fellow Baker & Daniels associate Chad Priest to form the Indiana Health Advocacy Coalition, a statewide partnership of Indiana health care and community service providers. Lupton also organized and coordinated a program to facilitate the cultural acclimation of Burmese refugees in Indiana and the legal and medical institutions with whom the refugees interact.
Kathryn Anderson practices from Baker & Daniels' South Bend office and is a member of the business litigation practice group. As a new associate, she took on the immigration representation of a Zimbabwean who sought asylum in the United States. Anderson argued that Ndumiso Maseke was at risk of persecution and harm by the Zimbabwean government for his role in the Movement for Democratic Change. She obtained asylum for Maeske and is the South Bend office's first Whistler Award recipient.
Emily Paavola practices in the firm's business litigation group from the downtown Indianapolis office. She spearheaded Baker & Daniels' capital litigation project, leading a team of 12 attorneys in the representation of two death penalty defendants in South Carolina. Paavola was also active in Cornell Law School's death penalty project before joining Baker & Daniels.
Tony Pickell works as a consultant for the firm's labor and employment group and is based in Baker & Daniels' downtown Indianapolis office. He helps lead the firm's Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender initiative and assisted in the formation of a working group of volunteers who assist and advocate for GLBT organizations, affinity groups and individuals. Pickell organized a focus group of GLBT organizational leaders and helped develop a program of training seminars for GLBT organizations and affinity groups.
Betsy Smith supports the firm's business litigation group from the downtown Indianapolis office. A Navy veteran, she helped coordinate a training session on behalf of the Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program. The program — a consortium of the American Legion, Disabled Veterans and related organizations — provides legal assistance for veterans contesting the denial of benefits. Attorneys are prevented by law from collecting fees in these cases, and oftentimes veterans must represent themselves against government attorneys. Smith's work helped the Veterans Consortium provide training and refer attorneys to veterans in need of representation.
Baker & Daniels' pro bono committee, chaired by partner Carl Pebworth, is composed of more than 40 attorneys from various practice group areas and office locations. The committee focuses on the development of public service opportunities, project coordination and overseeing funding requests for pro bono initiatives and activities.
Founded in 1863, Baker & Daniels LLP is one of Indiana's largest law firms. With more than 370 lawyers and consulting professionals, Baker & Daniels serves clients in regional, national and international transactional, regulatory and litigation matters from offices in Indiana, Washington, D.C. and China. For more information about Baker & Daniels, visit www.bakerdaniels.com.