The Baker Benson Pro Bono Award recognizes lawyers for both excellence of personal pro bono practice and work to expand the provision of pro bono representation to persons of limited means.
The Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award honors paralegals, paraprofessionals, consultants and operational staff members for excellent personal pro bono service or outstanding contributions to FaegreBD's pro bono program.
The 2013 honorees have contributed to access to justice and representation of the disadvantaged in multiple and varied ways, reflecting FaegreBD's longstanding commitment to pro bono service and multifaceted pro bono practice.
The Faegre Baker Daniels Foundation made a contribution in each recipient's name to the charitable organization of his or her choice. The awards were presented at a reception on April 23.
2013 Baker Benson Pro Bono Award Recipients
Bridget M. Ahmann, Shane A. Anderson and David Snieg in Minneapolis were recognized as a team for their excellent representation of a guardian ad litem of a 4-year-old child with special needs in a juvenile court termination of parental rights matter. The team's efforts resulted in court rulings which achieved a permanent adoptive home for the child. Firm lawyers and paralegals recorded nearly 3,000 pro bono hours on this matter over four years, as part of the firm's Justice for Kids pro bono initiative. With numerous procedural delays and judicial reassignments, the case became the most complex, challenging juvenile court matter the firm has handled since the establishment of its Justice for Kids pro bono initiative in 1998. The team directed a charitable contribution to the Children's Law Center of Minnesota.
Sarah Jenkins, a business litigation associate in Indianapolis, was honored for her outstanding representation of vulnerable clients in guardianship and probate matters through the firm's Persons With Disabilities Pro Bono Project. In particular, Jenkins recently represented a client under guardianship whose home and personal belongings were destroyed without notice to him and without his consent. The Indiana Court of Appeals ruling that the due process rights of Jenkins' client were violated set precedent governing the manner in which guardians perform their duties in Indiana and is significant nationally for the interpretation of due process rights afforded to persons under a guardianship. Jenkins selected the Humane Society of Indianapolis as the recipient of a contribution from the firm's foundation.
Carl R. Pebworth, a construction and real estate litigation partner in Indianapolis, was recognized for his longstanding commitment and leadership at the firm and in the community to improving access to and delivery of pro bono legal services to persons of limited means. Projects in which Pebworth has played an instrumental role include the Bet Tzedek Holocaust Survivors Reparations Project, the Indiana Medical-Legal Partnership with Wishard Hospital and the Indiana Lawyers for Soldiers program. He also guided legacy firm Baker & Daniels to join the Pro Bono Institute Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge in 2006 and institutionalized its commitment to pro bono service. Pebworth selected the Indiana University Maurer Law School Pro Bono Fellowship Program to receive a charitable contribution.
Robert L. Schnell Jr., a business litigation partner in Minneapolis, was recognized for his sustained work since 2006 leading FaegreBD's team of more than 50 personnel representing a death row inmate in post-conviction proceedings. Schnell's team identified a series of constitutional and procedural errors in the client's trial, at which he was convicted of capital murder and received the death penalty. The team filed a petition requesting a new trial, and the matter remains on appeal in state court. A contribution directed by Schnell was made to the Catholic Charities Hope Streets Program, which serves homeless youth and young adults.
2013 Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award Recipients
Judy L. Ferber, a business litigation paralegal in Indianapolis, was honored for her long record of pro bono work in community-based legal clinics and matters serving low-income and disadvantaged persons. In 2012, Ferber helped create and organize the first ever pro bono homeowner property tax clinic in Indianapolis, mapping out an intake process and ensuring necessary resources were available to provide high-quality service to the 22 clients served. She has also been a long-time volunteer and organizer of the firm's participation in the Indianapolis Bar Association Ask A Lawyer program. Ferber directed charitable contributions to Allerton Park, a retreat center and park at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, and Baby Fold, an adoption agency.
Susan M. Haag, a finance and restructuring paralegal in Denver, received the award in recognition of her pro bono service to secure benefits for a highly decorated, disabled combat veteran returning from the war in Iraq. Haag provided invaluable assistance in preparing the client's application for Combat-Related Special Compensation, which must include detailed evidence and argument proving that an applicant's disabilities incurred during service were "combat related." She also recently assisted in three pro bono matters referred to the firm by the Faculty of Federal Advocates Bankruptcy Pro Bono Program. At Haag's request, a contribution was made to the National Veterans Legal Services Program, the nonprofit organization which referred the combat veteran to the firm.
Jennifer M. McGaffey, a product liability and environmental paralegal in Minneapolis, is the lead paralegal in the firm's Housing Court Clinic team, which provides advice to low-income tenants seeking legal assistance in defending eviction actions, pursuing affirmative actions to force repairs to substandard housing, or seeking expungement of unsupported evictions from their housing records. McGaffey is also the co-leader and lead paralegal for the Birth Certificate Section of the Project Homeless Connect Legal Team, working to secure out-of-state birth certificates for people who lack proper identification necessary to secure housing and employment. A contribution was made in McGaffey's honor to Heading Home Minnesota, a statewide initiative to end the cycle of homelessness.