By Rob Ramage
The Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program (DVAP) presented the Dallas Office of Patton Boggs with the Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year Award at the annual awards reception on October 26th.
Each year, DVAP, a joint project of the Dallas Bar Association and Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, honors the lawyers, judges and other legal professionals who donate pro bono services. This year, the award for Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year was given to the Dallas Office of Patton Boggs. Patton Boggs has a long-standing commitment to the development and delivery of legal services to people of limited means not only here in Texas, but nationwide throughout all of their offices. The firm’s commitment to public service is grounded in the strong belief that lawyers have a profound obligation to give back to their communities. Helping lead that charge is Mike Forshey, Partner and Co-Chair of the Firm’s Pro Bono Committee, who has a long history of pro bono work and despite a busy litigation docket devotes a substantial amount of his time guiding the firm’s pro bono efforts.
In 2011, the Dallas office of Patton Boggs contributed over 8,000 pro bono hours, of which almost 3,000 hours were donated to DVAP clients. Firm-wide, Patton Boggs contributes over 50,000 pro bono hours annually. According to Mr. Forshey, “we are honored as attorneys to help those who are less fortunate and as a firm we are true believers in the many positive aspects of community and pro bono service. We take great pride in our commitment as a firm in giving back to the community and serving those in need.”
At Patton Boggs, all attorneys are encouraged to do pro bono work and associates are required to perform at least 100 hours of pro bono legal services every year. “Our lawyers at Patton Boggs want to help others, we embrace the challenges of helping those who cannot help themselves, and with that culture our attorneys are ready to take on any challenge,” added Mr. Forshey. Pro bono matters undertaken by Patton Boggs are diverse and have included helping indigent clients with matters involving family abuse, divorces, estate matters and landlord tenant disputes, protection of civil rights, political asylum cases for people facing violence or death if they return to their home country and helping our veterans obtain needed benefits. Patton Boggs also assists many worthy charitable organizations and causes which assist those in need.
Patton Boggs recently secured a pro bono victory for the Elizabeth Birt Center for Autism Law and Advocacy (EBCALA). An autistic child enrolled in a Texas public school was physically and illegally restrained and placed in a secluded room. The trauma resulted in respiratory problems requiring medical attention. Homebound services were requested from the school district to allow the child to continue his education; however, the request was denied. After being turned down by other organizations, the family turned to EBCALA and Patton Boggs partner Jennifer Keefe for help. This hotly contested case, including three mediations (the final one being 11 hours), ultimately settled on highly confidential, but extremely favorable terms, which will allow the family to pay for private education for the child.
In addition to Patton Boggs pro bono work with DVAP, the firm is also involved in other pro bono activities throughout Dallas, including Education is Freedom, Texas C-Bar, KickStart Kids, Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, Texas Appleseed, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, The Child Abuse Prevention Center, Autism One and Catholic Charities.
DVAP congratulates Patton Boggs as the 2011 Pro Bono Firm of the Year and thanks each and every one of its attorneys for their service and commitment to providing these pro bono services.
Rob Ramage is an attorney at Anderson Tobin and practices employment, commercial, and intellectual property law. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared at www.dallasbar.org.