On September 11, 2014, Sidley received the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project’s Exceptional Service Award at the Project’s annual Volunteer Recognition & Awards Event in Washington, D.C. One of two firms to be recognized with the award, Sidley was honored for its commitment to providing pro bono legal services to Alabama’s death row inmates and for its work on the successful appeal of the capital murder conviction and death sentence of William Ziegler. The Sidley lawyers representing Mr. Ziegler include partners Ben Nagin, John Lavelle and Andy Hart, and associates Francesca Brody, Michael Mann, and Ashley Pfeiffer. New York partner Ben Nagin accepted the award on behalf of the Firm.
The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs honored Sidley lawyers Jim Bendernagel and Justin Benson at the Committee's 2014 Wiley Branton Luncheon for their work in a housing voucher discrimination case. Our client, a civil rights organization, sued a realty company for refusing to rent to housing testers based on their perceived source of income, which is illegal under District law. The luncheon is named in honor of the late Sidley partner and prominent civil rights lawyer Wiley Branton.
In May 2014, Gwen Hochman Stewart in Sidley’s Chicago office received the Award for Excellence in Pro Bono Service from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Gwen received the award for her work bringing the copyright-infringement action Suarez v. Glassner, on behalf of a local artist whose painting was copied by a picture framer and resold.
In April 2014, the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association awarded Sidley its 2014 National Public Service Award. In selecting Sidley, Pro Bono Committee Chair William Woodward said that the firm stood out for its “innovative and timely” Africa-Asia Agricultural Enterprise Pro Bono Program. “The unique structure and the international scope of this project, in addition to the variety of other pro bono projects in which the firm participates, are an outstanding model that the Section is excited to recognize.”
In February 2014, Sidley Los Angeles lawyer Sean Commons was honored by California Lawyer magazine with a 2014 California Lawyer “Attorney of the Year” Award for leading the Sidley team that worked with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Stanford Law School Immigrants’ Rights Clinic on Rodriguez v. Hayes, which established the right of thousands of immigrants subject to prolonged detention in California to a bond hearing after six months.
In conjunction with National Pro Bono Week, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia has established the “Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll” to recognize D.C. Bar members who provide 50 hours of pro bono service or more per year. Those providing 100 hours of pro bono service are recognized on the “High Honor Roll.” 132 Sidley lawyers (up from 120 the year before) were listed on the Court’s honor roll posted in March 2014 for their pro bono work in 2013, and 75 of the 132 lawyers devoted more than 100 hours to pro bono service in 2013.
For the sixth consecutive year, the chief judges of the District of Columbia federal courts honored Sidley’s DC office at the “40 at 50” Judicial Pro Bono Recognition Breakfast. Established by the D.C. Circuit Judicial Conference Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services, the “40 at 50” breakfast recognizes law firms reporting that at least 40 percent of their lawyers devoted 50 or more hours to pro bono work in the previous year.
Sidley received the 2013 Pro Bono Publico Award at LatinoJustice PRLDEF’s Annual Awards Gala The letter announcing the award cites the ways in which the Firm has been supportive of LatinoJustice over the last few years, including most recently preparing an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in the Shelby County v. Holder Voting Rights Act case. Partner Maria Melendez serves on LatinoJustice’s Board.
Bet Tzedek in Los Angeles presented its 2013 Elyse S. Kline Justice Award for Pro Bono Attorney of the Year to Andy Dunbar and Thomas Powell (both lawyers in Sidley’s Los Angeles office) for their work successfully representing a couple who sought permanent guardianship of their four-year-old granddaughter.
Sidley Austin LLP received a Washington Lawyers’ Committee Outstanding Achievement Award in June 2013 in recognition of Sidley’s work with the Fair Housing Project on Johnson v. Wingate, in which we collected a judgment on behalf of a pro bono client with a visual disability who was denied an upper floor apartment because of her disability. The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) honored Marjorie Baltazar, a lawyer in Sidley’s Chicago office with a Rising Star Award at its 14th Annual Human Rights Awards luncheonin June 2013. Marjorie Baltazar was recognized for her work in obtaining U.S. asylum for a gay man from Indonesia, successfully concluding a three-year effort.
Sidley’s other recent pro bono honors and awards are described in the 2014 Pro Bono Community Service Report, starting at page 42.