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VIP Awards Ceremony 2018
April 19, 2018 @ 5:30 pm - 7:30 pmFree
Congratulations to our winners, and thank you to everyone who attended!
Pro Bono Impact Award
Chris Cognato, Esq. — Ballard Spahr LLP
Chris first joined the family of VIP volunteers in 2008, by participating in a LawWorks clinic. In the years since, Chris’ engagement with VIP has deepened, as he has taken full representation cases both in corporate matters for LawWorks clients, and in litigation matters on behalf of individuals. Chris also has contributed to VIP’s client education training initiatives. Due to his diligence in his work, kindness with his clients, and continual efforts to expand his pro bono service, Chris exemplifies the kind of volunteer who makes a significant, lasting impact on VIP and its clients.
Trailblazing Partner Award
White & Williams LLP
White & Williams’ tangled title practice group has expanded both in number of volunteer attorneys and number of cases taken – the result of a group of conscientious attorneys focusing their pro bono efforts on behalf of Philadelphia residents. The firm’s innovative, inter-departmental pro bono staffing model, led by practice group leader Nancy Frantz, not only helps clients, who have access to a wide range of expertise on their cases, but also benefits the volunteering attorneys. The firm’s pro bono engagement extends well beyond tangled title cases and is strongly encouraged by firm leadership, especially Patti Santelle and Wes Payne. Through their pro bono service, White & Williams attorneys are helping to preserve family assets and stabilize Philadelphia neighborhoods.
MVP of VIP Award
Bella Schnall, Esq. — Greenblatt Pierce Funt & Flores LLC
Billie has been championing VIP’s mission and her pro bono clients for twenty-five years. Through her service on dozens and dozens of VIP cases, Billie has demonstrated her dedication to serving clients with the most complex legal challenges and facing the greatest barriers to access to justice. Billie focuses on representing clients in areas of pressing, unmet need: divorce and custody. As a knowledgeable veteran in the family law field, and one of few Spanish-speaking practitioners in the area, Billie’s service and impact extend well beyond her work on individual cases. By serving as a mentor to fellow volunteers and VIP staff alike, Billie is an invaluable asset to VIP and the Philadelphia legal community.
Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. Award, Solo Practitioner
Mark-Allen Taylor Esq.
While building and maintaining a robust solo practice, Mark is one of VIP’s most energetic and dedicated family law volunteers. He dives into each case with gusto, and excels at issue-spotting for his clients and securing them assistance in different areas, including by enlisting other volunteer attorneys. Over the years, he has accepted dozens of cases from VIP, representing numerous divorce and custody clients. Mark significantly increased his VIP caseload in 2017 and, through his pro bono service, is helping address an area of critical and unmet need.
Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. Award, Small Firm
Eisenberg Rothweiler Winkler Eisenberg & Jeck P.C.
In a telling display of a strong commitment to pro bono service, every attorney at Eisenberg Rothweiler Winkler Eisenberg & Jeck P.C. has taken at least one VIP case over the years. As a group, the firm’s eight attorneys have assisted with 50 VIP cases. In addition to deploying their in-house torts expertise, attorneys from the firm have accepted an extraordinary variety of cases, including guardianship, landlord-tenant, estate planning, and LawWorks cases. In 2017, the firm took five new VIP cases, and its attorneys never hesitate to say “yes!” to requests to mentor other volunteers.
Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. Award, Medium or Large Firm
Pepper Hamilton LLP
Pepper Hamilton’s pro bono service with VIP in 2017 was as broad as it was deep. The firm’s caseload with VIP almost tripled from 2016 to 2017, while the number of its attorneys volunteering with VIP doubled. Attorneys from the firm accepted dozens of cases – ranging from probate and landlord-tenant matters to deed transfers and LawWorks cases. In addition to Pepper Hamilton supporting a thriving tangled title practice group, young associates at the firm are spearheading a new focus on landlord-tenant cases, responding to an area of high client need.
Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. Award, Corporation
Comcast NBCUniversal made a splash in 2017, quadrupling the number of its attorneys volunteering with VIP. In partnership with Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, Comcast co-sponsored a LawWorks Small Business Clinic. Dozens of members of Comcast’s legal team provided legal advice to a diverse group of local entrepreneurs, many of them immigrants, at the clinic. Following the clinic, and under the leadership of Derek Squire and Harrison Lee, Comcast evidenced its commitment to pro bono service by signing up to provide ongoing representation on discrete legal matters for small businesses and nonprofits.