On April 1, a group of lawyers from the firm's New York office attended the City Bar Justice Center's 10th annual gala, where WilmerHale and IBM were honored for their leadership and dedication to public service.
New York office Partner-in-Charge Charlie Platt spoke at the gala, noting WilmerHale's longstanding relationship with the center: “It's evident that the center's vision matches ours, and through our partnership we have been able to strengthen our community by helping to make justice a reality for those who may not otherwise be able to afford it.”
The City Bar Justice Center increases access to justice by leveraging the resources of the city's legal community. Through programs such as the Legal Clinic for the Homeless, Veteran's Assistance Program and 9/11 Victim's Compensation Fund, WilmerHale has provided pro bono legal services to dozens of homeless families, veterans, unaccompanied minors and victims of the 9/11 attack. The firm has also partnered with the New York City Bar Association, the parent organization of the center, on a multi-year effort to advocate for sensible reform of immigration laws, led by Partner Jonathan Pressman and former Senior Associate Hunter Landrum.
“The City Bar Justice Center is one of New York's premier pro bono organizations,” says Partner Jay Holtmeier, a former chairman of the center who has served on the organization's board for five years. “This recognition was a great way to showcase WilmerHale's pro bono efforts, and those of the New York office in particular. Most importantly, it's about getting more lawyers involved in projects that have a positive impact on our community.”
One such project is the Legal Clinic for the Homeless, which aims to assist homeless individuals who have been denied public benefits. Associate Ellie Guadiana, who has participated in the program for two years, has been instrumental in orchestrating the firm's involvement.
“Every other month, attorneys from WilmerHale visit a homeless shelter to educate those who sign up for the clinic on the public benefits to which they are entitled,” she explains. “We sometimes refer them to other organizations for support, such as Safe Horizon for immigration matters, or we'll attend fair hearings with them. Just sending an email or making a call on their behalf can make a big difference.” Learn more about the clinic by watching this video featuring Guadiana.
Guadiana, a securities lawyer, was introduced to the clinic by Pro Bono Counsel Chris Herrling while looking for a pro bono project to take on.
“The City Bar Justice Center gives our lawyers the chance to engage in meaningful pro bono work,” says Herrling. “It's a win win—the center's clients get the advocacy of skilled lawyers, and our lawyers receive the mentorship, resources and experience they need to support such clients.”
In addition to Platt and Guadiana, Partners Doug Curtis and Fraser Hunter, Senior Associates Pablo Kapusta and Matthew Galeotti, Associate Elliot Shackelford, and Public Service Manager Anne Bowie also attended the gala.