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ABA comments on Fourth Department’s award

American Bar Association President William T. Robinson III is recognizing the work of the state Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department.

The Appellate Division will receive a 2012 Pro Bono Publico Award on Aug. 6 from the ABA’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service.

In 2009, the judges of the Fourth Department, under the leadership of Presiding Justice Henry J. Scudder, established the department’s Policy Statement on Pro Bono Legal and Volunteer Services, the first pro bono policy for appellate-court lawyers and staff in New York state.

The policy encourages appellate-court lawyers to set a personal goal of achieving at least 20 hours of pro bono service per year.

“Lawyers are making a positive difference every day all across our great nation,” said Robinson who will present the award to five recipients during the ABA annual meeting in Chicago. “Pro bono work is a key component of our legal system and these good deeds help to fill the void left by devastating budget cuts. Let us celebrate these awardees because they are outstanding examples of lawyer volunteers who make our communities stronger by ensuring meaningful access to justice for thousands of Americans.”

Since the policy was issued, lawyers in the Appellate Division, Fourth Department have provided pro bono service to more than 200 low-income clients through the Volunteer Legal Services Project’s various clinics and Consumer Law Hotline.

The keynote speaker for the luncheon is Cruz Reynoso, a professor of law emeritus at the University of California, Davis, School of Law and former associate justice of the California Supreme Court.

The Pro Bono Publico Awards honor individuals or organizations in the legal community that enhance the human dignity of others by improving or delivering volunteer legal services to the poor or disadvantaged.