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NYSBA announces award winners

For dedication in helping low-income New Yorkers gain access to quality legal services, three attorneys and a nonprofit organization have been honored with the Denison Ray Awards, given by the Committee on Legal Aid of the New York State Bar Association.

“Thousands of New Yorkers received access to justice because of the skilled and zealous representation of this year’s Denison Ray Award recipients,” said President Glenn Lau-Kee of New York City (Kee & Lau-Kee). “They strengthen our communities and improve confidence in the justice system. It is a privilege to recognize their hard work and commitment to the poor.”

The awards were presented Thursday during the 2014 Legal Assistance Partnership Conference.

Recipients of this year’s Denison Ray Awards are:

Alan S. Harris of Rochester, Legal Services Program Director Award: Harris is the president and chief executive officer of the Legal Aid Society of Rochester. Under his leadership, the organization developed specialized programs in domestic violence, housing, Hispanic outreach and immigration. The Legal Aid Society has represented more than 200,000 people who otherwise might have gone unrepresented during the 24 years that Harris had led the organization.

Lori M. O’Brien of Rochester, Civil Legal Services Individual Attorney Award: O’Brien, supervising attorney of Legal Assistance of Western NY, was recognized for developing a community partnership to address the legal and non-legal needs of Rochester’s low-income communities. As a result of her work, more at-risk clients were able to connect directly with attorneys for their legal matters.

Susan C. Antos of Albany, Civil Legal Services Individual Attorney Award: Antos, senior staff attorney of the Empire Justice Center, was cited for her efforts to help low-income families access public benefits.

Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York of Albany, Nonprofit Organization Award: Consisting of twelve attorneys in four offices across the state, Prisoners’ Legal Services provides legal representation, assistance and advocacy to indigent prisoners housed in New York state Correctional Facilities.

The Denison Ray Awards are named for the late Denison Ray, former executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York. He died in 1994.