Pro Bono Awards Luncheon


 The 19th Annual Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada Pro Bono Awards Luncheon was held on December 13, 2019. View the event program and see below for information about this year’s awardees. Thank you to our generous sponsors , table purchasers  and Nevada Business Magazine!

2019 AWARD WINNERS

Pro Bono Attorney of the Year: Mary E. Bacon
Law Firm of the Year: 
Snell & Wilmer
Lied Award for Most Hours for Law Firm: 
Holland & Hart
Lied Award for Most Cases for Law Firm: Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie & The Dickerson Karacsonyi Group
Lied Award for Most Hours for Attorney: Dawn Hathaway Thoman
Lied Award for Most Cases for Attorney: Marshal S. Willick
William S. Boyd Award of Excellence: Southwest Gas
Justice Nancy Becker Pro Bono Award of Judicial Excellence: Honorable Richard F. Boulware
Award of Excellence: Brittnie T. Watkins
Vince A. Consul Memorial Pro Bono Award: Kevin Hernandez
Louis Wiener Service Award: Shannon Wilson
Myrna Williams Children’s Pro Bono Award: Meng Zhong
Public Interest Law Student of Distinction: Edgar Cervantes
Ask-A-Lawyer Community Commitment Award: Glenn C. Schepps
Volunteer Education Advocate Award: Leora Abrams

100 Hour Club             20+ Hours per Attorney Heroes Club                           

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Pro Bono Attorney of the Year

Mary E. Bacon

Mary

This prestigious award recognizes an attorney whose life and practice over the past year serves as a singular inspiration to others to embrace or renew a dedication to volunteerism on behalf of our most vulnerable clients in need. This year’s recipient is a complex business litigation attorney. She practices in State and Federal matters, focusing on construction disputes, breach of contract matters, and defending financial institutions. Despite a full caseload, she donated an incredible 221 hours of pro bono legal services to her clients this past year and also volunteered for several Ask-A-Lawyer sessions.

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Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year

Snell & Wilmer

Snell

This year’s recipient of the Law Firm of the Year Award goes to a firm with a truly exemplary commitment to Legal Aid Center, Pro Bono services, and access to justice. This firm’s Las Vegas team contributed over 1250 hours this year, an impressive accomplishment for an office with fewer than 40 attorneys. Amazingly, they had 7 attorneys in the 50 hour club adn three of their attorneys in the 100 hour club! This firm is active in several of our programs, including the Nevada Supreme Court Appellate Program, our CAP program, and in our US District Court Federal pro bono program. Two of their associates recently obtained a big win for their infant CAP client, clearing the way for her adoption following a 3-day termination of parental rights trial. This firm’s Las Vegas team also earned a particularly meaningful victory in US District Court for a young U.S. girl in real jeopardy. The girl was removed to another country and was in grave danger. The young child and her grandmother wanted to write a different, more hopeful script for her future; one full of hope and opportunity. This year’s honoree firm fought that legal battle mightily in federal court to make that a reality.

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Lied Awards

Lied Awards are given in recognition of the Lied Foundation Trust, a foundation which has significantly contributed to our organization for more than a decade. We recognize firms and individuals who excelled in their pro bono efforts.

Most Pro Bono Hours Law Firm

Holland & Hart, LLP

HH

This year’s award goes to a law firm that has successfully institutionalized a culture of giving back, embodying the highest ideals of the attorney’s professional responsibility of pro bono service. This firm consistently makes pro bono an integral part of their culture and identity. Over the past year this firm donated 1577 hours of pro bono legal work through the Pro Bono Project, claiming the number one spot for number of hours. This effort was undertaken by just 24 attorneys in their Las Vegas office, averaging out to over 65 hours per attorney who did pro bono. The managing partner of their Las Vegas office herself set the example with over 100 hours of pro bono in addition to her volunteer hours with the Nevada Bar Foundation and her extremely busy practice.

Most Pro Bono Hours Attorney

Dawn Hathaway Thoman

HH

This years award goes to an attorney who makes pro bono a core part of her practice. She has completely embraced the work of helping children in the CAP program, and as a result has made a huge difference in the lives of her young clients. In the past year alone, she contributed an astonishing 428 hours of time serving children in the foster care system, to ensure their wishes are represented in the process of finding safe, loving, and permanent homes.

Most Pro Bono Cases Law Firm

Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie & The Dickerson Karacsonyi Law Group

HHHH

This year, we have a tie: two firms who went above and beyond in terms of taking on new pro bono matters. Our winners both accepted 26 new pro bono cases this past year in a variety of areas of law, including legal assistance to our service members and veterans, CAP, consumer, bankruptcy, federal, probate, divorce and custody, name change and gender marker cases, and Nevada Supreme Court appeals. They are two firms we acknowledge every year because every year they do so much for so many in our community.

Most Pro Bono Cases Attorney

Marshal S. Willick

Marshal

This year’s recipient has been a consistent, tremendous supporter of pro bono for decades. His exemplary dedication to serving Legal Aid Center and its clients is unmatched. This past year he accepted 20 new cases from Legal Aid Center’s Pro Bono Project.
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Access to Justice Award of Excellence

Brittnie T. Watkins

Brit

This award is one we do not present every year, because it is not every year that a firm or an attorney exhibits the exceptional traits required to earn the distinction. It is reserved for occasions when we need to bestow a special recognition to someone who has gone above and beyond expectations on a particular case or matter. As you may know, one of the pro bono opportunities available to attorneys is the Federal Pro Bono program. Through this program, federal judges can refer cases filed by pro se litigants for pro bono assignment. This year’s awardee accepted one of these cases and obtained a tremendous outcome for her client. As if that were not enough, our award winner also handled two CAP cases this past year where she represented children in foster care. She is someone we turn to when we have a special case that needs a special touch. Despite being a busy associate practicing in complex commercial litigation, our award winner’s dedication led to her donating 288 hours of pro bono time to these cases.
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Justice Nancy Becker Pro Bono Award of Judicial Excellence

The Honorable Richard F. Boulware

Judge

This award was named after Nevada Supreme Court Justice Nancy Becker, who founded the Pro Bono Project in 1985. For years, she nurtured the Project when few believed the concept would work. Her namesake award recognizes members of the judiciary who have given time, energy, and influence to encourage pro bono work and to promote access to justice. This years recipient is a native Nevadan who went to Harvard undergrad and Columbia Law School before clerking for a federal judge in New York and joining the Federal Defender’s office in New York. Fortunately, he decided to return to Nevada and was appointed to the Federal bench in 2014. He is a jurist who believes that access to justice is an integral part of the rule of law. He made it a personal mission by offering and arranging a trial skills academy for those attorneys willing to take pro bono cases from the federal court. He participates in trial trainings for legal aid attorneys. Every time you see this honoree, he wants to talk about another way to help improve access to justice and pro bono – it’s just part of who he is.
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William S. Boyd Award of Excellence

Southwest Gas

Gas

This award signifies exceptional leadership and a commitment to pro bono services by a corporate or business entity. This year’s recipient has distinguished itself as a champion and key partner of Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada for more than a decade. This company contributed significantly toward the building of Legal Aid Center’s new headquarters and to Legal Aid Center’s endowment campaign. It supported Legal Aid Center through its employee driven charitable giving program which helps raise awareness and directs charitable giving to worthy nonprofits. Its regulatory lawyers have begun accepting pro bono cases. Its commitment to Nevada and those in need in the community is exemplary.
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Vince Consul Memorial Pro Bono Award

Kevin Hernandez

Kevin

This award is given in memory of Vince Consul, an attorney who was a champion for access to justice and pro bono. We honor his memory by awarding an attorney who embodies what is best in our profession and who has gone above and beyond to assist a client with a civil matter. This year’s recipient understands that low-income Nevadans can be easy prey for those eager to take advantage of them, and he truly cares about protecting his clients from consumer fraud, identity theft, and abusive debt collection. This recipient has demonstrated his commitment by donating nearly 130 hours of time to his pro bono clients. He also presented an impressive CLE on Identify Theft to our staff attorneys and volunteers.

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Louis Wiener Pro Bono Service Award

Shannon Wilson

sw

Our Family Justice Project handles some of the most heartbreaking cases we see. Louie was a prominent local attorney who cared deeply about our community and one of the first lawyers in our community who dedicated himself to helping victims of domestic violence on a pro bono basis. This year’s recipient stepped up to the plate in a huge way to and gave of her time and energy to ensure her client’s interest had been protected and provided a sense of reassurance to her client. She has taken several other cases as well. In her usual practice, this year’s recipient focuses on family law but she also practices administrative and regulatory law as well as insurance litigation. She donated 284 hours of pro bono time and helped out with Ask-A-Lawyer sessions this past year.
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Myrna Williams Children’s Pro Bono Award

Meng Zhong

Meng

Representing children with broken bones, cigarette burns and murdered siblings is really brutal and heart wrenching. It’s also really rewarding when you are able to represent them and make a difference in their life. Each year we present the Myrna Williams Children’s Pro Bono Award to a volunteer who has done an outstanding job in representing our many child clients. The award is given in honor of Myrna, who advocated for the rights of women and children in the Legislature and at the County level for years and who helped us establish our Children’s Attorneys Project. This year’s winner volunteered over 100 hours last year to representing abused and neglected children and mentoring other CAP attorneys. In addition, he also volunteered at Ask-A-Lawyer sessions.


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Volunteer Education Advocate Award

Leora Abrams

Leora

Place yourself in the shoes of a youth in foster care. You were abused or neglected at home, you’ve been removed from your home and now you are struggling in school due to behavioral or developmental reasons. You are at risk of failing unless you receive additional educational services. But there is no parent to advocate for you and your case worker is prohibited from taking this role under federal law. This is where Legal Aid Center comes in. We created a program that matches non-attorney volunteers with at-risk foster youth to ensure they are not left behind in school. We recruit and train volunteers to become fierce advocates for these students. This year’s award winner is an amazing volunteer for her dedication and advocacy in this area. She is in her 4th year at UNLV where she is in the Honors Program, majoring in Biology with a minor in Psychology and Neuroscience. She became a volunteer in 2018 and since that time, she has taken on some of our most challenging cases, advocating for 25 foster children with educational needs.

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Public Interest Law Student of Distinction

Edgar Cervantes

Edgar

We are so fortunate to have one of the finest law schools in the nation right here in our community. The William S. Boyd School of Law has been committed to public interest law, pro bono service, and a partnership with our organization, since its inception. The Public Interest Law Student of Distinction Award recognizes a law student who has made a substantial commitment to the community by doing public interest work and promoting access to justice. Our recipient is a distinguished third year student at Boyd. He is an Articles Editor for the Nevada Law Journal, a Public Interest Fellow, serves as the Vice President of Community Involvement with the Public Interest Law Association, and serves as the Community Service Director for the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy.

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Ask-A-Lawyer Community Commitment Award

Glenn C. Schepps

The recipient of this award volunteered at 19 family Ask-A-Lawyers this year. He consulted with grateful participants, like the mother of 4, who was served with stacks of divorce & custody papers and wanted to know if and how she could fight her case. This is only one example of the many lives our volunteer touched. He empowered dozens of terrified self-represented litigants to proceed in an unfamiliar arena.
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100 Hour Club

400+ Hours
Dawn Hathaway Thoman
300+ Hours
Emily A. Buchwald
Lauren D. Calvert
Christopher M. Cannon
Robert Dickerson
David J. Freeman
Amanda L. Ireland
Carl A. Lindstrom
Abraham Smith
200+ Hours
Mary E. Bacon
William Curran
Kyle A. Ewing
Richard C. Gordon
Evan G. Hall
Nicholas R. Shook
Eric D. Walther
Brittnie T. Watkins
Shannon R. Wilson
100+ Hours
Constance L. Akridge
John R. Blackmon
Gian A. Brown
Janice Brown
Robert J. Cassity
Benjamin B. Childs
Richard L. Crane
Stephen A. Davis
Shirley A. Derke
Angela H. Dows
Emily A. Ellis
Dean Jason Ferris
Lynn S. Fulstone
Sydney Gambee
Jennifer Golanics
Marjorie A. Guymon
Ryan A. Hamilton
Kari J. Hanratty
Cindie D. Hernandez
Kevin L. Hernandez
Daniel S. Ivie
Tiffany Kahler
Mona Kaveh
Kristofer D. Leavitt
Anat R. Levy
Michelle T. Lobello
Kate C. Lowenhar-Fisher
Dawn M. Lozano
Jason C. Makris
Racheal H. Mastel
Lisa A. McClane
Patrick C. McDonnell
Michael T. McLoughlin
Robert McPeak
Christopher R. Myers
Dan F. Polsenberg
Kristopher S. Pre
Carrie J. Primas
Lisa A. Rasmussen
Ava M. Schaefer
Bradley S. Schrager
Therese M. Shanks
Debra L. Spinelli
Sean E. Story
Kelly B. Stout
Stephen Swinton
Matthew R. Tsai
Michael W. Wadley
Madison P. Zornes-Vela

20+ Hours Per Attorney Heroes Club

The inspirational goal in Nevada is for every lawyer to provide at least 20 hours of pro bono services per year. These law firms met and / or exceeded this goal by donating 20 pro bono hours or more per attorney!
Law Firms with 15+ Attorneys
Ballard Sphar
Holland & Hart
Hutchison & Steffen
Garman Turner Gordon
Snell & Wilmer

Law Firms with 6 – 14 Attorneys

Armstrong Teasdale
Black & Lobello
Kemp Jones & Coulthard
Pisanelli Bice
The Dickerson Karacsonyi Law Group
Wolf Rifkin Shapiro
Schulman & Rabkin

Law Firms with 1 -5 Attorneys
Aldrich Law Firm
Amen Law Group
Anat Levy & Associates
Aquino Law Group
Bailey Kennedy
Ballstaedt Law Firm
Blackmon Law Group
Brauer Driscoll Sun & Associates
Charles Schwab
Claflin Law
Dawn M. Lozano, Ltd.
Dias Law Group
Douglas Crawford Law
Golanics Law
Goldsmith & Guymon
Hamilton Law
Hanratty Law Group
Hartwell Thalacker
Ireland Law Group
Jenny Legal
Jimmerson Law Firm
Jones Lovelock
Kainen Law Group
Kevin E. Beck, Ltd.
Kristine K. Jensen, Ltd.
Las Vegas Estate Planning & Probate Lawyer
Law Office of Alyssa Aklestad
Law Office of Christine M. Owen
Law Office of James J. Ream
Law Office of Julie A. Mersch
Law Office of Kevin L. Hernandez
Law Office of Lisa Rasmussen
Law Office of Nathalie Gottschalk
Law Office of Yvette Chevalier
Law Offices of Christopher Cannon
Law Offices of Donald E. Lowrey
Law Offices of Janice Brown
Law Offices of P. Sterling Kerr
Law Offices of Robert L. Hempen II
Leavitt Legal Group
Leavitt Legal Services
Lombino Law Studio
Lynn’s Law
Makris Legal Services
McDonald Law Group
McLetchi Shell
Morris Law Center
Naimi & Cerceo
Nehme-Tomalka & Associates
O’Grady Law Group
Premier Legal Group
Radford J. Smith, Chartered
Roberts Stoffel Family Law Group
Spencer Fane
Tanasi Law Offices
The Langsdale Law Firm
The Law Office of Vernon Nelson
The Palmer Law Firm
The Ruiz Law Firm
Theresa Mains, Attorney at Law
Thomas M. Burns, Ltd.
TMR Law Group
Vargas Law Group
Willick Law Group
Xavier Gonzales, Attorney at Law
Young Law Group
Zaman Legal

 

View past award winners