Latham & Watkins LLP and McDermott Will & Emery Receive Frankel Award for Pro Bono Service
Washington, D.C. – Latham & Watkins LLP’s New York office and the Washington, DC office of McDermott Will & Emery will receive Human Rights Firsts’ 2014 Marvin Frankel Award for extraordinary commitment to pro bono service. For a combined three decades, both firms have partnered with Human Rights First to provide critical legal representation to asylum seekers who could not otherwise afford a lawyer.
“Legal representation for those fleeing persecution can sometimes mean the difference between life and death,” said Human Rights First’s legal director, Hardy Vieux. “As we mark National Pro Bono Celebration Week, we celebrate and are grateful for Latham & Watkins and McDermott Will & Emery’s dedication to serve those in need of shelter and protection in the United States. Their commitment to pro bono service speaks to their core values and that of the American legal profession.”
Each year, Human Rights First honors the memory of Judge Marvin E. Frankel, a founding father of Human Rights First and former chairman of the organization’s board of directors, with an award in his name. Judge Frankel died in 2002. During his lifetime, he dedicated his time and energy to making a difference in the human rights movement and demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to pro bono service.
“Judge Frankel understood the critical difference that pro bono representation can make,” noted Vieux. “He promoted this kind of public service at his law firm, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, and through his human rights work. Under his leadership Human Rights First developed a nationally recognized pro bono program through which lawyers in private practice in New York, Washington, and Houston now represent more than 1,000 refugees from more than 80 countries in asylum proceedings.”
Working with Human Rights First’s refugee representation program, attorneys from firms across the nation donate over 60,000 hours of their time annually — a donation the equivalent of over $18 million in legal fees — to helping asylum clients. Pro bono attorneys also provide invaluable support to Human Rights First in other ways, including preparing amicus curiae briefs in cases involving important issues of international human rights law.
Human Rights First will recognize Latham & Watkins and McDermott Will & Emery this week during the Human Rights First Award Dinner on October 22, 2014, at Chelsea Piers in New York City.