Ropes & Gray Honored at The Legal Aid Society’s 2014 Pro Bono Publico Awards
Ropes & Gray was honored with a 2014 Award for Innovative Pro Bono Assistance to The Legal Aid Society and its Clients at the organization’s 2014 Pro Bono Publico Awards ceremony in New York on Oct. 8. The firm received the award for its work on two pro bono initiatives – one involving litigation to end abusive treatment of inmates at Rikers Island and other New York City jails, and one involving students at Hostos Community College in the South Bronx.
In the New York City jails initiative, Ropes & Gray has teamed with The Legal Aid Society’s Prisoners’ Rights Project and New York boutique firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady on a major class action against the New York City Department of Correction (DOC) and related defendants. The suit alleges a systemic pattern and practice of use of excessive force by DOC staff on inmates at New York City jails, and an institutional history of failed oversight and investigations, all in violation of the inmates’ Fourth and Eighth Amendment rights. The lawsuit seeks systemwide injunctive and declaratory relief on behalf of a certified class of present and future inmates. Since becoming involved in 2012, the Ropes & Gray team has dedicated thousands of pro bono hours to this matter.
The Ropes & Gray team honored for its efforts to uphold inmates’ rights includes partners Chris Conniff and Bill Sussman; counsel Amanda Raad; associates Tim Capozzi, Helen Gugel, Paul Kellogg, Jennifer Pantina, Denise Sohn; senior litigation paralegal Puri Camu; litigation support senior analyst Clarise Jorgensen-Chichizola; and litigation support analyst Gio Arzan.
At Hostos Community College, a Ropes & Gray team led by retired partners Denise Loring and Robert Morgan has partnered with The Legal Aid Society’s Bronx Neighborhood Office to staff a weekly legal clinic at the college’s Single Stop USA Resource Center. The center provides counseling to low-income students who have financial, legal and other issues that impede their ability to complete their education. Under the mentorship of Legal Aid attorneys, Ropes & Gray attorneys advise on a broad range of legal issues, including public benefits, housing, family law, disability, medical and health law, and employment. In addition, Ropes & Gray attorneys have represented Hostos students in court and administrative hearings.
In addition to Ms. Loring and Mr. Morgan, the Ropes & Gray team honored for its work at Hostos Community College includes partner Leo Arnaboldi; associates Kaitien Boucher, Alexandra Fellowes, Christine Moundas and Amy Wolf; and former associate Russell McAleavey.