LSC Honors Nine New York Attorneys and Law Firms for Pro Bono Service

October 1, 2014

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) Board of Directors presented on October 6 its Pro Bono Service Award to six New York attorneys and three law firms in recognition of the their extraordinary commitment to equal justice. The awards ceremony took place at 6 p.m. at the New York State Bar Association, One Elk Street in Albany.

The 2014 LSC Pro Bono Service Award Reception was held in conjunction with the LSC Board of Directors’ quarterly meeting.

Speakers at the event included Rep. Paul Tonko (NY-20th), LSC Board Chairman John G. Levi, and New York State Bar Association President Glenn Lau-Kee.

Recipients of the Pro Bono Service Award are:

  • Leah Belfort, a former accountant who enrolled in St. John’s University School of Law to devote her retirement years to pro bono work. Since 1997 she has donated more than 7,500 hours of her own time to pro bono service, seeing clients one day per week in the Hempstead office of Nassau/Suffolk Law Services.
  • Frank Beretta, an East Rochester attorney who has been an active volunteer with Volunteer Legal Services Project of Monroe County (VLSP) since 2005. He provides training, mentoring, and support to newly admitted attorneys and other VLSP pro bono attorneys, and often accepts complex family law cases.
  • Hugh C. Humphreys, a retired Madison County Judge who has donated more than 5,345 hours of pro bono service in the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York’s (LASMNY) Utica office. Since 2001, Judge Humphreys has represented at least 313 low-income LASMNY clients.
  • Evelyn Kalenscher, a former partner in Genoa, Kalenscher & Noto, P.C. Since 2010, she has worked two days per week providing pro bono assistance to clients of the Hempstead office of Nassau/Suffolk Law Services Volunteer Lawyers Project.
  • Kevin Kearney, of  Hodgson Russ LLP, who volunteers with the Buffalo office of Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc. Statewide Assistive Technology Project. He represents disabled clients, including many children, in efforts to obtain insurance coverage for prescribed devices.
  • Philip Smith, a litigation partner in the New York office of Seyfarth Shaw LLP and an active volunteer for Legal Services of New York City (LSNYC) throughout his 25-year legal career. He recently served as pro bono co-counsel with LSNYC, helping them achieve a courtroom victory for disabled Section 8 recipients.
  • Hodgson Russ LLP, a Buffalo-based law firm committed to providing pro bono service to low-income clients through a partnership with the Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc. (NLS). Hodgson Russ attorneys have been accepting  NLS cases on a pro bono basis for 18 years.
  • Morrison & Foerster LLP, one of the first law firms to create a full-time pro bono counsel position. Morrison & Foerster attorneys recently partnered with Legal Services of the Hudson Valley to donate more than 400 pro bono hours to a lawsuit on behalf of eight disabled children in Mount Vernon.
  • O’Connell and Aronowitz, an Albany-based law firm that partners with the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, Inc. (LASNNY). In 2013, the firm and its pro bono partner Kurt Bratten handled 34 cases and provided more than 451 hours of pro bono service.

Legal Services Corporation (LSC) was established by the Congress in 1974 to provide equal access to justice and to ensure the delivery of high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 134 independent non-profit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.

Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 133 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.