The City Bar Justice Center Celebrates Recipients of its 2023 Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award
by Samantha Darris November 3, 2023
Pictured above are the 2023 Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award winners, with Keynote Speaker Hon. Shahabuddeen A. Ally, Supervising Judge/Acting Supreme Court Justice, New York County Civil Court, Managing Director at UBS Legal and Executive Sponsor of UBS’s Pro Bono Program Alison Morpurgo, City Bar Justice Center Executive Director Kurt Denk, and City Bar Justice Center Director of Pro Bono Initiatives Cassandra Celestin.
In observance of the American Bar Association’s National Celebration of Pro Bono, the City Bar Justice Center held its 2023 Celebrate Pro Bono Awards ceremony on Wednesday, October 25. Each year, the Justice Center recognizes pro bono volunteers across our dozen civil justice projects who demonstrated an exemplary commitment to our clients, embodying our team’s mission to advance access to justice.
This year, ten volunteers were nominated to receive the 2023 Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award: Andrew Lichtman, Boaz I. Cohen, David Oppliger, Eric B. Lewin, Florian Fuhrimann, Fredric M. Brooks, James T. Bentley, Keun Young Bae, Sarah Libowsky, and Thomas R. Makin.
Cassandra Celestin, the City Bar Justice Center’s Director of Pro Bono Initiatives, offered opening remarks and the Hon. Shahabuddeen A. Ally, Supervising Judge/Acting Supreme Court Justice, New York County Civil Court, delivered the event’s keynote address. Alison Morpurgo, Managing Director at UBS Legal and Executive Sponsor of UBS’s Pro Bono Program, presented awards and closing remarks were given by Kurt Denk, the organization’s Executive Director.
Ms. Celestin opened the ceremony by emphasizing the critical need for pro bono work and how advocacy can drive social and economic justice:
“As attorneys, it is our professional responsibility to work towards closing the justice gap, to give voices to the voiceless, to give those who cannot afford representation an opportunity to stand on much better footing with counsel by their sides, to ensure that all members of our community, without regard to economic means or other resources, are treated with the same respect and dignity as those who have resources and means, and to give an opportunity to those who otherwise would be unrepresented a chance to advocate for their interests.”
Justice Ally’s keynote remarks also affirmed the deep social impact pro bono work has on clients: “When you hear someone saying, ‘if only I had a lawyer’, it does break your heart. So for all of you who are thinking, ‘does my work matter?’, it absolutely matters… I’m going to congratulate every single one [of] you for not just having a skill but for doing something for someone who will always remember it.”
Thank you to everyone who attended, including friends, family, and colleagues for making the awards ceremony an uplifting and meaningful evening. To our 2023 award recipients, a heartfelt congratulations!
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