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CBJC Celebrates Recipients of its 2021 Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award

by Cheryl Lopez October 27, 2021

Pictured above are the 2021 Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award winners, with Keynote Speaker Hon. Llinét Rosado, Justice of the New York Supreme Court – Bronx County, New York City Bar Association President Sheila Boston, City Bar Fund Chair Carol Villegas, CBJC Executive Director Kurt Denk, and CBJC 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 (CBJC) held its 2021 Celebrate Pro Bono Awards ceremony on Tuesday, October 26. Each year, CBJC recognizes pro bono volunteers across our dozen civil justice projects who demonstrated a remarkable commitment to our clients and championed our team’s mission to advance access to justice.

This year, nine attorneys and two summer associates were nominated to receive the 2021 Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award: Barbara A. Keller, Brenton Clarke, Chase Henry Mechanick, Garry Canepa, Jean L. Chou, Lina Stillman, Rachel I. Winters, Richard Mancino, Romane Paul, Victor M. Metsch, and William Fassuliotis.

Sheila Boston, New York City Bar Association President, offered opening remarks and the Hon. Llinét Rosado, Justice of the New York Supreme Court, Bronx County delivered the event’s keynote address. Carol Villegas, City Bar Fund Chair, presented awards and closing remarks were given by Cassandra Celestin, CBJC Director of Pro Bono Initiatives, and Kurt Denk, CBJC Executive Director.

Hon. Rosado’s inspiring speech stressed the importance of lawyers’ obligation to advance access to justice, recognizing the long-lasting impact it has on future generations:

“The City Bar Justice Center’s determination to further access to justice by assisting New Yorkers in addressing their unmet civil legal needs impacts lives. They are providing legal services to the most vulnerable populations – those struggling with poverty and other systemic socioeconomic barriers. That is what service looks like when you are a lawyer. When we talk about service in lawyers, it’s quite simple … it’s an obligation. It’s a small task to perform, in return for all the beauty that our profession affords us. [Pro bono] has the extraordinary power to change the trajectory of the person you assist and in many cases, the trajectory of that person’s future generations. The pro bono service of tonight’s honorees, and I want to say their names, Barbara, Brenton, Chase, Garry, Jean, Lina, Rachel, Richard, Romane, Victor, and William, can in fact affect eternity… One act of pro bono service can impact generations of one family.”

Expressing gratitude and acknowledging the power of pro bono to enable systemic change, Mr. Denk closed the ceremony with the following remarks:

“And that, my friends, is where I believe the leading edge of pro bono legal services is in 2021. In this new era in which we’re hopefully, even if painstakingly, making greater strides towards long-denied racial equity and broader social justice, we need to take a systemic approach to pro bono legal services so that we move from applying band-aids, to healing wounds. You all are a part of helping us do that, and for that I thank you, and I salute you. I also ask that you stick with us and with our clients, to keep doing the good work you’ve done and invite others to do the same.”

Thank you to everyone who attended including friends, family, and colleagues, and for making the awards ceremony a special and memorable evening. To our 2021 award recipients, a heartfelt congratulations!

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