On October 26, 2020, the City Bar Justice Center commemorated the tremendous response of ten volunteer attorneys who rose to meet the challenges of 2020, awarding each of them with a 2020 Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award. Our honorees demonstrated an unwavering commitment to supporting disadvantaged New Yorkers, particularly in times of crisis. Congratulations!

Cancer Advocacy and Elderlaw Projects: Deborah A. Skakel, Partner at Blank Rome LLP

The Elderlaw Project (ELP) aims to maintain the dignity and independence of elderly people by providing clients with end-of-life planning assistance and community education on areas of law that are important to seniors. The Cancer Advocacy Project (CAP) provides cancer patients, survivors, and their families with legal information and pro bono assistance on issues relating to advance directives, Wills, health insurance appeals and cancer-related employment discrimination.

For over three years, Deborah Skakel, a partner at Blank Rome LLP, has devoted over 200 hours to assisting clients of our Cancer Advocacy and Elderlaw Projects. She has served as a witness countless times, enabling clients who could not provide their own witnesses to execute their Wills. She has also taken on pro bono cases, providing free legal representation to the Projects’ low-income clients.

Ms. Skakel’s most recent case had a number of unusual elements which she went above and beyond to address during the pandemic. From the start, Ms. Skakel made it a priority to ensure that the life planning documents she was preparing for her client would honor her wishes. To avoid delay while office visits were not possible, Debbie organized an outdoor, socially distanced document execution, with all parties wearing Personal Protective Equipment; she even provided witnesses. She prepared a detailed breakdown of the procedures that should take place when the client passes away and shared this information with the client’s family.

For showing such care and compassion in her work on behalf of our clients, we thank Ms. Skakel for her contributions and are honored to present her with a 2020 Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award.