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Press Release

Fish & Richardson Presents Inaugural 2017 Pro Bono Impact Awards

October 27, 2017

Press Release

Fish & Richardson Presents Inaugural 2017 Pro Bono Impact Awards

October 27, 2017

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Fish & Richardson is proud to present the inaugural 2017 Pro Bono Impact Awards, an annual award given to firm attorneys and teams whose pro bono efforts have made an exceptional impact on their individual clients, or on Fish’s pro bono program as a whole.

This year, the firm recognized four recipients of the Pro Bono Impact Awards: Sean Dean, Erin Alper, the Fatir v. Taylor case team led by Gregory Booker, and the Das and OCA Houston v. State of Texas case team led by David Hoffman.

Sean Dean, a principal in the Boston office, is largely responsible for developing the firm’s pro bono immigration practice for unaccompanied juveniles. He has been instrumental in establishing and sustaining our relationship with one of the firm’s biggest pro bono referral agencies, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND). Throughout the past five years, Sean has not only carried a docket of multiple cases for KIND himself, but has also enabled Fish to take on dozens of cases through his supervision. In addition, Sean frequently helps to facilitate trainings and office hours for other attorneys working to secure justice for these young clients. Sean’s efforts, enthusiasm, and expertise have had a significant impact in enabling the firm to provide representation for dozens of children seeking refuge here in the United States.

Since joining the firm, Erin Alper, an associate in Atlanta, has stood out as a pro bono superstar, taking on a variety of pro bono matters every year. Erin cut her pro bono teeth on a habeas corpus case referred by the Georgia Innocence Project as a young associate, and her fearlessness in taking on pro bono clients across the poverty law spectrum since demonstrates her commitment to access to justice. This year alone, Erin secured four temporary restraining order cases on behalf of domestic violence victims, helped a veteran’s widow seek benefits related to her husband’s death on an unusually challenging case, documented conditions in immigration detention centers with the aim of improving quality of life, and represented a low-income artist in a dispute with a local retailer.

The Fatir v. Taylor team of Gregory Booker, Joseph Warden, Warren Mabey, Santosh Coutinho, Chris Winter, Adrien Knowles, Jennifer Pierce, and Betty Reynolds took on pro bono representation of Amir Fatir, an inmate bringing 8th Amendment challenges regarding the abusive practices by prison guards in the Delaware State Prison in which he has been incarcerated for over 40 years. The case was rife with unique challenges, and the team took close to 20 depositions. While the Herculean effort did not result in the verdict the team hoped for, Judge Sleet commended Fish’s effort, and the client reports that the prison has made some concrete changes in its practices in light of this case and Fish’s advocacy.

The Das and OCA Houston v. State of Texas team of David Hoffman, David Morris, Kenneth Darby, and Amy Litz partnered with the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund to strike down a Texas election law that violated the Federal Voting Rights Act (VRA). The case was brought on behalf of a registered voter with limited English proficiency who wished to have her son interpret the ballot for her. Poll workers told the woman that Texas Election code prevented assistance from those who were not registered to vote in the same county. Last year, a federal court in Austin found that this provision violated the VRA and enjoined the state from enforcing it. More recently, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit largely affirmed the decision. Thanks to this effort, all Texas voters with limited English proficiency may now bring interpreters of their choosing to assist them with voting, a right guaranteed under federal law.

Fish & Richardson congratulates these awardees, and commends them for their outstanding commitment to our pro bono clients and causes.

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