(CHICAGO) Katten announced today that 14 attorneys were honored at Katten Pro Bono Service Awards ceremonies during the National Celebration of Pro Bono, recognizing those who donate their time and volunteer their legal skills to offer access to justice.

"Their consistent efforts have a transformative power in that they result in life-changing impacts for their clients. These attorneys are advocates for the powerless, voices for the unheard and champions for society's most vulnerable. We deeply thank them for their service," said Jonathan K. Baum, Katten's Director of Pro Bono Services.

Pro bono is a cornerstone of Katten's culture. Firm attorneys have worked tirelessly and diligently to help refugees seek asylum, prisoners get compassionate release, and nonprofits gain tax-exempt status, to cite a few examples.

"Today's award winners are exemplars of the hundreds of Katten attorneys who, despite a busy workload, take on complex matters for individuals and organizations who are in great need of high-quality legal services but cannot afford representation," Baum said.

This year's Pro Bono Service Awards recipients, who each received a $1,000 honorarium to donate to a charity, provided a range of services, some of which include the following:

  • Ashley T. Brines, associate, Litigation, Los Angeles, who has represented families finalizing adoptions as well as a client who was granted asylum and obtained approval for his family to join him in America.
  • Jonathan C. Byer, partner, Private Wealth, New York, who has worked with South Brooklyn Legal Services and Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, providing basic wills, health care proxies, living wills, and powers of attorney to those who cannot afford them.
  • Claudia Callaway, partner, Class Action/Consumer Finance Litigation, Washington DC, who has assisted a veteran in securing benefits, represented a prisoner who was denied medication after being attacked by another prisoner, and worked with immigrants seeking citizenship.
  • Shannon C. Gross, associate, Litigation, Chicago, who has won asylum for a refugee, obtained divorces for low-income women, and successfully settled a jail inmate's civil rights case.
  • Kristin Lockhart, associate, Intellectual Property, Washington DC, who has helped a man fleeing Venezuela win asylum in the United States.
  • Weston M. Love, associate, Corporate, Dallas, who has helped youths from Central America seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, a legal designation that can help pave the way toward permanent residency in the United States.
  • Catherine E. O'Brien, associate, Intellectual Property, Chicago, who has represented a mentally ill incarcerated individual in a civil rights lawsuit and persuaded the US Court of Appeals to reverse the district court's decisions to deny the prisoner an attorney and to dismiss the case.
  • Stanley V. Polit, associate, Financial Markets and Funds, Chicago, who has represented a local food pantry, helping the organization put in place governance policies and procedures to handle the record amount of donations while navigating state audit requirements.
  • Christina N. Romero, associate, Private Wealth, New York, who has handled wills and estate planning documents, and identified two Hungarian women as rightful heirs to an estate, which was challenging because necessary birth and death records were either nonexistent or scattered during the Holocaust.
  • Sarah Simpson, senior associate, Intellectual Property, London, who has assisted with intellectual property issues regarding The Park Theatre's launch of a new production and St. Paul's Cathedral's online book of remembrance for COVID-19 victims in the United Kingdom.
  • Brian M. Spangler, partner, Real Estate, Chicago, who has worked with the Lawyers in the Classroom program at the Jose De Diego Community Academy in Humboldt Park, which helps students enhance their critical thinking, collaboration and civil discourse skills, and handled numerous real estate transactions for nonprofit organizations.
  • Daniel L. Tedrick, staff attorney, Real Estate, Charlotte, who has represented public housing residents facing eviction and helped find a resolution that led his clients to secure housing, as well as funds in accrued escrow incentives.

Additionally, Trisha Sircar, a Privacy, Data and Cybersecurity partner, and Elizabeth D. Langdale, a Litigation partner, both based in New York, received honorable mentions for their pro bono contributions.

Sircar worked with K-9 Reading Buddies of the North Shore to develop pandemic-era policies that enable children with reading disabilities to continue to be engaged and develop their reading skills virtually. Langdale has worked to secure asylum in the United States for a Honduran woman and her three children.