(CHICAGO) Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP announced today that a team of six lawyers was honored for volunteering their legal help to an international humanitarian nonprofit organization that works to dismantle landmines and other deadly explosives left on battlefields in war-torn countries.

Those attorneys, presented recently with Katten's Pro Bono Service Awards, have provided legal aid to Mines Advisory Group (MAG) America, which raises awareness and funding for lifesaving work in far-flung countries such as Sri Lanka, Iraq and Nigeria. The organization shares the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize with International Campaign to Ban Landmines. The MAG mission is to clear landmines and unexploded bombs before they detonate so displaced families affected by armed violence and conflict can safely return to their communities and rebuild their lives.

"I am not qualified or capable of performing the dangerous tasks that MAG does around the world, removing landmines and destroying weapons and ammunition that remain after conflict," said Katten partner Steven P. Solow, who heads the firm's White Collar, Investigations and Compliance practice in Washington, DC. "Instead, the work we do here helps them do this very important work there."

The pro bono legal work that Katten does for MAG includes employment contracting, grant review and submission, tax advice, corporate governance, assistance on internal policies and guidance on anti-corruption and anti-fraud issues.

Katten's team of attorneys in Washington, DC, led by Solow in this effort, who received the pro bono award are Transactional Tax Planning partner Brandon D. Hadley, Structured Finance and Securitization partner Seth M. Messner, Litigation associate Johnjerica Hodge, and Structured Finance and Securitization associates John Kozak and John Sun.

"As lawyers, I believe it is our responsibility to use our skills and special talents to help vulnerable communities around the country and the world and to advocate for those who cannot afford legal services," said Katten Chairman Roger P. Furey. "The pro bono work that our attorneys do is rewarding for them and often life changing for those who benefit from these services."

In addition to the six attorneys honored for their work with MAG America, Katten lauded the outstanding pro bono efforts of other attorneys in various US offices.

This year's 19th annual 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:

  • Noah R. Balch, partner, Litigation, Los Angeles, who counseled the Los Angeles 2018 Bid Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games on a range of matters.
  • Cristina E. Bautista, associate, Insolvency and Restructuring, Los Angeles, who is working with unaccompanied minors from Guatemala on obtaining legal status in the United States.
  • Zachary Denver, associate, Litigation, New York, who helped a Tibetan man facing potential torture and imprisonment in China obtain asylum in the United States.
  • David Halberstadter, partner, Litigation, Los Angeles, who provided editorial guidance and related legal advice to a women's rights publication.
  • Genus Heidary, associate, Litigation, Washington, DC, who performed legislative analysis related to government ordinances impacting the homeless community.
  • Joanna M. Hill, associate, Litigation, Los Angeles, who represented incarcerated women at their parole hearings and nonviolent offenders seeking clemency.
  • Timothy R. Knudsen, associate, Corporate, Chicago, who guided a young man through the asylum process so he can escape persecution for being gay in Moscow. 
  • Nicholas E. Morrell, associate, Environmental and Workplace Safety, Houston, who secured asylum for a Syrian refugee.
  • Cynthia C. Reed, associate, Trusts and Estates, New York, who represented clients through South Brooklyn Legal Services on a range of matters.
  • Scott A. Resnik, partner, Litigation, New York, who handled a criminal appeal and conducted an internal investigation for a museum that uncovered misconduct.
  • Elizabeth Hermann Smith, associate, Commercial Finance, Chicago, who used her legal skills to establish an organization that entertains hospitalized children through magic.
  • Lindsey L. Smith, associate, Litigation, Charlotte, who represented children's best interests in custody disputes and issued recommendations to the court for custody.
  • Peter G. Wilson, partner, Litigation, Chicago, who has led associates in numerous asylum cases including preventing the deportation of a gay Jamaican man facing persecution in his home country.

Additionally, Guy Dempsey, of counsel in Financial Services, and Michael S. Gordon, a partner in Litigation, both in New York, received honorable mentions for their pro bono contributions.

"Our dedicated attorneys have demonstrated a steadfast devotion in representing pro bono clients, treating them with the dignity they deserve and giving them a glimmer of hope that the judicial system will work for them," said Jonathan Baum, Katten's director of Pro Bono Services.