PALO ALTO, CA (November 29, 2004) — The Silicon Valley office of McDermott Will & Emery has been selected by the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County for its November/December 2004 "Pro Bono Award."
"McDermott Will & Emery's support of Legal Aid's Pro Bono Guardianship Program has been amazing and we are delighted to present them with this award," commented Julia Wilson, Pro Bono Legal Coordinator at Legal Aid. "The Firm's participation has been simply inspiring, particularly everyone's willingness to get involved, take the difficult cases and make a difference in the lives of the low-income children in our community."
The Silicon Valley office's involvement with Legal Aid is in coordination with the Firm's Kids First program focused on representing children in need. The Kids First program, which is organized in collaboration with a local referral agency, includes pro bono representation in the area of guardianships for children. Guardianships, typically an alternative route to foster care for many children, are necessary for children who are without a parental caregiver due to abuse, death or incarceration. Although some of these children enter the formal foster care system, many are cared for informally by grandparents and other family members. In the Silicon Valley area alone, more than 20,000 children are being cared for in these informal arrangements. These family caregivers lack the legal ability to care for the children, and must go through the court process to be appointed as the legal guardian. McDermott lawyers have been working with Legal Aid to support a number of family caregivers through this legal process. The Firm is also in the process of creating a pro bono program with Legal Aid dedicated to the pro bono representation of children in regard to school discipline matters.
The Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County has been helping disadvantaged people improve their lives through equal access to justice for more than 45 years. Legal Aid offers individual representation and legal education to those in need. In cooperation with the San Mateo County Bar Association and law firms from throughout Silicon Valley, Legal Aid operates a successful pro bono program for which McDermott Will & Emery lawyers volunteer their time to advise and represent those in need. For more information visit Legal Aid's website.