WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 9, 2005) — The Washington, D.C. office of McDermott Will & Emery is honored to be named co-recipient of the District of Columbia Bar's Pro Bono "Law Firm of the Year" award; and recipient of the Vincent E. Reed Award for commitment to public education in the District of Columbia.
"These awards are significant achievements for us as a firm," commented H. Guy Collier, chair of the Firm's Pro Bono Committee in the Washington, D.C. office. "The support of all the members of our office and the Firm leadership, both locally and firm-wide, made this recognition possible."
McDermott was selected by the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs for the Reed Award. The Vincent E. Reed Award was first presented by the Washington Lawyers' Committee in 2003. The award is given in the name of Dr. Vincent Reed, the distinguished educator whose encouragement and support were directly responsible for the Committee's decision to establish its public education support programs. This award was achieved in significant part because of the Firm's long-standing commitment to Bowen Elementary School in southwest D.C. McDermott will receive the award at the Committee's Wiley A. Branton Awards Luncheon on June 28, 2005.
"This is quite an honor, particularly in a city that is noted for the commitment of its local law firms to pro bono and community service," said Timothy Waters, partner-in-charge of the Washington, D.C. office. "We would not have received these awards without the increasing number of attorneys and staff who have contributed to the D.C. community and who have undertaken so many important pro bono projects."
McDermott will be presented with its Law Firm of the Year award from the District of Columbia Bar at its Annual Business Meeting and Awards Dinner on June 23, 2005. The event will be preceded by the Presidents' Reception at the St. Regis Hotel, in honor of incoming D.C. Bar president John C. Cruden. This award from the Bar was predicated in part on McDermott's commitment to various pro bono clinic programs sponsored by the Bar. These include the Landlord-Tenant Resource Center, where McDermott is the only law firm to staff the clinic on a weekly basis, and the Law Firm Pro Bono Clinic, where McDermott has committed to the highest level of participation and case responsibility.
McDermott's commitment to the Bowen Elementary School in Washington is part of the Firm's Partners in Reading program, a volunteer tutoring program focusing on helping children in inner-city schools develop reading and grammar skills. In addition to the Washington office's relationship with Bowen Elementary, the Firm's Chicago, New York and Los Angeles offices have similar tutoring programs.
The Washington office's pro bono involvement with both the Lawyers' Committee and District of Columbia Bar is part of McDermott's firm-wide KidsFirst project which focuses on representing children in need to assure they receive appropriate public education and remain in school and to assure that their best interests are protected in abuse and neglect proceedings. KidsFirst, organized in collaboration with a local referral agency, provides legal representation for a variety of needs, including special education for eligible children, legal inquiries regarding children with health needs, school access and registration, school discipline, school eligibility for immigrant and undocumented children, guardian ad litem services for children in the abuse and neglect system, and law reform and legislative policy. The Firm's charitable foundation will be sponsoring two Equal Justice Works fellows beginning this fall, including a fellow who will be working with the Children's Law Center in the District of Columbia.
The Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs has represented both individuals and groups seeking to vindicate their civil rights for over 35 years. It has handled over 5,000 civil rights cases, in employment, housing, public accommodations and other aspects of urban life. It represents people with claims of discrimination based on race, gender, national origin, disability, age, religion and sexual orientation. It assists immigrants seeking asylum and other help. It works for education reform in the D.C. Public Schools. For more information visit http://www.washlaw.org/.