PALO ALTO (March 23, 2006) — Tomorrow McDermott Will & Emery’s Silicon Valley office will be presented with the Guardian of Justice Award by the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County at its 9th Annual Awards Luncheon. This award is given each year in recognition of an attorney or firm whose commitment to Legal Aid is steeped in a commitment to justice for all the children, families and seniors in San Mateo County. In the past two years McDermott's Silicon Valley office, which numbers nearly 60 lawyers, has devoted more than a thousand hours to representing low-income children in San Mateo County. Dan Alberti, a partner in the Firm's Trial Department who leads the Silicon Valley office's pro bono initiatives, will be accepting the award on behalf of the Firm.
"When we first contacted Dan to see if he and his colleagues would provide pro bono representation in guardianship and school discipline matters, he was truly excited. We knew from the very start it was a perfect fit," said M. Stacey Hawver, Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County.
The Silicon Valley office's involvement with Legal Aid is in coordination with McDermott'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 of children in guardianships procedures. Lawyers in the Silicon Valley office have handled several guardianship cases referred by the Legal Aid Society. The Firm has also assisted in creating a pro bono program with Legal Aid dedicated to the pro bono representation of children in school discipline matters.
"A commitment to excellence at an international firm such as McDermott truly begins at the community level," says Mr. Alberti. The Firm also gains from taking pro bono cases, Mr. Alberti believes. "Handling a pro bono matter is an important way to mentor young lawyers. It reinforces the value of community service and turns young lawyers into advocates."
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 at www.legalaidsmc.org/.
The people of McDermott Will & Emery are committed to giving back to at-risk children in the communities in which they live and work. The international law firm's pro bono program, Kids First, draws from each office to provide legal representation in special education, school access and registration, school discipline, and guardian ad litem services.