WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 7, 2009) — McDermott Will & Emery LLP is pleased to announce that the Sikh Coalition will honor the Firm with its first Legal Justice Award for McDermott’s groundbreaking pro bono work. The award will be presented at the Sikh Coalition’s First Annual “Paving the Way” Gala on August 8, 2009 at Gotham Hall in New York City.
“McDermott is truly honored and humbled to receive the Sikh Coalition's first ever Legal Justice award. With projects spanning across four Firm offices, the Sikh Coalition has quickly become an integral part of our pro bono program, providing diverse opportunities to our attorneys in multiple practice groups. We look forward to a long and rewarding relationship with the Sikh Coalition for many years to come,” said H. Guy Collier, chairman of the Firm’s Pro Bono & Community Service Committee.
“This award reflects the Firm’s leadership on cutting-edge legal issues that are making a real difference for religious minorities in the United States,” said Amandeep S. Sidhu, a Trial associate, who was instrumental in convincing the Firm to work for the Sikh Coalition. Both Mr. Sidhu and Mr. Collier will accept the award at the gala on Saturday.
Since 2007, McDermott has donated over 900 hours to the Sikh Coalition, with more than 15 of the Firm’s attorneys working with the group. McDermott is presently lead counsel for the campaign to ensure that Sikh Americans may freely serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. The U.S. Army’s uniform policy currently prohibits turbans, uncut hair, and beards—religious practices that are mandated by the Sikh faith.
Additionally, McDermott represents Sikhs who have filed administrative complaints with the Department of Homeland Security, alleging that they were the victims of profiling before boarding airplanes in the United States. The Firm also serves as the Sikh Coalition’s corporate counsel and represents the Coalition at the U.S. Justice Department’s bi-monthly meetings addressing legal issues of concern to the Sikh, Arab Muslim, and South Asian communities.
Founded in response to prejudice against Sikhs in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Sikh Coalition provides legal services to Sikhs whose civil or human rights are violated and advocates for laws and policies that are respectful of fundamental rights. The Sikh Coalition’s legal work often stands at the forefront of the civil rights challenges of our time.
Sikhism, the fifth largest organized religion in the world, has more than 23 million followers, including more than 500,000 in the United States.
McDermott Will & Emery LLP recognizes and appreciates the need to give back to the communities of which it is a part, assisting those who are unable to afford legal services. The Firm's Pro Bono & Community Services Committee seeks to ensure that the same Firm standards of quality, service and care that are given to its paying clients are also afforded to those it serves on a pro bono basis. The people of McDermott Will & Emery understand their unique obligations as lawyers to enhance the lives of those in need and are committed to ensuring that low-income and disadvantaged individuals have access to justice.