McDermott Will & Emery’s DC Office Honored as the Only Two-Time Recipient of Human Rights First’s Prestigious Marvin E. Frankel Award for Pro Bono Service


WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 2, 2014) – The Washington, DC office of McDermott Will & Emery is a proud recipient of the 2014 Human Rights First Marvin E. Frankel Award. The office was awarded this honor for the countless number of pro bono hours that its attorneys dedicated to important issues of human rights law. The DC office received this same coveted award in 2009, making it the only law firm office to ever receive this award twice.

Human Rights First (HRF) is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing international human rights and the underlying rule of law. Each year HRF honors the memory of Judge Marvin E. Frankel by recognizing law firms that conduct meaningful pro bono projects dedicated to advancing human rights in the United States and abroad.

The following is a small sampling of the human rights work that has helped make McDermott’s Washington, DC office a worthy recipient of the 2014 Marvin E. Frankel Award:

  • The Firm secured asylum for a family of Coptic Christians who had faced discrimination, violence, persecution and harassment in their home country of Egypt based solely on their religious beliefs.
  • McDermott obtained asylum for a Syrian journalist who faced possible arrest and torture by the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad for her activities in opposition to the regime, both prior to her departure from Syria and after her arrival in the United States.
  • McDermott secured asylum for a practicing Pentecostal Christian who fled Eritrea after being persecuted based on her desire to faithfully observe religious beliefs that were not accepted by the Eritrean government.
  • McDermott secured asylum for a young man who fled Eritrea to escape confinement and torture for having a Bible in his possession while at a military training camp. After securing asylum for the young man, McDermott attorneys helped him apply for legal permanent residence status, which was granted in March 2014.

DC Partners Cathy Scheineson and Raymond Paretzky, members of the Firm’s Pro Bono Committee and who have represented a number of clients seeking asylum, proudly accepted the award on behalf of the office.

Jennifer Geetter, co-chair of the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee for the Washington, D.C. office, welcomed HRF and other guests and noted:

“McDermott’s D.C. office is honored to receive the 2014 Marvin E. Frankel Award and to have the privilege of supporting Human Rights First in its steadfast commitment to human rights. HRF, and the countless individuals who face persecution in their home countries for their beliefs, values and social identities, are the true heroes.

“Over the years, the D.C. office has been asked by HRF and other human rights organizations to assist with a number of difficult human rights cases that have presented challenging and sensitive legal issues. In each case, the story of our client has been profoundly moving and I, along with my colleagues, are humbled each time by their courage. These asylum seekers come from all over the earth, but they share a common commitment to freedom and liberty.

“We know that the need is great and HRF’s mission remains tragically relevant, and we commit ourselves to continuing to support HRF to advance human rights both here in the United States and abroad.”

McDermott’s Washington, DC office is proud to uphold the Firm’s commitment and dedication to pro bono legal work. As a leading international law firm, McDermott is committed to pro bono service on a truly worldwide scale. In 2013, 87 percent, or 956, of McDermott lawyers dedicated 85,000 hours to pro bono and volunteer service worldwide.

About McDermott

McDermott Will & Emery is a premier international law firm with a diversified business practice. Numbering more than 1,100 lawyers, we have offices in Boston, Brussels, Chicago, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Miami, Milan, Munich, New York, Orange County, Paris, Rome, Seoul, Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. Further extending our reach into Asia, we have a strategic alliance with MWE China Law Offices in Shanghai.

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