MINNEAPOLIS: -- Each year, the Hennepin County Bar Association (HCBA) recognizes three attorneys who have made a significant contribution through pro bono service. The Pro Bono Publico awards are presented to lawyers in recognition of the time, knowledge, and devotion given in service to the community. The recipients of the 2013 awards were presented at the 33rd annual Bar Benefit on Thursday, March 7, where family, friends, and colleagues joined together to celebrate, honor, and support the high ideals represented by these individuals. Attorneys Fred Ojile, Anne Schryver Quincy, and Steven Kaplan were recognized for their commitment to pro bono service. In addition, those present took time to recognize the recent passing of prior Distinguished Service Awardee, Bricker Lavick, for countless hours and unfailing commitment to access-to-justice efforts in the community.
Three distinct award categories honor the dedication of volunteer services. The Distinguished Service Award recognizes an individual for career-long volunteer work on behalf of the community and the two Excellence Awards recognize current or recent excellence in service by individuals–one from the private sector and one from the public sector.
Fred Ojile is this year’s recipient of The Distinguished Service Award. Ojile has been in private practice since 1980, focusing on family law, business, estate planning, and real estate. In 1985 he applied to the Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN), offering to work on one pro bono marital dissolution case per year. Ojile did not just live up to that volunteer commitment; he far exceeded it. He has taken on pro bono representation in numerous complicated family law cases that resulted in multi-day trials. Ojile has also served on VLN’s family law phone advice panel for all of these years.
“Fred is unique in that, not only is he willing to take on difficult cases when asked, he proactively seeks them out,” said Suzanne Pontinen, VLN executive director.
Anne Schryver Quincy of Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance is the recipient of this year’s Pro Bono Publico Award for a public sector attorney. Quincy has been a staff attorney since 1994. Most of her clients are homeless and suffer from serious mental or physical problems. In addition to providing representation for her clients at disability hearings, Quincy has helped many clients secure safe shelter, obtain appropriate identification documents, and receive health care benefits.
“Anne Quincy is an exceptional lawyer who combines wisdom, compassion, and legal expertise with fierce advocacy on behalf of the very poor and vulnerable,” said Greg Marita, deputy director of Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance. “She is a model for our staff as well as the broader legal community.”
Steven Kaplan is the recipient of the Pro Bono Publico Award for an attorney in the private sector. In May 2000, Fredrikson & Byron began representing Damon Thibodeaux, a death row inmate at the Louisiana State Penitentiary. Kaplan, a tax and business litigator, took the lead role for Fredrikson and worked for over 11 years with Barry Scheck at the Innocence Project, and with Denny LeBoeuf and Caroline Tillman, originally with the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana. He personally devoted more than 2,900 hours to Thibodeaux’s representation which culminated on September 27, 2012 with the District Court for Jefferson Parish’s order vacating the conviction and ordering Thibodeaux’s immediate release. When Thibodeaux was released the following day, Kaplan was among the legal team members there to meet and welcome him to freedom.
“Kaplan’s contributions to the legal proceedings were invaluable. But it was that contribution, coupled with his humanity, that sets his performance apart from others,” said John Koneck, Fredrikson & Byron president.
The HCBA is proud to recognize these members, each highly deserving of honor, as individuals who rise to the call and volunteer their time and knowledge for the benefit of our community. The HCBA also proudly supports legal access for all through a variety of direct service programs as well as through significant grants made to legal service providers by the Hennepin County Bar Foundation.
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