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Hennepin County Bar Association Recognizes Members for Pro Bono Service
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News Release: February 13, 2012

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 in recognition of the time, knowledge, and devotion given utilizing legal skills for the good of our community.  The recipients of the 2012 awards have been announced, and they will be honored at the 32nd annual Bar Benefit on Thursday, March 8, where family, friends, and colleagues join together to celebrate, honor, and support the high ideals represented by these individuals.  Attorneys Ann L. Henry, Kate DeVries Smith, and Drew P. Schaffer will be recognized for their commitment to pro bono service.

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/judicial sector.

Ann L. Henry, recipient of The Distinguished Service Award, works for Mid Minnesota Legal Aid. For more than 30 years, Henry has been a leader in advocating for the rights of individuals with disabilities in Minnesota. In 1978, she joined Legal Aid’s litigation team in the federal class action Welsch v. Likins. She played a key role in that landmark case, which challenged conditions in state hospitals and put Minnesota in the national vanguard of disability rights.  Henry is widely acknowledged as one of the top experts in the state on health care issues affective people with disabilities and as a highly skilled policy advocate.  Henry has trained thousands of attorneys, individuals with disabilities, family members and disability advocates on health care funding, disability services, and the legal rights of individuals with disabilities.   

Kate DeVries Smith, will be recognized with the Private Sector Pro Bono Excellence Award. DeVries Smith, of Pauly, DeVries Smith, and Deffner, began volunteering for Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN) in 1998. Since then she has volunteered regularly at their Housing Court Project Clinic, providing representation to low-income clients dealing with serious housing issues, in danger of being homeless, or living in unsafe conditions. DeVries Smith has donated more than 600 hours in this time period and represented almost 100 clients.

Drew P. Schaffer received the Public/Judicial Sector Pro Bono Excellence Award. Schaffer has been a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis since 2005 specializing in tenant rights. After a tornado ripped through North Minneapolis in May 2011, Schaffer assumed the role of coordinator for the development and distribution of legal education materials designed to meet tornado victims’ needs.  Representation and service was provided to 110 storm-affected households; Schaffer himself represented ten of these households in eviction cases in housing courts, where each was expunged after a favorable result of dismissal or settlement.  His dedication during the aftermath of the storm is worthy of recognition. 

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.