The Virginia State Bar Access to Legal Services Committee has awarded McGuireWoods LLP the 2017 Frankie Muse Freeman Organizational Pro Bono Award, which is named for the first woman appointed to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
McGuireWoods attorneys have donated 18,834 pro bono hours over the past 19 months from their Virginia offices on matters ranging from uncontested divorce cases in southwestern and central Virginia, to refugee children in Special Immigrant Juvenile cases, to youth tried as adults in serious juvenile offender cases, to non-profit organizations in Charlottesville, the bar said. The lawyers also have represented thousands of individuals whose drivers licenses were suspended for unpaid court costs and fines.
McGuireWoods was nominated by Legal Aid Justice Center executive director Mary Bauer. She said the firm has assisted the LAJC on its Drive Down the Debt Campaign by handling litigation that challenges the suspension of driver’s licenses of poor people who lack the means to pay fines and court costs. The effort has committed significant organizational resources to dismantling systems that disproportionately impact and penalize poor people, Bauer said.
“This is pro bono leadership,” she wrote in her nominating letter. “Not just a few hours here, or a few hours there, fulfilling the commitment to access to justice in its most hollow form. But recognizing a systemic injustice that devastates the lives of hundreds of thousands of low-income people and their families using the resources, influence, and legal prowess of the firm to make it right.”
Additionally, a team of McGuireWoods attorneys supervises UVa law students on a variety of pro bono cases. The firm also provides leadership, along with the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation and Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, to help expand the access to legal services to clients with issues in “non-core” legal aid cases through the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation Triage Project.
The award will be presented at the Pro Bono Awards Dinner during the VSB Pro Bono Conference on Oct. 18 in Charlottesville.