We were delighted to learn that McDermott Will & Emery was selected by
the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal
Services to receive one of three 2010 Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards for
outstanding pro bono work. Boston partners Melissa Nott Davis and Edward
Leibensperger received special recognition for their individual efforts.
The awards ceremony was held last night in the main courtroom at the Adams
Courthouse, Boston, MA.
Ms. Davis, co-chair of the Boston Pro Bono & Community Service Committee,
said of the award: "Every year lawyers, staff and senior management at McDermott
Will & Emery dedicate countless hours to providing pro bono services.
Giving back to our community and assisting those who are unable to afford legal
representation is one of McDermott’s core values and we are honored to be
recognized by the Committee for our commitment to pro bono and the
In particular, the award honors the Firm’s long-standing local and national
collaboration with the Medical-Legal Partnership │Boston and the National Center
for Medical-Legal Partnership; its extensive work with the Children’s Law Center
of Massachusetts; and its work on Dwayne v. Granholm, a case brought on behalf
of 19,000 children in Michigan’s foster care system.
Head of McDermott's Pro Bono & Community Service Committee, Guy Collier,
commented: "I would like to congratulate Melissa and Ned for their personal
recognition, and all the Boston lawyers. We consider it our unique
privilege and professional responsibility to ensure that low income and
disadvantaged individuals have access to justice. It is truly remarkable
to be honored by the SJC’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services."
Since 2005 McDermott has been collaborating with the Medical Legal
Partnership │Boston (MLP | Boston) at Boston Medical Center, a groundbreaking
program that addresses social determinants of health and seeks to eliminate
barriers to healthcare in order to help vulnerable populations meet their basic
needs and stay healthy. Medical-legal partnership allows lawyers to
practice preventive law alongside practitioners of preventive medicine.
McDermott and MLP are working to shape a new model of legal practice and health
care delivery. Now replicated at more than 200 sites across the United
States and Canada, the model ensures that vulnerable patients' basic needs (for
food, housing, education, health care and stability/safety) are met as part of a
comprehensive public health strategy. More than 70 McDermott lawyers,
summer associates, paralegals and staff have donated over 1,800 hours valued at
more than $600,000 to MLP projects.
Ms. Davis has led the McDermott team working on the McDermott/MLP partnership
and on a two year project with Children's Law Center of Massachusetts
(CLCM). The CLCM project involved an extensive study on the impact of life
without parole sentencing of juveniles in Massachusetts under the current law
and resulted in the publication of the report, Until They Die a Natural Death:
Youth Sentenced to Life Without Parole in Massachusetts, released September
2009. Melissa coordinated the work of McDermott attorneys and staff,
totaling more than 2,300 hours of professional time. Additionally, the
McDermott Will & Emery Charitable Foundation donated $10,000 to support the
publication and distribution of the report.
In 2008, Mr. Leibensperger led McDermott’s partnership with Children's
Rights, a not-for-profit, advocacy organization, in a federal class action in
the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against the
Governor of the State of Michigan and three officials of the Michigan Department
of Human Services (DHS) in their official capacities. This case, Dwayne B.
v. Granholm, charged the state with violating the constitutional rights of the
approximately 19,000 children in its foster care system by failing to protect
their safety and well-being and to find them permanent homes. McDermott
and Children's Rights obtained a settlement on the eve of trial that mandated
top-to-bottom reform and federal court oversight of Michigan’s long-failing
child welfare system and resolved the constitutional claims. Mr.
Leibensperger personally devoted more than 600 hours to the case.
Keith, Justice Spina, Justice Cordy, Melissa Nott Davis, Ned Leibensperger, Guy