Two Westchester County women recently won the New York State Bar Association’s 2012 President’s Pro Bono Service Awards.
Julia Santiago of Irvington was recognized for developing and leading uncontested divorce clinics for pro se clients at the Legal Services of the Hudson Valley. Lesley Rosenthal of Scarsdale was recognized for her volunteer work overseeing the Leadership Committee of the Charity Corps Program, which matches volunteer attorneys with nonprofit organizations in need of legal counsel.
The State Bar presented the awards at a Law Day luncheon on May 1 at the State Bar Center in Albany. State Bar President Vincent E. Doyle III of Buffalo (Connors & Vilardo) and President-elect Seymour W. James, Jr. of Brooklyn (Legal Aid Society) presided at this year’s ceremony.
“The work of pro bono service attorneys makes ‘justice for all’ a reality for New Yorkers. Whether they are a solo practitioner or work in a large law firm, every lawyer can help solve someone else’s problem,” said Doyle. “It is an honor to recognize such a distinguished group of recipients, including Ms. Santiago and Ms. Rosenthal. They represent the best of our profession.”
A former court stenographer, Santiago contacted the Legal Services of the Hudson Valley to volunteer immediately after her 2009 bar admission. In 2011, she devoted more than 100 hours helping clients with uncontested divorces. In addition, she helped develop and lead uncontested divorce pro se clinics, and her bilingual skills have eased the barrier for Spanish-speaking clients. Once a trainee, she is now a linchpin of the Legal Services of the Hudson Valley.
Rosenthal, in-house counsel for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, oversees the Leadership Committee of the Charity Corps Program, a joint project of the New York State Attorney General’s Office and the New York State Bar Association, which matches volunteer attorneys with nonprofit organizations in need of legal counsel. She is the author of the Good Counsel: Meeting the Legal Needs of Nonprofits.
In addition to honoring attorneys representing all of New York’s 13 judicial districts, awards were given to a lawyer practicing for less than 10 years or under the age of 36, a senior lawyer, a large law firm, a mid-size law firm, a small law firm, an in-house counsel, a government counsel, a law student and a law school group.
For a complete list of winners, go to www.nysba.org/probonowinners.
-Contributed by The New York State Bar Association.