Pro Bono Awards
Alaska’s legal services providers - Alaska Pro Bono Program, Alaska Legal Services, Corporation, Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and the Alaska Immigration Justice Project - select each year a private practitioner and a firm that has donated extraordinary time, resources and talents to pro bono efforts in Alaska.
2009 Pro Bono Award Recipients
Oustanding Work of Private Practitioner - Retired Judge Tom Schultz
What do you say about a man who’s been called the “Jimmy Carter of judges” and devoted his life to service? 100 thank yous would never be enough. After 18 years on the bench and a few in California while working on graduate work in religious studies, Tom and Mary Schulz returned to Ketchikan to do what they’ve always done: spend time with family, fish as often as possible, and be deeply involved in their community. It was at a famed daily Ketchikan Bar Association coffee meeting that Tom mentioned he’d be willing to do pro bono during theirs summers in Alaska. Word travels fast. He got a call from the Alaska Bar Association’s Pro Bono Director Krista Scully the very same day.
Described as the ‘Jimmy Carter of judges’ by a fellow legal community colleague because “He is just what was needed in this community—someone with the time and energy and outstanding ability to speak for those who most need it. I don’t know that he would necessarily like being compared to Jimmy Carter but he is something of the Jimmy Carter of retired judges. Instead of pursuing a generous income as a mediator or being of counsel to a prestigious firm, he has dedicated his retirement years to helping others for little, if any, compensation, and I suspect, often without due thanks. We are blessed to have him.”
We feel blessed to have Tom Schulz working with us too. His pro bono work for the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault has kept people safe, start over, and/or move on with dignity. In fact, the bulk of his work both in Alaska and California has been devoted to helping battered women. Since 1996 Tom has basically volunteered full-time with the Good Shepherd Shelter in California. When contacted by the Alaska Bar Association for information, Sister Ann of the shelter said, “You couldn’t have picked a more deserving recipient for your award.” In addition, he’s done work for the Alaska Pro Bono Program in helping review potential prisoner claims.
Outstanding Work of a Law Firm - Lane Powell
Do you know what the standing ethics rule on pro bono service encourages an attorney to give each year? 50 hours. This year’s pro bono law firm recipient expects its attorneys to devote double that each year to pro bono activities. Thanks to Lane Powell’s Anchorage office, 130 Alaskans have had the opportunity to meet with a lawyer through the popular ‘Attorney For A Day’ program with Alaska Legal Services Corporation or the very special non-contested adoption project that the firm adopted in 2007.
A law firm with a strong business law background is not where you would normally find volunteers seeking to move out of that zone; however, in 2007 all of that changed for Lane Powell. Since then the firm touts a 100% pro bono participation rate for their attorneys who have advised clients impacted by illegal evictions, victims of domestic violence, seniors risking loss of public benefits, and eager parents waiting to adopt a child. Even after brief client meetings through the ‘Attorney For A Day’, it was not unusual for firm members to follow-up with clients. Andrea Girolamo-Welp would routinely go out of her way to follow-up on consultations, Matt Claman would write follow-up letters, Peter Partnow would offer additional assistance, and Brewster Jamieson has become the firm’s expert on adoptions.
A letter from Lane Powell to the legal community