2011 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.
Margaret O’Toole Rogers
Margie and her colleagues at Foster Rogers had an already impressive history of contributing pro bono service even before a pivotal case came to them in 2006. It was in 2006 that Margie began a case for the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault that would eventually span several years, 1,000 hours of pro bono service, and ended in 2009 with a domestic violence survivor retaining the custody of her children.
Our Facebook sources tell us that Margie often posted status updates about working in the office on weekends and she was rarely alone. Her law partner, administrative staff and other key players would often potluck together at the office to stay motivated, well fed, and focused on their pro bono clients.
It’s been two years since the close of that case and one might think that Margie might have been a little gun shy about continuing their volunteer work but you’d be wrong. She has remained steadfastly committed to her pro bono work and provided continued assistance to ANDVSA clients in protection order and custody cases.
Borgeson and Kramer—Firm
The law firm—formerly Borgeson & Burns—answered the call for help from the local Fairbanks domestic violence shelter in 2009. Through assistance with the Bar’s Pro Bono Director, Krista Scully, a pro bono project was created to provide shelter clients with limited pro se assistance in partnership with ANDVSA. The firm agreed to donate up to 10 hours per month to these clients through the shelter’s legal advocate. It was originally staffed by three attorneys, two of whom left shortly after the project began, and with the support of the firm, associate Shelby Mathis continued the project. Two years and more than 300 volunteer hours later the firm continues their important work of helping victims of domestic violence and sexual assault navigate the family law courts.
Robin Fowler took the pro bono world by storm. Since becoming an attorney in 2009, she has taken five cases for ANDVSA. It began innocently enough…she contacted them to assist with casework which turned into protection order work and soon she was helping the same victim of domestic violence to gain custody of her children. She is a pro bono director’s dream: she’s courageous to leave her comfort zone and learn new areas of law as her clients need it.
And only the second to receive the award for pro bono service for a Government attorney.
Cook Schuhmann & Groseclose—Lifetime Achievement
Equal justice in Alaska wouldn’t be the same without the firm of Cook Schuhmann & Groseclose. For several decades the founding firm members and associates that have joined have cultivated pro bono service into their business practices. You don’t work for this firm without the expectation of giving back.
Our friends at Alaska Legal Services Corporation summed it up beautifully when they said, “The firm has gone above and beyond to support the provision of civil legal services in Fairbanks and rural areas. They represent the best of their profession; their contributions make a difference for victims of domestic violence, seniors, tenants, or people who have lost a loved one.”
Cook Schuhmann & Groseclose join a short list of Alaska history makers: only four other firms or individuals have received this distinction.