New York Law Journal (“NYLJ”) has selected Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP (“SRZ”) to receive the 2015 Lawyers Who Lead by Example Award for the firm’s pro bono work in the landmark right to counsel case of Hurrell-Harring v. New York (“Hurrell-Harring”). SRZ served with the New York Civil Liberties Union Foundation (“NYCLU”) as co-counsel on the case since 2007. SRZ is one of only two “Large Firms” that will be honored for their pro bono work at the annual NYLJ event to be held in New York City on Oct. 14.
The Lawyers Who Lead by Example Award pays tribute to public service-minded attorneys who have made an outstanding contribution to their communities by donating substantial time and expertise to help their fellow citizens. The honor also recognizes leading lawyers who have handled complicated litigation that has altered the way institutions relate to their communities or has forced a change in public policy.
SRZ and the NYCLU recently announced the historic settlement of Hurrell-Harring, which overhauls public defense in five New York counties and lays the foundation for statewide reform of New York’s broken public defense system. The settlement agreement, which a state judge approved on March 11, 2015, was reached the day before the NYCLU and SRZ’s lawsuit was set to begin trial after seven years of litigation.
“It is a great honor to be recognized as ‘Lawyers Who Lead by Example.’ We hope our work on the Hurrell-Harring case will lead to better representation for poor defendants who are being systematically deprived of their constitutional right to counsel,” said Gary Stein, SRZ litigation partner and a former federal prosecutor, who, alongside special counsel for pro bono initiatives Daniel L. Greenberg and litigation associate Kristie M. Blase, led the firm’s extensive pro bono effort in the case.
The SRZ team involved more than 160 attorneys and dozens of paralegals, litigation support specialists and librarians, all working together to effect change. “Directly as a result of the Hurrell-Harring litigation, long-overdue reforms are already underway, and indigent clients and their cases are receiving the critically needed care and attention they deserve,” commented Mr. Greenberg.
“We are pleased to be recognized for our work in helping to secure the mandate of legal representation to the poor and we look forward to the positive effects of this groundbreaking settlement for many years to come,” said Alan S. Waldenberg, chair of the firm’s Executive Committee and chair of the Tax Group.
SRZ has a long history as a leader in pro bono legal services and is currently engaged in hundreds of pro bono matters. With broad experience and expertise in the legal issues affecting nonprofit organizations, SRZ lawyers provide comprehensive and multidisciplinary representation on all aspects of their clients’ operations and management. The firm serves approximately 75 nonprofit clients in this outside “general counsel” role.
To read the SRZ press release, click here.
To read the New York Law Journal’s profile of SRZ for the Lawyers Who Lead by Example Award, click here.