NJSBA Pro Bono Awards

The NJSBA Pro Bono Awards recognize exemplary pro bono work that has a significant impact on access to justice for underserved communities in New Jersey.

Pro bono service, as defined by R. 1:21-11, is:

(i) legal assistance to low-income persons;

(ii) legal assistance to nonprofit charitable, religious, civic, community, or educational organizations or governmental entities in matters that are designed primarily to address the needs of low-income persons;

(iii) legal assistance to individuals, groups, or organizations seeking to secure, protect, or advance civil rights, civil liberties, or other rights of great public importance; or

(iv) legal assistance to nonprofit charitable, religious, civic, community, or educational organizations or governmental entities in matters in furtherance of their purposes, where payment of standard legal fees would significantly deplete the organization’s or entity’s economic resources or would otherwise be inappropriate.

Qualifying pro bono service does not include partisan political activity or service on a nonprofit board of directors or other service that is unrelated to the provision of legal representation or legal advice. It does include legal mentoring and training to prepare attorneys, or students in a law school clinical or pro bono program to provide qualifying pro bono service. Cases accepted on a contingency-fee basis do not constitute qualifying pro bono service regardless of whether the attorney receives a fee.

The following will be considered for all award categories:

● Demonstrated commitment to and passion for helping the underserved in New Jersey.
● Pro bono work primarily benefits people in need residing in New Jersey.
● Pro bono work satisfies needs of clients or communities that have been underserved.
● Pro bono work shows significant effort by the nominee, particularly in the past year. The Committee will consider the number of hours of pro bono service provided, number of cases handled, and number of clients impacted.


AWARD CATEGORIES

Listed below are the available award categories. The New Jersey State Bar Association Pro Bono Committee will choose award recipients from the nominees submitted.  Awards may or may not be presented in all award categories each year. No member of the New Jersey State Bar Association Pro Bono Committee is eligible to receive any of these awards. Nominees should not be attorneys who work for organizations that have their primary purpose as the provision of free legal services.

• Champion of Justice Pro Bono Award
This award recognizes the exemplary pro bono efforts of an individual attorney. In addition to the general criteria listed above, nominees in this category are evaluated on the scope of the individual lawyer’s pro bono involvement and his or her promotion of pro bono service by others.

Nominees for this award fall into one of three categories:

• Small—recognizing the efforts of a solo practitioner or a lawyer in a law firm or corporate legal department with 1-5 lawyers
• Medium—- recognizing the efforts of a lawyer in a law firm or corporate legal department with 6-25 lawyers
• Large— recognizing the efforts of a lawyer in a law firm or corporate legal department with 26 or more lawyers

• Pillar of Justice Pro Bono Award
This award recognizes significant and innovative pro bono contributions of law firms towards forwarding access to justice in New Jersey. In addition to the general criteria listed above, nominees in this category are evaluated based on the breadth and scope of the law firm’s pro bono involvement, promotion of pro bono service by its lawyers, and inventive approaches taken by the firm. Nominees will be evaluated against law firms of comparable sizes (small departments 2-25 lawyers, or large departments 26+ lawyers.)

• Distinguished New Lawyer Pro Bono Award
This award recognizes the pro bono excellence of new lawyers who have been in the practice of law for ten years or less. In addition to the general criteria listed above, nominees in this category are evaluated on the scope of the individual lawyer’s pro bono involvement and his or her promotion of pro bono service by others.

• Lifetime Achievement Pro Bono Award
This award recognizes the exemplary pro bono efforts of an attorney with a long history of work in the pro bono arena. In addition to the general criteria listed above, nominees in this category are evaluated based on the following criteria:

o   A career spanning at least 25 years with an established history of pro bono work
o   Leadership and inspiration to others; service as a role model and/or mentor
o   A lasting contribution to a field of law that impacts the underserved
o   Influence on the pro bono arena

• Mark Daniel Excellence in Pro Bono Award
Following in the tradition set by the late Mark Daniel, a visionary leader of pro bono efforts at Merck, the NJSBA, and nationally, this award recognizes exemplary pro bono efforts of corporate legal departments. In addition to the criterial listed above, nominees in this category are evaluated on the breadth and scope of the corporation’s pro bono legal involvement and its promotion of pro bono service by its lawyers. Nominees should highlight work that showcases the unique role that corporate legal departments play in forwarding access to justice in New Jersey. Nominees will be evaluated against corporate legal departments of comparable sizes (small departments 2-25 lawyers, or large departments 26+ lawyers.)

• Outstanding Law Student Pro Bono Award
This award recognizes exemplary pro bono efforts impacting access to justice for underserved communities in New Jersey by a law student. The award specifically recognizes a law student who has excelled in supporting pro bono or legal aid programs and/or who has been instrumental in the development of a pro bono program satisfying previously unmet legal needs. All law-related activities for which the nominee is credited must be within the realm of those permitted for law students or under the direction of a lawyer or law school program.

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