Pro Bono Institute Honors Manatt for Groundbreaking Holocaust Survivors Initiative
NEW YORK, NY – November 16, 2009 – Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, earned the Pro Bono Institute (PBI) 2009 Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO) Partner Award for the firm’s vision, leadership and support of the groundbreaking Holocaust Survivors Justice Network. The award, which was also given to corporate partner Aetna and Justice Network cofounder Bet Tzedek Legal Services, was presented on November 12 at the PBI Annual Gala in New York.
PBI is a nonprofit organization that works to explore and identify new approaches to assist poor and disadvantaged individuals unable to secure legal assistance to address critical problems. The organization’s annual CPBO Partner Award recognizes team approaches to pro bono work that have a significant impact, include substantial involvement by in-house lawyers, demonstrate tangible steps toward making the partnership sustained, and show innovative substantive or structural approaches.
“This award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of all the Holocaust Survivors Justice Network volunteers who, through their tireless advocacy, continue to help individuals receive these long-overdue reparations,” said William T. Quicksilver, Manatt’s chief executive officer and managing partner. “Through our collaborative efforts with Bet Tzedek, Aetna, and all the Justice Network partners, we are able to positively impact the lives of many thousands of individuals and families across the nation.”
Launched in 2008 by Bet Tzedek and Manatt, the Justice Network’s first project provided free legal services to Holocaust survivors seeking German “Ghetto Work” reparations. Legal assistance was essential, as the German applications and declarations were complex. In fact, for survivors without legal representation, a high percentage of their applications were denied.
At the height of the project, clinics operated in 30 cities across the nation – the single largest coordinated pro bono legal effort in United States history. More than 100 law firms and corporate legal departments delivered legal services to thousands of survivors through the network’s unique pro bono legal clinic model.
“The network was an extremely ambitious undertaking. The coordination of thousands of staff and volunteers on this scale was unprecedented, but absolutely necessary to reach all of the Holocaust survivors affected,” explained Cristin Zeisler, Manatt’s director of pro bono activities and one of the architects of the Justice Network. “The success of the program cannot be measured only by the numbers, however; it has to be seen on a human level, with these reparations having a profound impact both financially and emotionally for these extraordinary men and women.”
The needs addressed by the Justice Network are urgent in light of the age of Holocaust survivors and the dire financial situation of many, with upwards of 25 percent of the survivors in the United States living below the poverty line. With the assistance of Justice Network volunteer lawyers, reparation application approvals are near 100 percent.
“The reparations the Justice Network has helped secure offer new opportunities to these individuals,” added Zeisler, who accepted the CPBO Partner Award on behalf of the firm. “We feel privileged to be a part of such an important effort, and we are already working on a ‘phase two’ project to guide more survivors through a new reparations program that will provide even greater financial support.”
Manatt has received several other prestigious national awards this year for its role in the creation and growing of the Justice Network, including the National Law Journal’s Pro Bono Award and the American Bar Association’s Pro Bono Publico Award.
“Our firm believes the practice of law is a privilege that carries with it societal responsibilities,” added Quicksilver. “Providing assistance to those who are denied access to justice is a central component of our effort to improve quality of life in our communities. Manatt has a long tradition of commitment to pro bono legal services and I congratulate our attorneys and staff on this honor.”
More information on the Holocaust Survivors Justice Network is available at www.holocaustsurvivorsprobono.org.
About Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, provides legal and consulting services to a global client base from offices in Los Angeles, Orange County, Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Sacramento, California; New York City and Albany, New York; and Washington, D.C. Manatt includes Manatt Health Solutions, a healthcare policy and strategic business advisory group, and ManattJones Global Strategies, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary that develops and implements strategies to expand client businesses and facilitate their effective competition in global markets. For more information, visit www.manatt.com, www.manatthealthsolutions.com, and www.manattjones.com.