Davis Polk is delighted to announce the winners of the firm’s 2020 Annual Pro Bono Awards.
As is tradition, this year we honor three individuals who exemplify the excellence and commitment to which we aspire in giving back to our broader community and assisting those in need of legal services.
We also are pleased to share the addition of a new category to our awards, recognizing a team for outstanding work on a project.
- James Park (First Place): James has been engaged in appeals before the Second Circuit and related efforts in state court to prevent the removal of detained immigrants. Much of his work has addressed the complex issue of whether a state law conviction subjects an immigrant to removability under the Immigration and Nationality Act based upon the “categorical approach” analysis. One of the appeals led to a petition for a writ of certiorari as well as a collateral motion in state court to vacate the underlying guilty plea on the ground that the client was misled to believe that it would not have immigration-related consequences.
James has also continued his work on behalf of affirmative asylum seekers. He is participating in a Hague Convention “child abduction” case recently tried remotely in the Eastern District of New York where he conducted several witness examinations.
- Catherine Kennedy (Second Place): Catherine has worked on U-Visa and defensive asylum matters, and is currently working with a team to assist a derivative child of a U-Visa client who has been denied a visa.
- Kanysha Phillips (Third Place): Kanysha has engaged in a variety of pro bono work. Her contributions include assisting with a Legal Aid appeal, representing an incarcerated person in Louisiana as part of the Promise of Justice Initiative, seeking relief from a conviction based upon a non-unanimous jury verdict, and joining the Justice Task Force support team. She also teaches trial skills to fifth graders at the One World School in the Bronx.
- Project Award: COVID-19 Project
Forty-eight lawyers and legal assistants, comprising the COVID-19 Project, helped over 30 small businesses in New York City address legal issues they faced due to the pandemic. Through remote clinic consultations, the volunteers advised small businesses on financial relief available under the CARES Act, commercial lease issues, CARES Act unemployment relief, contracts, and tax issues.
The remote clinics were sponsored by the City Bar Justice Center, the Lawyers Alliance for New York (“LANY”), and the Small Business Legal Relief Alliance (“SBLRA”), a network of New York law firms and legal service providers working together to help New York City’s neighborhood businesses stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Participants include partners Brian Lichter and Mario Verdolini, Pro Bono Counsel Nancy Marchand, counsel Welton Blount, Katia Brener, Daniel Forester, Susan Kennedy and Dan Newman, associates John Atchley, Michele Babkine, Cory Bettel, Eric Cheng, Hillary Coleman, Michael Comstock, Rachel Feldstein, Joseph Gerstel, Gene Goldmintz, Paulina Gordon, Rachel Hoberman, Ryan Johansen, Jennifer Kalmanides, Elina Khodorkovsky, Morgan Lee, Eric Lewin, Suiwen Liang, Charlie Lin, Dmitriy Molchanov, Russell Quarles, Nadia Raynes, Carol Rodrigues, Tyler Senackerib, Brad Sherman, Jeremy Sklaroff, Nick Soilleux, Greg Swanson, Brittany Taylor, Lex Varga, Kim Won, Lucas Wozny, Jolie Yang, Liang Zhang and Brooke Zheng, law clerk Brendon Francis, summer associate Marquis Pullen, and legal assistant Wenjia Yu.
The firm will make charitable donations to non-profits of their choice in their honor.