Davis Polk is delighted to announce the 2021 winners of the firm’s annual Pro Bono Awards.

In a particularly trying year when the COVID-19 pandemic created additional hardships for our pro bono clients, we honor three individual Davis Polk associates and four Davis Polk teams who unflinchingly met a demanding set of challenges and needs. These honorees consistently demonstrate the commitment, care and excellence to which we aspire in giving back to our broader community and assisting those in need – a commitment we are celebrating and reaffirming as part of 2021 Pro Bono Week.

In honor of our Pro Bono Award recipients, the firm will make charitable donations to nonprofits chosen by the individual honorees or associated with the work of the four teams we are recognizing.

Individual honorees

Luca Marzorati: Over the past year, Luca worked on several critical pro bono matters. He has represented and secured release for clients in immigration detention and worked on substantive immigration applications, petitions and appeals. In the non-immigration context, Luca is working with the Federal Defenders of New York on a RICO case assisting a young alleged co-conspirator with his defense.

Stephanie Mazursky: Stephanie has been working for more than a year on a petition on behalf of an incarcerated woman seeking a sentence reduction, her second case under New York’s Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act. This 2019 law acknowledges and provides potential relief to incarcerated persons who are victims of domestic violence and can show that the victimization was related to the crime. Stephanie was also involved in a custody and visitation trial in family court that resulted in a settlement and victory on behalf of our client.

Chase McReynolds: Chase is a member of a major Louisiana state case about indigent defense funding, and he has engaged in all aspects of this procedurally and substantively complex litigation. He also participated in an investigation into a hate crime committed against an Asian-American client. Most recently, after assisting with the briefing on a criminal appeal which was denied by the New York State Appellate Division, First Department, he successfully argued for leave to appeal to the New York State Court of Appeals.

Team honorees

Hague Convention litigation team: In this Hague Convention litigation in the Eastern District, a team of litigation and corporate associates represented a domestic violence victim who fled Trinidad to escape an abusive relationship and protect her child. Through a remote trial and extensive briefing, the team successfully established defenses to the Hague statute’s default of returning a child to their home country. This ruling, allowing the child to stay in New York, was later reaffirmed after the team prevailed against a motion to reconsider. This was not only a victory for our client, but created helpful precedent that will benefit other victims of domestic violence in the future.

The team has included pro bono counsel Sharon Katz and Dara Sheinfeld, associates Kathryn Bi, Melissa Danzo, Travis Mitchell, James Park, Sean Stefanik and Matthew Stratis Vasilakos, and legal assistants Angela Quach, Amy Walker, Amelia Wittig and Brandon Yu.

Hong Kong non-refoulement matters team: The Hong Kong office has for many years worked closely with the Justice Centre Hong Kong to provide representation to dozens of individuals and families seeking safety in Hong Kong. In its most recent matters, teams from the office have aided a family from Rwanda and an individual from Somalia, ensuring that they will not be returned to their countries of origin or be subject to continued persecution. The office has also recently obtained damages for a client from Ethiopia for whom such non-refoulement relief was previously granted.

The team has included partner Martin Rogers, counsel Jonathan Chang and Yuan Zheng, associates Joyce Chow, Bo Huang, Lincoln Jim, Enoch Lee, Alice Leung, Chautney Oluwole, Mark Qin, Sybil Sam and Jonathan Sit, law clerk Yifei Yang, legal managers Lok Cheung, Jacky Fung and Caroline Wang, and e-discovery manager Jason Lo.

Start Small Think Big entrepreneur clinic team: This team has provided legal assistance to under-resourced small business owners from marginalized communities as part of our new and ongoing Entrepreneur Advising Clinic, sponsored by the nonprofit Start Small Think Big. Lawyers from our corporate practices including IP & Tech Transactions and Mergers & Acquisitions provided consultations on topics such as online privacy policies and terms of use, business contracts and entity formation. Through this work, our lawyers have made significant contributions to the economic development of New York City communities by helping small business owners who would otherwise lack access to legal advice.

The team has included partners John Amorosi, David Bauer, Michael Davis and Marc Williams, pro bono counsel Nancy Marchand, associates Marisa Bannon, Alison Chin, Kristy Choi, Jenny Dai, Mikaela Dealissia, Mary Jane Dumankaya, David Frey, Dream Montgomery, Lisa Ogust, Joshua Shirley, Hilary Smith and Brette Trost, law clerk Graham Duff, and legal assistant Jennifer Asnis.

Jim Crow Juries Project: The Jim Crow Juries Project has been developed with the assistance of the Promise of Justice Initiative (PJI), a racial justice project in Louisiana focused most recently on obtaining relief for people serving prison sentences based upon convictions by non-unanimous juries. Our work stemmed from a U.S. Supreme Court decision that found convictions by non-unanimous juries to be unconstitutional. Because the Supreme Court later held that this decision did not apply retroactively under federal law, most of Davis Polk’s current work with PJI focuses on seeking relief under Louisiana state law. To date, two Davis Polk clients have been released from prison.

The team has included partner John Banes, counsel Mari Byrne, Aryeh Falk and Denis McInerney, pro bono counsel Sharon Katz, Diane O. Lucas and Dara Sheinfeld, associates John Atchley, Michele Babkine, Chen Chen, Lisa Daniels, Melissa Danzo, Roy Dixon, Keith Dore, Brendan Eng, Jordyn Giannone, Stephanie Hansen, Ian Hogg, Kendall Howell, Jennifer Kalmanides, Robert King, Grace Lee, Josh Lefebvre, Travis Mitchell, Dream Montgomery, Paulina Perlin, Kanysha Phillips, Jane Ramage, Tim Sullivan, Daniel Thomson, Roshaan Wasim and Ben Wasserman, law clerks James Butler, Kamali Houston, Elena Joffroy, Tully Moyer, Greg Travers and Daniel Zhang, and legal assistants Edgar Halford and Jack Hannah.

Learn more about Davis Polk’s Pro Bono program.