Ballard Spahr lawyer William A. Hicks III will be honored with the Adoption Sustaining Award of Excellence by the Children’s Law Center at today’s Volunteer Lawyers Program (VLP) of Maricopa County’s For Love of Justice Reception.
Mr. Hicks is a longtime volunteer for the Children’s Law Center, where he dedicates his time to helping family members and others obtain custody of young relatives or foster children when the parents cannot or will not care for them. Both before and after joining Ballard Spahr in 2007, Mr. Hicks has devoted hundreds of hours assisting in the adoptions of vulnerable children. He credits his wife, a Superior Court judge, with encouraging his initial involvement in children’s advocacy.
“The thing I find most gratifying about volunteering through VLP is the opportunity to be of service to individuals and families who are unable to navigate through our legal system alone,” said Mr. Hicks. “They lack the ability and/or the money to engage qualified counsel on their own. Successfully completing an adoption which joins a loving family with an orphan, or an abandoned or abused child, is truly gratifying.”
The Children’s Law Center was founded in 1998 to protect the legal rights of underprivileged and at-risk children in Maricopa County. It holds free legal clinics for teens, coordinates guardian ad litem representation, counsels on adoption and guardian matters, and ensures that disabled children receive the benefits to which they are entitled. The organization has helped hundreds of children.
Mr. Hicks is a public finance lawyer who focuses his practice on tax-exempt finance, including general obligation, revenue, and special assessment bonds; lease-purchase certificates of participation; and nonprofit corporations. He is the Chairman of the Board of Directors and a member of the Executive Committee of the Arizona Council on Economic Education and the President of the Princeton Alumni Association of Central and Northern Arizona.
Troy Froderman, Chair of Polsinelli’s Pro Bono Committee and a shareholder in the firm’s Phoenix office, accepting the award in Washington D.C. from Jo-Ann Wallace, the President and CEO of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA.)
The National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) honored national law firm Polsinelli at its 2014 Exemplar Award Dinner. Polsinelli earned the prestigious Beacon of Justice Award for its commitment to the delivery of pro bono legal services to those who cannot afford counsel including volunteer work done in connection with the Volunteer Lawyers Program Children’s Law Center Minor Guardianship Project. The firm was one of 25 law firms selected from across the United States for this distinction. Recipients were recognized for their devotion of significant pro bono time and resources and their dedication to creating and implementing innovative strategies that improve life outcomes for low-income individuals.
Approximately 400 attorneys, general counsel and advocates gathered for the NLADA Exemplar Award Dinner to pay tribute to those lawyers who give of themselves to improve the quality of representation for people who are unable to pay for legal assistance and to salute outstanding individuals who set an example by their dedication, achievement, leadership and vision. The event was held at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington D.C.
Troy Froderman, Chair of Polslinelli’s pro bono program, attended the awards ceremony and accepted the award on behalf of the firm. “I am deeply honored that our firm has been recognized for its significant commitment to pro bono services.” said Froderman. “Attorneys across our firm are making a significant positive difference in the lives of people who might not otherwise be able to access legal representation.” Anthony Merrill and Christina Kelly, two of the Polsinelli attorneys who volunteer their time with the Children’s Law Center, as well as William Blakely, Lauren Desantis-Then, Daniel Donahue, and Andy Wright of Polsinelli’s Washington D.C. office were also in attendance.
The Children’s Law Center has named Polsinelli as its 2013 Law Firm of the Year in recognition of the exceptional pro bono service undertaken by Polsinelli attorneys over the past year. The firm was selected for its volunteer efforts in connection with the Minor Guardianship Program that assists vulnerable children whose parents are not able or willing to care for them.
“We are honored that the Children’s Law Center has selected Polsinelli as its Law Firm of the Year,” said Troy Froderman, chair of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee. “Our firm is deeply committed to providing legal support to those who would otherwise not be able to access it. As attorneys we have an obligation to give back to our communities in ways that ensure that all people are able to secure and preserve their rights under the law.”
The Children’s Law Center was established in 1998 by the Volunteer Lawyers Program (VLP) and co-sponsored by the Maricopa County Bar Association and Community Legal Services. Its goal is to address the unmet legal needs of children. Over 120 attorneys from firms throughout the Valley volunteer each year to fill gaps in legal assistance for children of diverse ethnic, racial and economic backgrounds. Current programs include Free Advice Clinics for Teens, the Court Advisor Project, the Minor Guardianship Project, the Guardianship Clinic, Teens at Work, the Adoption Project and Medical Legal Partnership.
“We are so grateful for the time and legal talent that Polsinelli’s attorneys have given so freely to the public through the Guardianship Program” said Roni Tropper, Esq., Children’s Law Center Program Coordinator. “They saw the tremendous need and offered to step in and take responsibility for all of the cases at one of our two guardianship clinic locations held monthly in English and quarterly in Spanish. They have been doing that now for three years.”
Tony Merrill, a shareholder at Polsinelli, spearheads the firm’s involvement in the Guardianship Program. “Volunteering to assist family members so that they can become legal guardians and thereby access health care for the children, enroll them in school or obtain other much needed services is very rewarding.” said Merrill.