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D.C. Bar Announces 2021 Annual Award Winners

April 22, 2021

By Jeremy Conrad

The District of Columbia Bar congratulates the winners of its 2021 Annual Awards honoring the exemplary efforts of those individuals and organizations that helped ensure the advancement of the profession and improvement of the legal community. These contributions include the promotion of pressing social justice issues, the provision of volunteer services that expand access to justice, and the development of projects and initiatives that support these important goals.

Frederick B. Abramson Award
New D.C. Bar Website and E-Commerce Catalog

The D.C. Bar’s Information Technology team delivered a timely refresh of dcbar.org. Begun in the summer of 2019, efforts to improve the Bar’s “public face” became particularly meaningful as, amidst the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the digital delivery of information and services became increasingly vital and necessary. The refreshed website and e-commerce catalog addressed ease-of-use and accessibility issues, improving the online experience of members by providing aesthetic and efficient tools for searching and filtering course content. In addition to other improvements, new content management software has provided enhanced security for users during a period of heightened concern about data privacy and security.

Community of the Year
Corporation, Finance and Securities Law Community

The Corporation, Finance and Securities Law Community brought together D.C. Bar members, government agencies, industry experts, and others to address important, timely issues affecting corporations, investors, and counsel. The Community’s new programs centered on diversity and inclusion in business and finance; environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing and corporate disclosure; data privacy and security; and financial inclusion, investor protection, and education. Programs relating to racial inequality and gender parity were met with enthusiasm by the legal community, drawing record numbers of participants. Seeing demand among its members for this type of programming, the Community established a Diversity & Inclusion in Business & Finance Subcommittee in January 2020. In addition, the group established three task forces addressing climate change and ESG; data privacy and security; and financial inclusion, investor protection, and education.

Voluntary Bar Association of the Year
Washington Council of Lawyers

Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the Washington Council of Lawyers seeks to train, advocate, mentor, and build community for the purpose of promoting pro bono service and the practice of public interest law within the District. In 2020 the organization hosted more than 70 events and trainings that attracted more than 4,000 attendees. Through its Racial Justice Series and other programs, the Washington Council of Lawyers worked to inform the legal community on the impact of racial bias and racism in the legal system and to ameliorate the disparate impact of evictions and other civil legal actions on people of color. The organization also served an important function as an advocate for the continued funding of civil legal services, the protection of pro bono litigants’ rights, and for increased opportunities for D.C. government lawyers to engage in pro bono representation.

Laura N. Rinaldi Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year
Daniel Cantor, Arnold & Porter

Daniel Cantor, a partner at Arnold & Porter, is acknowledged for his career commitment to pro bono work and recent remarkable efforts relating to pandemic relief. Early in the outbreak, Cantor conceived of a project intended to ensure the receipt of unemployment benefits by workers in the restaurant and hospitality industries, though the scope quickly expanded to include the provision of pro bono assistance to other sectors such as retail, childcare, hair salons, taxis, the arts, and others. Cantor assembled a team of more than 100 lawyers across eight offices who provided counseling on unemployment benefits, claims denial appeals, and the defense of allegations of overpayment. The group has provided assistance to more than 800 individuals. Cantor also led efforts to support small businesses by providing them information and resources about loans, programs, and other benefits needed to weather the economic disruptions of the pandemic. In addition to his leadership, he has personally represented clients in a number of matters, including cases relating to wrongful eviction, benefits denial, and housing condition violations impacting low-income and elderly tenants.

Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year
Covington & Burling LLP

Covington & Burling’s D.C. office contributed more than 119,000 hours of pro bono service in the course of 2020. In the past year, Covington & Burling answered a call to action on pressing national issues with contributions to the fight for racial justice, the defense of voting rights, and the protection of detained individuals from COVID-19. It also continued its strong commitment to serving the local community through involvement in programs ensuring the availability of civil legal aid for the indigent. Providing outside counsel for more than 500 nonprofit organizations and small businesses, Covington lawyers advised on a wide variety of issues and offered critical information and resources. Their litigation and advocacy resulted in a transformation of the city’s treatment of juvenile offenders, action on improving the District’s investment in community health measures, and a challenge to the city’s homeless encampment clearing protocols. Additionally, Covington served more than 500 nonprofit organizations and small businesses by providing outside counsel on a variety of transactional and compliance issues.

Earlier in April, the D.C. Bar announced that it will honor Mary Catherine Malin of the U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Legal Advisor and, posthumously, George Valentine of the D.C. Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel with its 2021 Beatrice Rosenberg Award for Excellence in Government Service.

The D.C. Bar has also chosen David Reiser of Zuckerman Spaeder LLP as this year’s William J. Brennan Jr. Award recipient for his excellence, commitment, and dedication in the areas of civil rights, civil liberties, and the public interest.

The award winners will be recognized at the D.C. Bar Celebration of Leadership on June 24.

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