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Chief Judge Judith Kaye to Speak at NYLAG Event Recognizing Volunteers & Pro Bono Attorneys; Firms Gibson, Dunn; Orrick to Be Honored.

NEW YORK, Feb. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- The Honorable Judith S. Kaye, Chief Judge of the State of New York, will be the guest speaker at NYLAG's Volunteer and Pro Bono Recognition Event, taking place February 2, 2005. The event will honor the 45 law firms, and the 140 pro bono attorneys, paralegals and in-house volunteers who provided over 77,000 hours of legal service to NYLAG's clients last year.

The law firms of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP will be presented awards in recognition of their pro bono service and support of NYLAG's work on behalf of low income New Yorkers. NYLAG in-house volunteer Gerard Tanella, Esq. will also be honored for his service over the past two years at NYLAG.

"We are delighted to celebrate the generosity of the many volunteers who donate their time and expertise to NYLAG," said Abby S. Milstein, Esq., President of NYLAG's Board of Directors. "These law firms and individuals are joining with NYLAG's professional staff in providing essential and free legal services to New Yorkers most in need."

The Honorable Judith S. Kaye will be the event's special guest speaker. Appointed New York State's Chief Judge in 1993, she became the first woman to hold the state's highest judiciary office. She was also the first woman to serve on the State Court of Appeals when appointed as an Associate Judge a decade earlier. As the chief judicial officer of the State of New York, Judge Kaye oversees the New York State Unified Court System, with more than 1,200 judges in 363 courthouses across the state. During her tenure, she has been an outspoken advocate for "problem solving justice". She has initiated notable reforms in the Court System, including an overhaul of the state's adoption process.

"Judge Kaye's distinguished history of promoting pro bono service embodies the spirit of volunteerism we are celebrating at this event," said Yisroel Schulman, Esq., NYLAG's Executive Director. "Her commitment to improve our legal system for the benefit of all New Yorkers makes Judge Kaye the perfect keynote speaker for our event."

Among the firms being honored for their pro bono service, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher (Gibson Dunn) will be receiving the 2004 "Law Firm Honoree" award. Gibson Dunn attorneys, both litigators and non-litigators, have represented NYLAG clients pro bono in matters including social public benefits, housing, immigration, divorce proceedings for victims of domestic violence and employment-related matters. The firm has also provided in-kind support to NYLAG, including the recent donation of IBM laptop computers. With approximately 800 attorneys in 13 locations worldwide, Gibson Dunn representative clients include some of the world's largest multinational corporations in all major industries, leading government entities, commercial and investment banks, start-up ventures, emerging growth businesses, partnerships and individuals. In addition to NYLAG's award, Gibson Dunn was recently chosen as the "Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year" by the Public Counsel Law Center, the country's largest public interest law firm.

Receiving the "Special Honoree" award will be Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe (Orrick). With offices across the United States, Europe, and Asia, Orrick's lawyers are engaged in precedent-setting deals and cases around the globe. Through a combination of volunteerism, financial contributions, and pro bono legal services, Orrick supports organizations, such as NYLAG, that strengthen and build better communities. Orrick has provided seed funding for two Equal Justice Works fellowship programs at NYLAG: the Welfare to Work Project and the Homecare Rights Project. Both programs provide direct legal representation, community outreach, and impact litigation work to assist individuals in accessing their legal rights. NYLAG has also been fortunate to have Orrick's firm-wide Partner in Charge of Pro Bono Programs Jill Rosenberg, Esq. serve on its Board of Directors. In addition to pro bono work and serving on boards of various non-profit organizations, Orrick attorneys and professional staff organize food and toy drives during the holidays, volunteer to teach in local schools, and participate in a variety of fundraising and volunteer days.

NYLAG will present the "Volunteer of the Year" Award to Gerard Tanella, Esq. a volunteer at NYLAG since March 2003. Mr. Tanella began volunteering at NYLAG with a strong desire to help protect the rights of low-income and less fortunate people. Since that time Gerard has been a contributor to many of NYLAG's units. He has worked tirelessly on behalf of clients, assisting with case development, corresponding with courts, providing intake consultation, and representing clients successfully at hearings.

"Together, these honorees represent both the very best of NYLAG and the range of volunteer opportunities available," said Richard Gruenberger, Director of NYLAG's Volunteer Unit. "With the number of worthy cases far outstripping the available resources of NYLAG's staff, the work of local law firms and volunteers are integral and essential to NYLAG's mission of providing New York City's most at-risk individuals with the representation they need and deserve."

Event Information

The Volunteer and Pro Bono Recognition Event will be held February 2, 2005 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm at the law offices of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP at 767 Fifth Avenue (between East 58th and 59th Street), 25th Floor, New York, New York 10153.


Founded in 1990, the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) is a not-for- profit law office providing free civil legal services to low income New Yorkers. A full service agency, NYLAG provides consultation, representation and advocacy. Last year, NYLAG handled 36,619 cases and impacted additional thousands through successful impact litigation and community legal education. For more information on NYLAG, go to

CONTACT: Bryan Lapine of New York Legal Assistance Group, +1-212-613-5062,

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Date:Feb 1, 2005
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