Local Legal Professionals Honored for Volunteer Service

Sunday, October 4, 2015

WASHINGTON – A local attorney and two Washington D.C., law firms received this year’s Pro Bono Legal Service Awards for outstanding volunteer legal service to low-income individuals from the Washington region. The awards were given on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015, at a brunch following the annual Red Mass for justices, judges, diplomats, lawyers and government officials.

The awards are given each year by the John Carroll Society, a Washington area organization that provides spiritual, intellectual, charitable and social opportunities for Catholic professionals and business men and women in service to the Archbishop of Washington.

The honorees are volunteers with the Catholic Charities Legal Network. The Legal Network offers free legal assistance to over 4,100 individuals each year, all of whom are below the poverty line. Legal assistance is offered at several locations in the District of Columbia and suburban Maryland through the generosity of volunteer attorneys. In addition, the network offers free legal education seminars to the community. Between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015, over 5,300 pro bono hours were donated by the Legal Network’s corps of over 650 attorney volunteers representing over 60 large and small law firms as well as sole practices. These hours were self-reported as of July 2015, and the Legal Network expects additional hours to be reported in the coming weeks and months. The estimated value of these hours is over $1.97 million

This year’s Pro Bono Legal Service Awards honorees are:

  • Professor Frances DeLaurentis and her first-year Georgetown Law students created a series of nine student-authored handbooks providing essential information and procedural guidelines for pro bono attorneys conducting intakes at Catholic Charities Legal Network. The handbooks covered family law, landlord/tenant law, and estate/probate law in Washington, D.C., and Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, Md. Over 500 hours were spent on the project, and the group is now working on the next series of imperative legal topics to benefit Legal Network. DeLaurentis recently authored an article, When Ethical Worlds Collide: Teaching Novice Legal Writers to Balance the Duties of Zealous Advocacy and Candor to the Tribunal, which appeared in the Drexel Law Review. She taught at Catholic University Law and was a partner of the law firm of Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand, Chartered before joining the faculty at Georgetown Law in 1999.
  • Attorneys at Keller and Heckman LLP have supported the Catholic Charities Legal Network since fall of 2013 with a large force of volunteer attorneys who assist with client intakes. The Keller & Heckman LLP law firm, which is located near the Legal Network’s office, often provides volunteer attorneys to staff extra shifts and frequently send volunteer attorneys for last-minute intakes at the Legal Network on short notice to ensure that client needs are met. The John Carroll Society Pro Bono Legal Award will be received by Messrs. Behr and Rubenstein on behalf of the law firm. Mr. Behr is a partner of Keller & Heckman and practices civil litigation and white collar defense, previously serving as an Assistant United State Attorney. Mr. Rubenstein has been an associate with the law firm since 2010 and advises firms and trade associations on compliance with food packaging and ingredient regulations globally. Rubenstein serves on the law firm’s pro bono committee, is a regular intake volunteer for the Legal Network and works to coordinate the law firm’s volunteer attorneys. Keller & Heckman LLP attorneys additionally volunteer with the American Association of Retired Person’s Legal Counsel for the Elderly, and the District of Columbia Bar Pro Bono Center’s Advice and Referral Clinic.
  • Widely acknowledged for its advocacy in complex litigation, representation before governmental agencies and advice in guiding business transactions, Steptoe & Johnson LLP is an international law firm with more than 500 attorneys. Since 1989, this law firm has volunteered with Catholic Charities Legal Network, currently staffing telephones for client intake on a weekly basis and accepting pro bono cases from the Legal Network over the decades. Attorneys have served many years on the Legal Network’s Advisory Council, including members of the law firm’s Pro Bono Counsel. James E. Rocap, III and John J. Kavanagh III will accept the John Carroll Society Pro Bono Legal Service award on behalf of the law firm. As a partner who practices in insurance law, complex business litigation and white collar defense, Mr. Rocap also chairs the law firm’s pro bono committee. In addition, he has acted as lead attorney in representing two death-row inmates, provided legal advice through the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless and is a board member of the D.C. Access to Justice Foundation.  Mr. Kavanagh, is a counsel with the firm and practices in the area of complex litigation, Mr. Kavanagh has been involved in a significant amount of firm’s pro bono work with the Legal Network.


The Archdiocese of Washington is home to 96 archdiocesan and independent Catholic schools in Washington, D.C., and Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s counties in Maryland.

Chieko Noguchi or Lindsey Frechou
[email protected]