Local Legal Professionals Honored for Volunteer Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two local attorneys 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 in the Washington region. The honorees received their awards on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, at a brunch that followed the annual Red Mass for justices, judges, diplomats, lawyers and government officials.

The awards are given out 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 all volunteers with the Catholic Charities Legal Network. Through the generosity of volunteer attorneys, the Legal Network offers free legal assistance at several locations in the District of Columbia and suburban Maryland to more than 3,000 individuals each year, all of whom are below the poverty line. In addition, the network offers free legal education seminars to the community. Between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018, nearly 3,700 pro bono hours were donated by the Legal Network’s corps of over 750 attorney volunteers representing over 50 large and small law firms, as well as sole practices. These hours were self-reported as of July 2018, and the Legal Network expects additional hours to be reported in the coming weeks and months. The estimated value of these hours is over $2.1 million.

This year’s Pro Bono Legal Service Awards honorees:

  • Ari Q. Fitzgerald, Esq., a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Hogan Lovells US LLP, served as a member of the Catholic Charities Legal Network Advisory Council from 2011 to 2017. He helped the Legal Network expand its services into Prince George’s County, at the new Catholic Charities Susan D. Mona Center, opened in October 2017. In 2012, Mr. Fitzgerald initiated Hogan Lovells’ ongoing, weekly participation in telephone client intake for the Legal Network. He has served on the Legal Network’s Volunteer Reception Committee and actively recruited volunteer attorneys for the Legal Network and has also assisted the Legal Network in organizing well-attended training sessions on wills, probate and advance directives at Nativity Catholic Church in Washington. Mr. Fitzgerald is a member of Hogan Lovells’ communications practice group. After graduating from Harvard College and Yale Law School, he worked in several positions in government, including with the Federal Communications Commission and as a legal advisor in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel.
  • Gerard E. Mitchell, Esq. is a partner at Stein Mitchell Cipollone Beato & Missner LLP in Washington, D.C. Mr. Mitchell spent countless hours in the successful defense of a complex personal injury case in a matter referred to him by the Legal Network. He has supported the Legal Network in various ways, including involving colleagues in the Legal Network and taking on cases that other attorneys might not consider. His service to the Legal Network is an expression of a deeply held faith that has been manifest in both his professional and personal life. Mr. Mitchell graduated from Georgetown University and the University of Virginia School of Law. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and Washingtonian magazine has described him as “the area’s most effective medical malpractice attorney.”
  • Attorneys from Drinker, Biddle & Reath LLP have been generous supporters of the Legal Network. The attorneys have conducted in-person client intake for the Legal Network on a monthly basis for the past five years. Maureen Donahue Hardwick, partner in charge of the Washington, D.C., office, is an active volunteer who promotes pro bono work among the firm’s partners and associates. Thomas J. Kelly, also a partner at the firm, is a Legal Network Advisory Council member and successfully represented a pro bono client in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia this year. Drinker Biddle is a global law firm with over 600 attorneys in 12 offices, including about 100 lawyers in the Washington office.
  • Attorneys from Jones Day have been active contributors to the Legal Network. Fernand A. Lavallee, a partner at the law firm, has been a member of the Advisory Council since 2013. He assisted the Legal Network with its programmatic expansion to the new Catholic Charities Susan D. Mona Center in Prince George’s County. Mr. Lavallee and his colleague, associate Robin Overby, have worked with the Legal Network on an initiative to provide legal expertise and professional support to the homeless and others unable to locate their birth certificates, Social Security identification cards, and other vital documents. Mr. Lavallee and Ms. Overby also trained a team of volunteer attorneys to assist in this effort. This initiative has been a highlight among many other referrals that Jones Day attorneys have accepted pro bono from the Legal Network. Jones Day is a global law firm with over 2,500 attorneys in 43 offices, including about 250 lawyers in the Washington office.

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The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 655,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 93 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.