Local Legal Professionals Honored for Volunteer Service

Sunday, October 5, 2014

WASHINGTON – 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 from the Washington region. The awards were given on Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014, 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. Each year the Legal Network offers free legal assistance to nearly 3,000 individuals, all of whom are below the poverty line. Through the generosity of volunteer attorneys, legal assistance is offered at several locations in the District of Columbia and suburban Maryland. In addition, the network offers free legal education seminars to the community. Between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014, more than 5,000 pro bono hours were donated by the Legal Network’s corps of over 625 attorney volunteers representing over 60 large and small law firms as well as sole practices. These hours were self-reported as of July 2014, and the Legal Network expects additional hours to be reported in the coming weeks and months. Attorneys also self-reported the estimated value of these hours to be at least $1.8 million.

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

  • Before recently relocating to Tampa, Florida native Jacqueline Acosta, Esq., conducted in-person client intake for Spanish-speaking clients of the Catholic Charities Legal Network for four years. Her combination of sharp legal skills and Spanish fluency assisted clients early in the process of finding volunteer attorneys to take their cases. Additionally, she accepted a number of pro bono clients from the Legal Network for legal representation by her firm, assisting them with immigration issues, landlord-tenant problems and family law matters.
  • During his second year as a law student, Matthew Sheptuck secured an internship with the Catholic Charities Legal Network. He assisted volunteer attorneys and Legal Network staff with client intake and placement of cases. He also performed legal research, drafted memoranda on employment law and interacted with clients on behalf of a volunteer attorney. Since graduating from Georgetown University Law Center in 2013, Sheptuck has continued to volunteer with the Legal Network up to three days per week, first as part of a post-graduate fellowship with Georgetown University Law Center and then independently in addition to his regular employment. He commutes to the Legal Network from his home in Inwood, W.Va.
  • Attorneys at Miller & Chevalier Chartered have assisted the Catholic Charities Legal Network for over a year. The firm conducts telephone intake for the Legal Network on a biweekly basis. In this role, volunteer lawyers from the firm handle initial callers to the Legal Network and counsel people seeking help with a wide variety of legal needs. Additionally, the Miller & Chevalier Charitable Foundation awarded a grant to the Legal Network in 2013-14, which resulted in new computers for three staff members and helped the Legal Network to address its day-to-day operations more effectively and efficiently. Miller & Chevalier’s Pro Bono Counsel, Kathleen T. “Kitty” Wach, Esq., coordinates and supports the pro bono work of the lawyers in the firm and serves as a contact point for the legal services community. As part of this service, she shepherded Miller & Chevalier’s acceptance of a pro bono family-law case from the Catholic Charities Legal Network. She currently serves as a member of the Catholic Charities Legal Network Advisory Council.
  • Attorneys at O’Melveny & Myers LLP have been assisting the Catholic Charities Legal Network for more than two years. The firm, which has dedicated itself to improving access to justice through pro bono work, staffs the Legal Network’s in-person intake services every Friday. The firm draws from O’Melveny & Myers attorneys, who consistently provide reliable and efficient assistance to the Legal Network, and coordinates with attorneys from other law firms as well. Every other Monday, the firm supplements its in-person volunteer work by providing telephone intake services. Spearheading the firm’s service to the Legal Network is Hugh E. Hilliard, Esq. Hilliard also serves on the Catholic Charities Legal Network Advisory Council.

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 95 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

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