Elizabeth Buckel, senior associate in Alston & Bird’s Litigation & Trial Practice Group, has been honored by Sanctuary for Families with a 2018 “Above & Beyond Pro Bono Achievement” Award.
The annual award, now in its 16th year, recognizes members of the legal community who have gone “above and beyond” by providing outstanding pro bono representation and advocacy to victims of domestic violence, sex trafficking, and related forms of gender violence.
Buckel was honored for her compassionate and persistent advocacy on behalf of a domestic violence survivor. Following years of extreme physical and verbal abuse by the woman’s boyfriend, Buckel sought a five-year civil order of protection for her client in Staten Island Family Court in New York. The case ultimately went to trial, which painstakingly inched forward in 10-to-15-minute increments over the next two years. These delays took a toll on her client’s emotional and physical well-being, as the client struggled with understandable anger and anxiety as she processed the trauma of her years of abuse, making each court appearance and the days leading up to it incredibly difficult. Buckel fought hard to end the constant trial delays and resolutely pursued a settlement but to no avail. After opposing counsel withdrew from the case, new counsel moved for a mistrial, which the court messaged to the parties it was inclined to grant. Faced with the difficult choice of reliving this painful process or withdrawing from the case, Buckel’s client chose not to proceed based on the trusted advice she received from Buckel, with whom she had developed a close and tireless relationship and whom she relied on to make well-informed, difficult decisions regarding her case.
“Sometimes a victory isn’t just about a win in court, it is about supporting your client and giving them the tools and encouragement they need to make the decision that is best for them,” noted Sanctuary for Families in making the award. “Liz’s exemplary legal work coupled with her commitment to her client was really the gold standard in pro bono representation.”
Sanctuary for Families is New York's leading service provider and advocate for survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking, and related forms of gender violence.