Pro Bono

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News Highlights

Each year the firm recognizes extraordinary pro bono legal services and work in the community by our lawyers and our staff. Each year, at least three deserving individuals are selected to receive one of the firm’s Pro Bono Awards. The awards include:

Philip H. Alston, Jr. Award  – The Alston Award was given to Phil Sandick for his stellar pro bono practice including arguing a habeas petition for an immigrant detained for 5 years pending his asylum application, counsel appointment on a federal civil rights case involving the right to religious services and law library access, and the successful representation of an Atlanta Legal Aid homeowner who was led into signing a contract-for-deed instead of a mortgage. This past year, Phil has also orchestrated a training program at a local Boys and Girls Club, hosted CLE programs with US Magistrate Judge Catherine Salinas, and administered a state-wide website that provides access to justice for low-income individuals across Georgia.

F.M. Bird Award – Nate Johnson was given the F.M. Bird Award for his pro bono commitment to the Alexandria Hotel, a residential hotel serving low-income residents in downtown Los Angeles. After uncovering severe disability and habitability violations, Nate led the charge to alert building ownership and implement changes. In addition to his work with the Alexandria Hotel, Nate also secured a victory for Mr. Lee, a formerly homeless Air Force veteran. Mr. Lee was forced to live in his car for nearly fifteen years and accumulated roughly forty traffic violations. Due to his inability to pay, the fines grew to nearly $60,000. Nate was able to consolidate all of Mr. Lee’s tickets for one motion to vacate, which the traffic court granted in exchange for 30 hours of community service.

Kenneth F. Britt Award – Karen Hinson received the Kenneth F. Britt Award for her coordination of a Pro Bono Week program highlighting the work of Calvary Women’s Services, a transitional housing program. As a result of the program, attendees expressed interest in doing more to assist the organization. Karen set up a registry on Amazon to furnish an apartment for two women, complete with all of the essential items they will need for a fresh start in their new apartment. Karen’s dedication to Calvary Women’s Services has been inspiring and in January, A&B volunteers helped to set up the apartment in preparation for its new occupants.


The Pro Bono Team Award (2 winners) – The Able Gamers Team, consisting of Tom Davison, Madison McCraw, Brian Hill, Evan Woolley and Scott Pivnick, received the Team Impact Award for their work on an invention of a gaming system for disabled individuals. Evan Woolley and Tom Davison are the co-inventors, Madison McCraw and Brian Hill worked with the prosecution and Scott Pivnick was the original partner sponsor of the project. Able Gamers exists to ensure that all individuals can have a gaming experience, regardless of their disabilities.

The Abdi Asylum Team, consisting of Michael Lee, Matt Durfee, Heather Barger, Anna Chong, Lisa N. Wilson and Chelsea Smith received the Team Impact Award for their successful representation of Mr. Abdi, an Ethiopian national who was unjustly detained and tortured in his home country based on his political beliefs. Mr. Abdi sought asylum in the U.S. in 2012, and his case was finally heard in January 2018 after numerous continuations by the Court. The Alston & Bird team submitted extensive briefing and evidence and procured the expert witnesses to corroborate Mr. Abdi’s testimony. Immediately after closing statements, the Court decisively granted asylum, and the government waived appeal.

Awards and Recognition

At Alston & Bird we don’t engage in pro bono work for the recognition, but we are proud when we are recognized for the work we do that makes a difference in our community and in the lives of those in need.

  • Alston & Bird was recognized as by Fortune Magazine as a Best Workplace for Giving Back.
  • Honored by the Legal Services Corporation as the Law Firm Award winner for the firm’s commitment to pro bono legal services in Georgia.
  • Co-recipient of the Corporate Volunteer Council of Atlanta’s IMPACT Award.
  • Celebrated by Public Counsel of Los Angeles for support tremendous support of a legal team working to address systemic consumer fraud challenges in vulnerable populations. Because of the firm’s work a clinic is being established in a south Los Angeles neighborhood.
  • Winner of the 2013 Pro Bono Institute’s John H. Pickering Award recognizing the firm for its dedication and unwavering commitment to pro bono.
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