Gibbons receives national honor for pro bono work

Newark firm has been awarded 2021 John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award

Gibbons P.C. has been awarded a 2021 John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award in recognition of the firm’s extensive pro bono work.

The award, given by the litigation section of the American Bar Association, recognizes firms nationwide that “have made outstanding contributions to the quality of justice in their communities, ensuring that the legal system is open and available to all.”

The award will be presented May 7, during the 2021 Virtual Litigation Section Annual Conference.

Gibbons Chairman and Managing Director Patrick Dunican said the honor matches the mission of the firm.

“The outstanding quality of the service Gibbons attorneys provide to clients is matched by the exceptional dedication of those same attorneys to working in the public interest and giving back to their communities,” he said.

“Among the award’s main criteria is ‘commitment to disadvantaged, disenfranchised or other underrepresented individuals or groups,’ which Gibbons attorneys have displayed with remarkable skill and heart dating back to the firm’s earliest days.”

The firm’s qualifications for the award may be best summarized by the letters of support submitted on behalf of Gibbons to the awards committee.

Cathy Keenan, executive director of Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, wrote:

Gibbons contributes significantly to the needs of the most vulnerable in our community, particularly veterans, families with special-needs children and those in criminal reentry. Gibbons attorneys donate their time and expertise at limited scope legal clinics where they counsel veterans on how resolve outstanding suspensions and restore their driving privileges, leading to gainful employment, family reunification and productive citizenship. Additionally, Gibbons launched a monthly expungement clinic with VLJ in 2015 for volunteers to evaluate criminal backgrounds for expungement record clearing and represent pro bono clients deemed eligible for this life-changing relief.

A more recently forged pro bono relationship, led by the Gibbons Diversity Initiative, is the firm’s partnership with the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership — as part of its “Small Businesses Need Us” program.

IFEL assists women and minority small business owners impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Jill Johnson, CEO of IFEL, stated in her recommendation in support of the firm’s nomination:

In 2020, Gibbons P.C. dedicated 624 hours of focused, impactful legal pro bono work at a value of over $249,000 in support of the Small Businesses Need Us program … Gibbons P.C. has helped a diverse cross-section of high-potential IFEL entrepreneurs to solve difficult problems and, in the process, to survive and move closer to thriving going forward.

Gibbons supports two highly regarded, active pro bono programs — the John J. Gibbons Fellowship in Public Interest and Constitutional Law, and the Gibbons Cares pro bono platform.

The renowned Gibbons Fellowship can tackle a huge range of important issues, including issues of national and statewide magnitude, and provide the resources and continuity of personnel to pursue projects to conclusion, fully funding the employment of two Gibbons Fellows serving overlapping, two-year terms.

Meanwhile, the firm’s traditional pro bono program focuses in a few key areas of need in the firm’s local communities, including expungement and reentry, domestic violence, asylum, trafficking, veterans’ issues, tenants’ rights and special education.