Through a fundraising reception that evening, the bar's pro bono program had brought in a record $650,000, almost one-third of its annual budget. Outgoing D.C. Bar President Melvin White, a partner at McDermott, Will & Emery, said the donations showed the bar’s commitment to pro bono work in the District. “As I turn over the reins, I have to say that being the president of the D.C. Bar is a chance to use the bully pulpit of the office to help the poor of our district,” White says. “We’ve seen the strong impact [pro bono work] has had on our city. It’s a mark of the tremendous service the D.C. Bar has provided.”
Former D.C. Attorney General Robert Spagnoletti, who was sworn in as the bar’s new president, told the 400 people in the audience that the bar would remain committed to pro bono work over the next year.
Although the actual business of the meeting consisted solely of approving last year’s minutes and financial report, the main event was honoring lawyers. John Payton, director-counsel of NAACP Legal Defense Fund, received the Thurgood Marshall Award, which recognizes commitment to civil rights and liberties. David Cleveland, a lawyer at Catholic Charities, and Seth Galanter, of counsel at Morrison & Foerster, were named pro bono lawyers of the year. Dickstein Shapiro was given the pro bono law firm award.