The D.C. Bar has named Zuckerman Spaeder this year's winner of the Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year Award for large law firms.
Zuckerman, a litigation boutique with about 50 lawyers in its Washington office, was recognized for its "outstanding pro bono work and many hours of service" to low-income clients. According to a release from the firm, Zuckerman increased its pro bono hours by more than 60% last year.
One example of the firm’s work last year was a case in which Zuckerman’s client was charged with capital murder in Maryland. Eleanor Smith, chair of Zuckerman’s pro bono practice, said the firm was able to negotiate with prosecutors to drop the capital charge in favor of a lesser charge. “In doing so, we were able to ensure that he will be able to get out of prison while he is still relatively young,” Smith said.
The firm also aided a Rwandan genocide survivor in securing political asylum after he was tortured by Rwandan government agents for testifying against those accused of murdering his family. Smith said that client is now enrolled at a university in the District of Columbia. “It’s really a great success all the way around,” Smith said.
A long-time supporter of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, Zuckerman helped to establish a pro bono program in the bankruptcy court in 2006 and continues to provide pro bono representation to individuals in bankruptcy matters. The firm also advises legal service providers, including the Public Defender Service of the District of Columbia, on legal ethics issues.
“The range of our pro bono work reflects the varied interests of our lawyers,” Smith said.