Legal Aid Society


LAS Announces 2021 Pro Bono Publico Award Honorees

The Legal Aid Society announced its 2021 Pro Bono Publico Award Honorees today with international law firm Milbank LLP notching the Honorable Jonathan Lippman Public Service Law Firm Award. Jennifer Cowan, Pro Bono Counsel at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is recognized with the 2021 Public Interest Law Leadership Award, as reported by the New York Law Journal.

Each year nearly 3,000 volunteers from the private bar, corporate legal departments, and law schools generously partner with the staff of The Legal Aid Society on behalf of vulnerable New Yorkers. Of those volunteers, just 300 are nominated by Legal Aid staff for special recognition with a Pro Bono Publico award.

Among the over 50 firms that supported The Legal Aid Society’s clients and communities in the past year, no firm has made more of an impact than Milbank LLP. Advocating on behalf of young immigrants, homeless students, and people experiencing the scourge of unlawful police behavior, the attorneys at Milbank achieved outstanding results that improved the circumstances of Legal Aid clients and thousands of New Yorkers in every borough.

Jennifer Cowan, Pro Bono Counsel at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, heads up the cadre of individual honorees. Jennifer has been awarded the 2021 Public Interest Law Leadership Award for her outstanding achievements overseeing her firm’s renowned pro bono program which annually contributes 4,000 hours of free legal assistance to clients of The Legal Aid Society.

“This critical work delivering systemic change for our clients could not happen without partners like Milbank LLP and others,” said Janet Sabel, CEO and Attorney-In-Chief of The Legal Aid Society. “From securing broadband for justice WiFi for students who reside in local shelters to ensuring that incarcerated New Yorkers have access to medical care, Milbank’s efforts have helped make New York a more fair and just city. The Legal Aid Society congratulates this year’s honorees for their tireless advocacy on behalf of our clients.”

“Time and again the exceptional staff of Milbank LLP responded to the call to protect the rights of underserved communities of color and worked side by side with Legal Aid staff in removing obstacles to equal justice,” said Louis S. Sartori, Director of the Pro Bono Practice at The Legal Aid Society.

“It is an honor to be recognized as a recipient of the Legal Aid Society’s Pro Bono Publico award,” said Milbank Chairman Scott A. Edelman. “The Legal Aid Society’s mission is critically important to New Yorkers in need, and Milbank has been gratified to serve as a partner in advancing that mission. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our attorneys’ collaborative efforts with the organization were instrumental in securing the installation of wireless internet in the city’s shelters so that children could participate in remote school, and in ensuring that those incarcerated in our city’s jails have access to basic human needs such as medical care. We look forward to continuing this vital work with The Legal Aid Society.”

“Providing a broad spectrum of pro bono legal services is built into the Debevoise DNA; it is an essential part of who we are,” said John Gleeson, litigation partner at Debevoise LLP, former U.S. District Judge, and co-chair of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee. “We have been grateful to work with The Legal Aid Society in our shared mission to advocate for equal justice on behalf of marginalized individuals and groups. We congratulate Jen on this award and thank her for her tremendous leadership and abilities. Thanks to Jen, Debevoise has provided life-altering pro bono legal assistance to innumerable individual clients and their families, and more broadly has effected important societal change as well.”