Baker & McKenzie will receive the Child Advocacy Award in recognition of pro bono work performed with Lawyers for Children America (LFCA). LFCA will present the award during its annual John Edward Smith Child Advocacy Awards Luncheon on April 30, 2004 at the Hotel InterContinental Miami.
The award recognizes Baker & McKenzie’s contribution of legal services to aid foster children facing committal to residential mental healthcare facilities without the benefit of legal counsel. The Firm successfully litigated cases for children resulting in the granting of their right of legal representation at committal hearings. In addition to legal work, Baker & McKenzie hosted a training program and provided charitable contributions to assist LFCA with quality legal representation for abused and neglected children.
“Baker & McKenzie’s commitment and dedication not only exemplifies John Edward Smith’s life’s mission, but also clearly illustrates the principles and driving goals of Lawyers for Children America, which is to reduce the devastating trauma of abuse and neglect on children in the child welfare system,” said Melissa S. Buckner, Miami Regional Director for LFCA.
“We have an amazing team of committed attorneys who have spent many hours devoting their knowledge and expertise to helping children that otherwise would have no legal representation in Florida’s courts,” said Eugene Rostov, Managing Partner of the Baker & McKenzie’s Miami office and head of its international practice group. “We are honored to have been able to help these children in need.”
“For the first time, these kids had a lawyer, a voice which is quite empowering for a child who can easily be lost in such a gigantic governmental system,” said Donald J. Hayden, head of the litigation practice group, who worked on hearings for foster children. “For us, it has been amazing to be dealing with a child in a tough situation and to really get down to the problem, find the best solution for that child and fight for it in court.”
Leading the pro bono work for Baker & McKenzie, along with Hayden, were Jonas C. Packer and Ana C. Ramirez, associates with the litigation and international practice groups, respectively.
Just last year, Baker & McKenzie hired its first full-time Director of Pro Bono and Public Service for North America, Angela C. Vigil, to further develop its pro bono practice. Vigil coordinates pro bono opportunities for attorneys and staff in each of the Firm’s 11 offices throughout the United States and Canada. She also works to advance the Firm’s award-winning Partners to Serve program and to coordinate charitable giving, community service and fellowships.