A team of lawyers and professionals who provide free wills and estate planning to firefighters and other first responders nationwide will be honored with the Alan J. Davis Award this year.

The award, and the $25,000 prize it carries, will be presented July 1 at the Philadelphia office of Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP by firm Chair Arthur Makadon. The award was established last year in honor of Alan J. Davis, the former city solicitor and an esteemed litigator at Ballard Spahr. Mr. Davis, for whom the city law library is named, died suddenly in 2007. His widow, Lyn Davis, will be on hand for the award presentation.

The award honors an individual or group at the firm for exemplary legal representation in a matter involving the public good. The prize money is donated by the firm to an organization of the winner's choosing – in this case, the Wills for Heroes Foundation. Accepting the award on behalf of the team will be Dan McKenna, a litigation attorney who brought the program to the attention of the firm in 2007. Since then, more than 1,900 wills have been produced for first responders, and more than 100 Ballard Spahr employees have participated.

"Men and women who put their lives at risk every day, as emergency workers do, should have a sound financial plan in place, but so many of our first responders do not take the time to go through the process," Mr. Makadon said. "Our attorneys, through Wills for Heroes, make it easy for these men and women and their families to get all their documentation in order and, in doing so, to have some peace of mind. It is a privilege for our lawyers and staff to be involved."

Wills for Heroes, Ballard Spahr's firmwide public service project, was created in the wake of September 11, when it was discovered that many of the first responders who died did not have wills. The program is coordinated nationally by the Wills for Heroes Foundation and implemented through state and local bar associations.

Ballard Spahr will sponsor Wills for Heroes programs on June 26, 2009, at the FOP Lodge at 1336 Spring Garden Street, and June 27, 2009, at the Philadelphia Police Academy, 8501 State Road. Both events are fully booked, with more than 65 first responders confirmed for each day. The June 26 event is a partnership between Ballard Spahr and Exelon.

"What I do could never be as vital as running into a burning building to save someone's life," said Mr. McKenna, who was honored by the American Bar Association and the Pennsylvania Bar Association for his work with Wills for Heroes. "But if I can help give that hero a little peace of mind, you can bet I will."

Related Area