Ballard Spahr’s 2011 Alan J. Davis Award will be presented today to the Ballard Spahr Asylum Initiative, a team of lawyers and staff at the firm that works tirelessly on behalf of people seeking asylum in the United States, firm Chair Arthur Makadon announced.

The team, more than 30 lawyers and staff members, has donated approximately 4,000 hours of pro bono service to victims of political persecution and violence, including, among others, a BBC contributor who fled Iran after she was detained by authorities for her reporting.

Ballard Spahr is steadfast in its commitment to providing pro bono legal services to the poor, the powerless, and those who are wrongfully persecuted. The Alan J. Davis Award is named for the late City Solicitor and distinguished Ballard Spahr litigator whose dedication to public service was equally strong. The award, which carries a $25,000 prize, will be presented today by Mr. Makadon.

“I have read the stories of the people we have helped in these asylum cases and I am impressed both by their personal courage and by the tenacity and skill of our lawyers in representing them,” said Mr. Makadon.

In the past year alone, the Initiative gained asylum for:

  • A female Iranian journalist and BBC contributor who fled her country after she was repeatedly detained and questioned about her reporting on the 2009 presidential election: Brian P. Maloney (Baltimore), Daniel R. Simon (D.C.), and Melissa A. Bright (Bethesda)
  • A woman from Guinea who was subjected to female genital mutilation and was persecuted for speaking out about the procedure after watching it kill her daughter: Susanna R. Greenberg, Emily M. Heersink, and Jason A. Leckerman (Philadelphia)
  • A Rwandan man who, at age 8, witnessed the murder of his father and grandparents during the Rwandan genocide: Jack N. Semrani and Dianne S. Pickersgill (D.C.)
  • A Pakistani woman who fled physical and mental abuse by her husband and in-laws during her arranged marriage: Erin E. Kepplinger and Jason A. Leckerman (Philadelphia)

This year’s Alan J. Davis Award cash prize will be donated to Human Rights First and to HIAS and Council Migration Service of Philadelphia.

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