The Washington, D.C., office of Ballard Spahr has been named 2012 Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year by the District of Columbia Bar. The award recognizes outstanding pro bono work and services provided to the poor and disadvantaged in the District. The presentation was made yesterday at the Celebration of Leadership: The D.C. Bar’s Awards Dinner and Annual Meeting.

In 2011, the lawyers in Ballard Spahr’s D.C. office devoted one-third of their pro bono efforts, nearly 600 hours, to representing tenant groups asserting their purchase rights under the district’s Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA). Under TOPA, tenants must be given the opportunity to purchase a rental property before an owner sells it. Ballard Spahr attorneys assisted tenant groups in assigning their rights to interested developers. They also assisted a tenant group in converting its rental property into a cooperative, creating an opportunity for low-income tenants to improve their living conditions and become homeowners.

 “For many years, our lawyers have volunteered their experience to assist low-income clients and the agencies that serve them. Their efforts have improved the system, developed housing and educational opportunities, and changed lives for the better,” said Joseph Fanone, Managing Partner of Ballard Spahr’s D.C. office. “I am proud of their efforts, particularly given the oft-held perception that transactional lawyers do not engage in pro bono work.”

 The lawyers in Ballard Spahr’s D.C. office also contributed a significant number of pro bono hours to matters involving housing, homelessness, and education in the district. They assisted Habitat for Humanity of Washington in revising its bylaws, and served as pro bono counsel for Bright Beginnings, an educational program for homeless children.

Ballard Spahr has a longstanding commitment to provide pro bono legal services to individuals and organizations in need. As a signatory, the firm has annually made and met a commitment to donate at least 3% of billable hours to pro bono service. It consistently ranks among the top 100 law firms in the Am Law Pro Bono Report, and has received numerous awards and honors in recognition of outstanding commitment to pro bono work.

In 1978, nearly a century after its founding in Philadelphia, Ballard Spahr began its expansion with the opening of its office in Washington, D.C. Today, the Washington office is one of the firm's largest and is a recognized leader in energy and project finance, housing, public finance and public-private partnerships, real estate and real estate finance, mortgage banking, and tax.

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