Ballard Spahr has honored lawyers and staff for significant pro bono service during the firm’s annual presentation of its Pro Bono Awards.

One of the firm’s successful asylum clients, HawaAbdallah Mohammed Salih, a recipient of the 2012 International Women of Courage Award, presented by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, spoke during the April 18 award ceremony. Ms. Salih is a native of Sudan who spent nine years in a displaced persons camp working with the United Nations and other agencies advocating for women and children on issues of rule of law and international human rights. Ms. Salih fled Sudan after she was arrested and tortured in 2011.

Ballard Spahr awards $1,000 to a charitable organization chosen by each honoree. These awards are in addition to the $25,000 Alan J. Davis Award given by the firm every summer in recognition of outstanding public service.

The firm’s 2012 honorees are:

Pennsylvania Voter Identification Project —When Pennsylvania enacted a law in early 2012 requiring voters to present limited types of photo identification at the polls, Ballard Spahr attorneys and staff launched several initiatives to help Pennsylvania voters in need of IDs. More than two dozen lawyers and paralegals volunteered at nonpartisan voter ID clinics run by voting rights groups. In response to theincreased demand for birth certificates needed to obtain voter IDs, the firm created a resource manual on the procedures for processing birth certificate applications, and helped legal services organizations process the flood of requests they received. The firm also assisted the SeniorLAW Center, whose clients were disproportionately affected, with research and analysis of the new law. Although the voter ID requirement was enjoined before the 2012 presidential election, confusion remained about its application. On Election Day, at least 40 Ballard Spahr lawyers and paralegals worked at the polls with representatives of voting rights groups to ensure that eligible voters were allowed to cast ballots.

TOPA Representation Team — Mitzie V. Smith-Mack, Sharon Wilson Géno, and Nydia M. Pouyes led a team of attorneys representing tenants under the District of Columbia's Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA).The team has worked on multiple cases involving the Act, which seeks to stem the displacement of low-income tenants in the District by creating an opportunity for them to improve their living conditions or become homeowners through negotiation with developers. As a result of this work, Ballard Spahr was named the 2012 Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year by the DC Bar Association.

Denver Office — Ballard Spahr’s Denver office excelled in its pro bono work in the last year. It was recognized by the Colorado Supreme Court for accepting and meeting the court's Pro Bono Commitment standards, in addition to meeting the firm's target of dedicating 3 percent of annual billable hours to pro bono work. Attorneys from this office engaged in a variety of pro bono work―participating in Project Homeless Connect, litigating a civil rights matter, working full time as an unpaid extern with the Denver City Attorney, representing a housekeeper whose boss tried to have her deported when she complained she had not been paid, and representing Village Care International, a nonprofit group that empowers Africans in 11 countries and more than 1,000 villages to become self-sufficient.

P. Christian Anderson — Since joining the firm in 1996, Mr. Anderson, a partner in the Salt Lake City office, has logged nearly 2,000 pro bono hours. He has handled dozens of matters, including service to small business incubators such as the Utah Microenterprise Fund and Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative, and advising arts-related organizations, including the Spring City Arts and Central Utah Arts Center. He is being honored for his long-term commitment to pro bono service and for regularly mentoring and supervising young lawyers in their pro bono matters.

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