WHITE PLAINS - Legal Services of the Hudson Valley (LSHV) held its 7th Annual Equal Access to Justice Dinner at the Westchester Marriott, in Tarrytown, on April 24, 2013. Attended by 350 individuals, including donors, attorneys and community partners supportive of the organization’s work, the event was the most successful in its history, raising $169,750 to support its mission.
This event focuses attention on the essential need for equal access to justice in our Mid-Hudson Valley communities and our society. All three concepts are critical. Justice, because when Americans encounter the legal system, as we all do at various times in our lives, we have a right to fair treatment rather than arbitrariness and bias. Access, because there can be no justice without the ability to work with the institutions and processes that carry out the rule of law. Equal, because that access must be available to all; otherwise, the rule of law is illusory. As the event Co-Chairs, Alfred E. Donnellan and Richard G. Menaker, explained "Nothing is more basic to being an American than having equal access to justice. Since 1967, Legal Services of the Hudson Valley has advanced this cause. Its professionals – the staff attorneys, paralegals, support personnel, and legions of pro bono attorneys – handle thousands of cases each year. They lend their experience and expertise to assure that our neighbors are not denied access to the rule of law just because they have limited resources."
Thomas R. Lalla, Jr., Esq. and Proskauer Rose LLP were honored at this year’s event for their long-standing commitment to that principle. In her introduction, Barbara Finkelstein, LSHV Executive Director, said "Both Tom and Proskauer Rose have brought energy, imagination and dedication to helping improve the lives of those in need in Westchester County. We honor them for their philanthropic work, vision, and contributions to ensuring that those in need in Westchester County receive assistance." Renee Hernandez, a veteran of the War in Iraq and mother of a three-year old boy, and Linda Buchanan, a retired private business owner for thirty five years, inspired attendees with their stories of how the services provided by LSHV attorneys made a positive difference at critical times in their lives.
Thomas R. Lalla, Jr., Esq. is the Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Pernod Ricard USA. He is also on the Board of Visitors of the Pace University School of Law. Mr. Lalla has achieved outstanding accomplishments in the legal community and worked tirelessly on behalf of nonprofit organizations. He has consistently brought his strength, knowledge and commitment to help improve the lives of those in our communities who are most vulnerable and in need. Legal Services of the Hudson Valley recognizes him for his generosity and work toward ensuring that the right to equal justice under the law is available to all regardless of income.
While Proskauer Rose is well known for its work in labor and employment law, its pro bono work is legendary. The beneficiaries of its efforts include Iraqi and other refugees seeking asylum, domestic violence victims, artists and musicians, Holocaust survivors, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, among many others. Attorneys at Proskauer typically spend 35,000 - 40,000 hours per year working on pro bono matters. In 2010, Proskauer received the Law Firm Pro Bono Award at the William O. Douglas Award Dinner in Los Angeles, sponsored by Public Counsel, the United States’ largest pro bono public interest law firm. The firm’s commitment to access to justice for all is a model for all private attorneys.
Proceeds from the event benefit LSHV’s programs, which reach over 10,000 individuals - senior citizens, children and adults with disabilities, survivors of domestic violence, low-wage workers, persons living with HIV/AIDS, cancer patients, and families in danger of losing their homes - each year. The funds that are raised are crucial to enabling LSHV to provide civil legal aid services during challenging times for the vulnerable low-income, and recently unemployed, families and individuals it represents.