William E. Morris Pro Bono Service Award

Awarded to recognize extraordinary contributions by an Arizona Attorney in making legal services available to persons who otherwise could not afford them, and thereby to focus public awareness on the substantial voluntary services by Arizona attorneys in this area. Renamed in 2000 to honor the memory of William E. Morris, a long-time attorney for the poor in Arizona.

Nominations are due March 1st and are to include the individual's name; firm if applicable; address & other contact information; the award for which they are being nominated and contact information of the nominators; a summary of their characteristics, experiences, and service that qualifies them for the award; and support letters from others may be included. The nomination packets should be sent to The Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education, ATTN: Kevin S. Ruegg, 4201 N. 24th Street, Suite 210, Phoenix, AZ 85016 or fax to 602-271-4930.

Awards Acknowledged in conjunction with the Foundation participation in the annual Arizona State Bar Convention.

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2017 Awardee

Lee Bennett

Lee Bennett has volunteered for Community Legal Services Volunteer Lawyer Program for the last 6 years. In that time he has served at least 385 families, spent half a day each week at the VLP office interviewing and advising people, and provided additional assistance outside of the initial clinic to do further investigation to help advocate for the client.  He provided extensive representation to 5 clients with complex civil legal problems.  Lee provides efficient and effective interviews and case summaries enabling VLP to better determine if full representation is needed or to help aid another potential volunteer attorney in taking the case.

In one case, Mr. Bennett worked with a woman who was disable by a rare blood disease.  Lee helped for 18 months and obtained an economic benefit of $202,553 for the client on a homeownership issue.

The justice community thanks Lee for the quantity and quality of his pro bono service and his outstanding commitment to helping clients. 

 

2016 Awardee

Denice ShepherdDenice Shepherd

Denice's practice does not lend itself to high profile cases.  You will not read about her in the newspaper or see her on televison.  But she has quietly built a career helping those most in need.  Denice joined the Southern Arizona Legal Aid Volunteer Lawyer Program in 1996.  Over the course of the last twenty years Denice has assisted children and families with minor guardianships, wills, powers of attorney, healthcare powers of attorney and small probate matters.

In addition to providing direct representation to clients, Denice frequently participates in the VLP's Minor Guardianship Clinic where she supervises law students as they meet with unrepresented clients at their guardianship hearings in Probate Court. 

Denice's volunteer work goes beyond the VLP to working on the Reid Park Zoological Society Board and being active in Arizona Women's Lawyer Association.

 

2015 Awardee

Ernest Skip SkinnerSkip Skinner

Skip has been volunteering for the Southern Arizona Legal Aid's Volunteer Lawyers Program since 2005. He volunteers at their Advice Only clinic, assists with Minor Guardianship clinics as well as accepting cases for direct representation.

Skip is a frequent participant in the VLP's Minor Guardianship Project in Probate Court where he supervises law students as they meet with unrepresented clients. In 2014, Skip led 55 VLP Clinics, donated 174 hours of his time and mentored many law students. Almost 2,000 clients have benefitted from his legal expertise and 4,875 children received help through his willingness to help.


A client walking out from an Advice Only clinic with Skip was overheard saying in a broken Eastern European accent, "You are like God. I came here with a problem and now it is gone." Thank you to Skip for his continual heroic legal service.

 

2014

Kathrine McLeodKathrine McLeod
Mrs. McLeod is the mother of 7 and grandmother of 16. She began her first career as a real estate broker in Michigan. After raising her children, she obtained her Michigan law license in 1991 and moved to Arizona. She obtained her Arizona Real Estate Broker′s license and Arizona Bar license and began working with her daughter in a small civil and criminal practice. About eight years ago, she began working as a volunteer lawyer with the VLP where she worked on several successful landlord cases. One case a landlord insisted that a young man brought bedbugs to the apartment and took his prepaid rent for bedbug expenses and attempted to evict him for non-payment of rent. Kate worked tirelessly for this young student and reached an amicable resolution. Kate has selflessly looked out for and protected those incapable of protecting themselves. She is someone who has recognized the truly important values amongst humanity, those of respect, dignity and equality. That is what she stands for and that is what she fights for.

 

2013

Stanley Friedman

2012

Rob Ferrier

2011

Ben Smith

2010

David Sanderson

2009

Dean Christoffel

2008

Debra Hill

2007

Cary Inabinet

2006
Tom Roberts

2005
Scott Gan

2004
David Engelman

2003
Pamela Liberty

2002
Alyce Pennington

2001
Luis Ochoa

2000
Steven Cox

1999
Wayne Yehling

1998
Michael McGrath

1997
Christina Urias

1996
Philip (Jay) McCarthy, Jr.

1995
Michael J. Tucker

1994
Dianne C. Kerns (Sole Practitioner) Robert E. Mites

1993
Hon. Robert W. Pickrell (Sole Practitioner) Thomas M. Lyon

1992
Rev. David A. Meyers

1991
Lawrence A. Hammond

1990
Nancy M. Coomer

1989
John A. Greene

1988
William T. Birmingham

1987
Ted F. Warner