Blank Rome's Founding Partner Edwin P. Rome served as counsel for Aaron “Treetop” Turner, a client on Pennsylvania’s Death Row, representing him for more than 11 years and through five separate trials and appeals, until Mr. Turner was exonerated and freed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
In the concurring opinion to the decision that freed Mr. Turner following the fifth trial, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Musmanno wrote, “I cannot help but express a renewed and continuing admiration for lawyers” who carry on despite seeming failure “in the search for the priceless jewel of truth.”
The Edwin P. Rome Pro Bono Achievement Award was created in 2004 to recognize outstanding performance and a demonstrated commitment to pro bono legal service each year.
2020 – Bridget Mayer Briggs
Commercial Litigation Partner Bridget Mayer Briggs was presented with the 2020 Edwin P. Rome Pro Bono Achievement Award in recognition of her personal commitment to, and leadership in, pro bono work on behalf of people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, children in foster care, and the wrongfully convicted. An active and important member of the firm’s Philadelphia Pro Bono Coordinating Committee, Bridget has been an extremely dedicated and diligent pro bono volunteer and leader throughout her career at Blank Rome. She is a member of the board of directors of the Homeless Advocacy Project, where she has successfully represented clients with severe mental health issues in appealing denials of social security disability benefits. She also volunteers as a guardian ad litem to represent abused and neglected children through the Support Center for Child Advocates. Notably, Bridget was a part of a Blank Rome team that secured a criminal record expungement on behalf of Vincent Moto, a Philadelphia man who spent more than 10 years in prison for a crime that he did not commit, and who was the first person in Pennsylvania to ever be exonerated on the basis of after-acquired DNA evidence.
2019 – Adam V. Orlacchio
Corporate Litigation Partner Adam V. Orlacchio was presented with the 2019 Edwin P. Rome Pro Bono Achievement Award in recognition of his personal commitment to, and leadership in, performing pro bono litigation on behalf of indigent tenants in numerous landlord-tenant cases in Philadelphia and Wilmington over the past decade. An active and important member of Blank Rome’s Wilmington Pro Bono Coordinating Committee, Adam has been a strong supporter of the Firm’s pro bono program and has uniformly achieved outstanding results for his many pro bono clients. Furthermore, Adam has mentored many young associates at Blank Rome and elsewhere, and has fostered their interest in performing pro bono landlord-tenant matters. He has taught many CLE training sessions over the years, and he serves as a supervisor on many of the Firm’s landlord-tenant matters. Adam's leadership in this area is especially important at this time, as tenants all across the country face an onslaught of these sorts of landlord-tenant cases, due to the financial devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Adam is also participating in the Firm’s newly formed Housing/Eviction Protection Pro Bono Working Group, to address the impact of racism in our society.
2018 – John E. Heintz
Insurance Recovery Partner John E. Heintz was presented with the 2018 Edwin P. Rome Pro Bono Achievement Award in recognition of his lifelong commitment to pro bono service and his many achievements on behalf of his pro bono clients. John serves as a member of Blank Rome's Firm-wide Pro Bono Committee and our Washington, D.C. Pro Bono Coordinating Committee. He has also served on the board of directors of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs as well as the Legal Aid Society of D.C. Throughout his career, John has handled large, impactful pro bono litigation involving issues of discrimination and unfair practices in both housing and insurance industries. In recent years, he has been a champion of Blank Rome's Housing Right to Counsel pro bono project with the Legal Aid Society, where our attorneys represent tenants in subsidized housing who are facing eviction and the loss of housing subsidies which prevent them from becoming homeless.
2017 – Jeremy Herschaft
Houston Maritime Partner Jeremy Herschaft won the 2017 Edwin P. Rome Pro Bono Achievement Award in recognition of his incredible work on behalf of immigrant and refugee families, including spearheading a pro bono partnership between Blank Rome and KIND (Kids in Need of Defense), as well as his involvement with Houston Volunteer Lawyers, the Houston Bar Association’s LegalLines Clinics, and Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Jeremy was also chosen for of his commitment to the Houston Pro Bono Coordinating Committee, where he has led an initiative to handle guardianship cases, assisting family members to obtain legal guardianship of an incapacitated loved one, and has also brought many of his colleagues along to Veterans Legal Advice Clinics.
2016 – Caroline Krauss-Browne and Meg Canby
New York Matrimonial Partners Caroline Krauss-Browne and Meg Canby won the 2016 Edwin P. Rome Award for their tremendous victory in the landmark case of Brooke SB v. Elizabeth CC, in which Meg and Caroline convinced New York’s highest appellate court to expand the definition of parenthood to include non-biological, non-adoptive parents. Prior to Meg and Caroline’s victory, these parents were barred from requesting visitation or custody of the children who they have helped to raise. Now, a parent who is not biologically related to, or the adopted legal guardian of a child has legal standing to request custody or visitation rights of their children. Meg and Caroline have received significant recognition for their work, including a 2017 Community Vision Award from the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Greater New York, and were recently named “2017 Trailblazers” in The National Law Journal.
2015 – Brett S. Ward and Morgan Fraser Mouchette
Brett S. Ward and Morgan Fraser Mouchette won the 2015 award for their advocacy on behalf of a woman veteran in her custody case. Their client’s children were taken from her by an order of the Bronx Family Court because she left home to serve two tours of duty in Iraq. Their client had to leave the military to fight for her children, and then ended up in a homeless shelter for two years as a result. Brett and Morgan represented their client for five years and through two trials, and the representation is ongoing. Because of their efforts, their client now has sole legal and physical custody of her children, and the family is thriving.
2014 – Lawrence J. Beaser
Lawrence J. Beaser was recognized for his career-long commitment to public service and child welfare. Larry was the principal drafter of Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law, which was the first in the state, and he has consistently been called on to offer his counsel on proposed legislation. Throughout his career, Larry has handled many different types of pro bono matters, including representing juveniles in criminal court through the Juvenile Justice Program and working with a variety of nonprofits seeking to improve our communities.
2013 – Michael Joseph
Michael Joseph received the 2013 award for his dedication to pro bono, and more specifically, for his commitment to representing asylum-seekers who are fleeing their home countries to escape persecution based on race, ethnicity, religion, or membership in a particular social group. Michael has successfully represented asylum-seekers from all over the world, including Afghanistan, Cameroon, China, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Honduras, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Serbia, and Syria. He was applauded not only for his tenacious advocacy and his record of success, but also for his compassion and empathy for his refugee clients.
2012 – Barry Abrams
Barry Abrams was recognized for his dedication to pro bono service throughout his career. Barry has donated tens of thousands of hours of his time to pro bono causes. Especially of note is his representation of a death row inmate, spanning nearly 10 years. Sadly, Barry's best efforts on behalf of his client were ultimately unsuccessful, but his client was truly appreciative of the effort on his behalf, even up until the very day of his execution. Barry provides representation to refugee and immigrant children through the National Center for Refugee and Immigrant Children, as well as provides pro bono service through the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program. He also serves on the Access to Justice Committee of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
2011 – Jonathan M. Korn and Andrew Hughes
Jonathan M. Korn and Andrew Hughes received the award for their tireless advocacy on behalf of a young man who was the victim of child sexual abuse by his adoptive father. The young man filed his claims pro se, alleging that his foster father, a prominent pastor, sexually abused him, and others in authority were aware of the abuse and did not intercede. All of the claims except those against the estate of his foster father were dismissed; a default judgment was entered against the estate. The representation was originally supposed to be limited to an evidentiary hearing on a single issue. Upon meeting the client and receiving the file, Jonathan realized that his client's claims against the other defendants were improperly dismissed and recruited Andrew Hughes to work on the case. Jonathan and Andrew worked tirelessly to amend the complaint, revive the improperly dismissed claims, and prepare for litigation. The pair dedicated hundreds of hours to this case to ensure that their client would achieve a favorable result. The defendants settled their claims with the young man, who plans on using the settlement to secure stable housing and to achieve his dream of attending college to help other victims of child abuse.
2010 – Scott Coburn
Scott Coburn was recognized for his unwavering commitment to the Firm’s pro bono program, beginning when he joined the Firm as a summer associate. Scott handled a variety of different matters, including social security disability appeals through the Homeless Advocacy Project and working as a lead attorney through the Landlord-Tenant Municipal Court Project through Philadelphia VIP. He also represented a prisoner in a civil rights claim, negotiating a settlement that will enable the man to start his life over upon release from prison.
2009 – Kate Barecchia
Kate Barecchia received the award for her efforts both as an advocate for her clients and as an advocate for the Firm’s pro bono program. Notably, Kate represented a man in a hotly-contested custody case. The client, who is not biologically related to the child, had nonetheless raised the child since birth. Kate helped her client get custody and reunite his family. She also readily assisted others with cases that they handle, and participated in the Consumer Law Clinic, a four-hour walk-in clinic at the D.C. Superior Court for people with small claims and related issues.
2008 – Francis X. Crowley
Francis X. Crowley was recognized for his commitment to pro bono in a variety of areas. Frank has been recognized by the Support Center for Child Advocates as one of their “Distinguished Advocates” at their Annual Benefit and Award Ceremony. He was also instrumental in developing and supporting a special project to assist indigent parishioners of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia; has represented immigrant victims of persecution who are seeking asylum in the United States; assisted pro bono clients in tangled title cases through Philadelphia VIP; and has helped senior citizens dealing with contractor fraud through the SeniorLAW Center.
2007 – Michael J. Feinman and Cherylle Corpuz
Michael J. Feinman received the award for his tireless efforts on behalf of nonprofit organizations in New York through Lawyers Alliance of New York. For over 14 years, Michael has worked to revitalize blighted communities and to support economic development projects by providing valuable real estate assistance to nonprofit organizations in developing areas of the city. Cherylle Corpuz was also honored for her extensive immigration pro bono work. Working with other Blank Rome attorneys, Cherylle represented asylum seekers from Iraq, Jordan, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Albania, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jordan, and the Ukraine. She was also instrumental in establishing the Firm’s “Safety in Numbers” pro bono program.
2006 – Michelle Altieri
Michelle Altieri was recognized for her pro bono efforts in representing a domestic violence victim who suffered from physical and emotional abuse and had been threatened by her husband with an illegal AR15 assault rifle. Through her efforts, a final restraining order was entered for the client and the court awarded the client sole legal and physical custody of her son.
2005 – Michael P. Broadhurst and Louis Kozloff
Michael P. Broadhurst and Louis Kozloff were both recognized for their extraordinary commitment to child advocacy. While advocating for abused and neglected children in dependency proceedings, Michael and Louis developed the “Child Advocacy Privacy Rights Program.” This program seeks to educate defense counsel, prosecutors, and the judiciary on the importance of protecting the privacy rights of children in neglect and abuse proceedings.
2004 – Katia Fano
Katia Fano was recognized for her efforts on behalf of a young man from Columbia who was persecuted because of his sexual orientation.
2003 – Matthew D. Lee
Matthew D. Lee received the inaugural Edwin P. Rome Pro Bono Achievement Award for pro bono work in the Philadelphia community. Matt's many pro bono achievements include the successful defense of a nonprofit social service organization in a wrongful termination employment law suit; successful representation of an elderly Russian immigrant whose adult day-care services had been terminated; and a political asylum case.