NJSBA 2020 Pro Bono Awards honor attorneys, firms for providing justice for the voiceless in New Jersey

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October 26, 2020
Contact: Kate Coscarelli
NEW BRUNSWICK - An attorney who has devoted 55 years to pro bono legal service and a law firm that has filed numerous amicus briefs on high-profile matters are just two of the New Jersey State Bar Association’s (NJSBA) 2020 Pro Bono Award recipients.
On Oct. 27, at the virtual 2020 Pro Bono Awards, the NJSBA will honor Pashman Stein Walder Hayden (PSWH) in Hackensack, Charles F. Rysavy of K&L Gates in Newark, Michael R. Griffinger of Gibbons in Newark, and Catherine Weiss of Lowenstein Sandler in Roseland for their significant work to improve access to justice for the underserved in New Jersey. 
To register for the Virtual 2020 Pro Bono Awards, CLICK HERE.
Griffinger will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award for a longstanding commitment to pro bono work, helping the underserved and making a lasting contribution during his 55-year legal career. He has donated at least 20,000 hours to pro bono work and served countless clients. 
Among his many achievements, Griffinger developed the Gibbons Fellowship in Public Interest and Constitutional Law, now in its 30th year. The fellowship has litigated some of the most significant legal issues of our time, including death penalty cases, same-sex marriage issues, the rights of detained enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, equal funding for education, the prevention of domestic violence, the rights of pregnant women, juvenile defendant issues and the rights of individuals with AIDS.
Weiss, a member of the Pro Bono Committee, will receive a special Pillar of Justice Award for her pro bono work during the COVID-19 pandemic. With an expertise in tenancy issues, she was a leader in statewide efforts to prevent evictions. 
PSWH will receive the LawFirm/ Corporate Legal Department Award. The firm focuses its pro bono work on public interest impact litigation and appellate advocacy that advances social, racial and economic justice; protects civil liberties and constitutional rights; and promotes an open and transparent government. 
In 2019, PSWH established the Justice Gary S. Stein Public Interest Center as a practice area within the firm. The bulk of PSWH’s pro bono work in 2019 was drafting and filing amicus curiae briefs in the New Jersey Supreme Court and Appellate Division for public interest organizations in numerous high-profile matters. The firm estimates it donated more than 1,720 hours of pro bono hours in 2019.
Rysavy will receive the individual attorney award. He has worked as an advocate for refugee children, most from Central America’s Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, and nearly all have experienced some form of trauma, most often child abuse, neglect, abandonment, sexual violence, gang violence or recruitment, or trafficking.
Rysavy donated nearly 400 pro bono hours in 2019, and an estimated 2,164 pro bono hours during his 33-year career.