The New York Bar Foundation has established a new restricted fund in honor of former New York State Bar Association President Mark H. Alcott. An initiative spearheaded by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP of New York (Paul, Weiss) and Mark's wife, Cantor Susan B. Alcott, The Mark H. Alcott Fund will support pro bono legal services for the poor.
Gifts totaling $10,000 already have been contributed to The Foundation from Paul, Weiss and Mr. Alcott's family to establish the fund. The firm's gift serves as a tribute to Alcott for his years of dedicated and ongoing commitment to the legal profession.
Distributions from the fund will be used to provide financial support through the foundation's grant-making program for projects that provide pro bono legal services for the underprivileged. Grants will be awarded to legal services agencies or other nonprofit organizations throughout New York as determined by the foundation's board of directors. The board will make every effort to distribute grant awards to both upstate and downstate service organizations in an equitable manner.
Mark Alcott has spent his professional career as a trial lawyer at Paul, Weiss focusing on commercial litigation. In addition to his substantial client responsibilities, he served for several years as partner in charge of the Paul, Weiss Public Matters Committee, which oversees the firm's extensive pro bono and public service efforts.
While serving as president of the State Bar, Mr. Alcott led the fight for independence and diversity of the bench and the bar and against discrimination in the legal profession. His many initiatives included proposals to reform judicial selection procedures, develop a new civil rights agenda, and enhance opportunities for lawyers in transition between positions, including those who temporarily leave the profession to care for children or other family members and those who leave involuntarily because of adverse economic conditions. He initiated and led the effort to end mandatory retirement policies in the profession, a proposal that won endorsement by the American Bar Association and that led to many significant and favorable changes in this practice. He created the Empire State Counsel program that promotes free legal services for the poor and he advocated an extensive reform agenda.