The New Jersey State Bar Association announced its annual Pro Bono Awards last month.
John Hargrave, a South Jersey attorney, received the individual award at the Fourth Annual Pro Bono Conference, and Roseland-based Lowenstein Sandler PC received an award for excellence by an organization at the same event.
Bar Association President Susan A. Feeney praised the winners, calling their pro bono work exemplary. "As lawyers, we have a special tool - a law degree - that enables us to give back to the community. That is our privilege and obligation. Through their volunteer efforts, Lowenstein Sandler PC and John Hargrave have helped improve the lives of countless people," she said.
The selection of Lowenstein for a recognition award follows the firm's decision to create the Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest to expand upon its community and volunteer legal work.
Over the past year, the firm started a partnership with Living Cities, a nonprofit devoted to urban revitalization. Attorneys helped establish a framework that will allow the organization to make $85 million in grants and loans to local nonprofits in cities around the country.
On the litigation front, firm attorneys represented people seeking help with immigration, domestic violence and military benefits. The firm also sought broader impact through amicus work and other cases, including helping convince the New Jersey Supreme Court to establish visitation rights for siblings in foster care.
During 2010, each of the firm's attorneys spent an average of 97 hours on pro bono matters and helped 187 clients. Barrington attorney John Hargrave embodies the pro bono ethic. In his 16 years as leader of the Rutgers School of Law - Camden Pro Bono Bankruptcy Project, Mr. Hargrave has represented over 100 clients seeking Chapter 7 help. The project is a joint effort with South Jersey Legal Services.
In addition to his work with bankruptcy clients, he is also a founder of a financial literacy project that helps people learn about their responsibilities and risks related to credit, as well as personal finance and bills. Mr. Hargrave said he enjoys helping people and teaching students. The pro bono cases help keep him grounded, he added.