SAN FRANCISCO, August 13, 2010 – Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP has been recognized as the California State Bar President’s 2010 Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year. The prestigious award, which annually honors a California law firm for extraordinary pro bono service, will be bestowed in a presentation with California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George at the State Bar Annual Meeting in Monterey, Calif. on September 24.
Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass is being honored by the State Bar for the firm’s pro bono efforts throughout 2009, a remarkable year in which the firm’s attorneys contributed over 4,700 pro bono hours across a wide variety of practice areas in matters including:
Direct representation of a federal inmate in a federal civil rights action against a doctor at Salinas Valley State Prison, culminating in a 7-day jury trial;
Providing legal services for more than 60 matters from the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights on issues ranging from unlawful detainer, debt collection, administrative agency disputes, and evictions;
Representation of several criminal record expungement cases with the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office Clean Slate Program;
Representation of a complex immigration case before the Board of Immigration Appeals regarding a Togolese man denied asylum who was detained and tortured by his government;
Staffing seasonal tax clinics to assist low-income taxpayers with the preparation of income tax returns; and
Coaching 20 high school students from San Francisco’s School for the Arts in preparation for the annual Mock Trial Competition sponsored by the Bar Association of San Francisco and the Constitutional Rights foundation.
“2009 was an incredible year of service for the firm,” said Pam Duffy, name partner and co-chair of the firm’s pro bono committee. “Service is not only our duty as members of the Bar, it is also an incredible opportunity to give back to the broader Bay Area community and to directly affect the lives of underserved individuals. We’re thrilled that our lawyers continue to embrace this important commitment and especially proud that the State Bar has recognized our efforts.”
Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass maintains an active pro bono committee of attorneys and staff who are committed to supporting and encouraging pro bono efforts in all of the firm's practices. The firm is a signatory to the National Pro Bono Project and the Bar Association of San Francisco's Pledge in Support of Pro Bono Service. The firm also has pledged to both the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and the San Francisco Superior Court to devote a minimum of three percent of billable hours to pro bono matters and has exceeded the pledge annually.
This honor by the State Bar is the most recent for the firm, which has also been recognized in recent years for pro bono service throughout the state. In 2009, Coblentz litigation partner Frederick Fields was awarded the Keta Taylor Colby Award by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights in recognition of his outstanding commitment to and representation of the poor and under-represented. In 2010, corporate group partner Sara Finigan was honored by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights with the James T. Caleshu Award for her extraordinary pro bono contributions to the Legal Services for Entrepreneurs Program.
The firm's senior partner, William Coblentz, has been a leader and inspiration to the firm in its pro bono and community commitments. In 2008, the firm established the William K. Coblentz Endowment Fund at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law to support research on racial and ethnic justice. In 2010, Coblentz was honored with the University of California, Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) Distinguished Service Award.
About the President’s Pro Bono Service Awards
The President’s Pro Bono Service Awards were established in 1983 by the State Bar Board of Governors to recognize California attorneys who provide or enable the direct provision of legal services to poor persons or to organizations whose primary purpose is to provide legal services to the poor, free-of-charge, without expectation of compensation from the client.