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Baker Donelson Recognizes Attorneys for Pro Bono Work
May 2, 2012
Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC, has recognized 18 attorneys within the Firm for their commitment to pro bono service.

William N. Norton and David C. Rieveschl were named the Firm-wide 2012 Baker Donelson Pro Bono Attorneys of the Year. Mr. Norton and Mr. Rieveschl, who are both of counsel in the Firm's New Orleans office, were recognized for heading the office's Baker Donelson Non-Profit Institute (BDNI) team. BDNI offers a package of board training, analysis of director liabilities and protections, and corporate document compliance review and update for non-profits with a charitable or community purpose. Under the leadership of Mr. Norton and Mr. Rieveschl, the New Orleans BDNI team has provided pro bono legal assistance to 20 non-profit organizations associated with Social Entrepreneurs of New Orleans that have identified a social challenge and are working to provide innovative solutions and to achieve long-term change, as well as another 30 non-profits that are Kellogg Foundation grantees in Louisiana.

Baker Donelson also recognized a number of its attorneys as local attorneys of the year in individual offices for their pro bono efforts:

Nedom A. Haley, Atlanta: Mr. Haley was recognized for his pro bono work providing tax and corporate counsel to non-profit organizations such as the Beauty Becomes You Foundation, which provides aesthetic services for low income seniors; the Georgia Conservancy, which seeks to protect Georgia's environment and natural resources; and Action Ministries Atlanta, which provides a variety of services for the homeless. Mr. Haley has also volunteered with the Atlanta office's Cancer Legal Initiative in partnership with Atlanta Legal Aid.

Errol J. King Jr., Baton Rouge: Mr. King was recognized for representing an individual who suffers from bipolar disorder in successfully appealing the denial of social security disability benefits. He also provided assistance in seeking licensing exemptions for Sanctuary for Life, a Baton Rouge non-profit that offers housing and other support services for low income pregnant women.

Stacey A. Davis, Birmingham: Ms. Davis received this award for her entertainment law work with Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival, which conducts an annual celebration of independent cinema in downtown Birmingham, and for handling more than half a dozen pro bono adoption cases through the Birmingham Volunteer Lawyers Program.

Marlene J. Bidelman, Chattanooga: Ms. Bidelman was recognized for assisting an employee in the Firm's Chattanooga office in the adoption of his wife's two-year-old son from a previous relationship. Her pro bono efforts also included working with the Orange Grove Center, which provides services for persons with disabilities and their families.

Sheryl Bey, Jackson: Ms. Bey was recognized for her work on behalf of death row inmates, as well as other clients in need. Over the last several years, along with co-counsel, Ms. Bey has represented two individuals on death row in connection with their federal habeas corpus proceedings to address violations of their constitutional rights. She has also represented individuals in divorce, child support and custody matters.

Jennifer P. Keller, Johnson City: Ms. Keller was recognized for devoting a significant amount of time to an extensive review and revision of corporate documents for the Coalition for Kids, a non-profit organization devoted to supporting the advancement of low income children in the Johnson City area through tutoring, mentoring, recreation and educational activities. She also provided legal counsel on a variety of legal matters to the Central Baptist Church in Johnson City.

Eddy L. De Los Santos, Houston: Mr. De Los Santos was recognized for his devotion to Child Advocates, Inc. (CAI), Houston's chapter of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), which uses court-appointed volunteers to act as the voice for abused children. Since 2001, Mr. De Los Santos has handled six court cases, all resulting in family reunification, and served 21 children. He also serves on the CAI board of directors, is actively involved in committee work and serves as the organization's legal counsel, providing guidance on issues including litigation, employment, contracts and more.

LeAnn Mynatt, Knoxville: Ms. Mynatt received this award for her services to the Foothills Land Conservancy, a non-profit dedicated to preserving the environment in Eastern Tennessee, and the Ijams Nature Center, a park and environmental learning center in Knoxville. She serves on the boards of both organizations and provides legal counsel on environmental issues as well as other important issues such as fundraising.

Leo Bearman, Lori Patterson, Kate Bogard, Gabe McGaha and Ashley Satterfield, Memphis: This team was recognized for its work representing a group of Memphis voters in ongoing voting rights litigation that arose from the proposed consolidation of the City of Memphis and Shelby County governments. At issue in the litigation, which could yield a significant voting rights decision, is the "one person, one vote" principle found in the 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

John B. Burns, Nashville: Over the last several years, Mr. Burns has provided tax and corporate assistance to dozens of non-profit organizations ranging from the Memphis in May International Festival to the Fannie Battle Day Home for Children and the Historic Elmwood Cemetery. He has also helped numerous individuals with estate and guardianship matters and handled the legal work to establish BakerCares, Inc., a non-profit that will provide temporary financial assistance to Baker Donelson employees in times of emergency need.

Paul Colomb, New Orleans: Mr. Colomb was recognized for his work with the New Orleans Homeless Court, which provides a more streamlined system for addressing and resolving legal barriers that prevent homeless individuals from re-establishing themselves as productive citizens. Mr. Colomb meets with the service providers and court representatives to determine who is eligible, and then attends each docket to assist the individuals and the service providers. He also was instrumental in keeping the court going when staffing changes threatened to derail it.

John G. Calender, Washington, D.C.: Mr. Calender was recognized for his work with Hope Beyond Hope, an organization dedicated to finding innovative solutions to maximize health care delivery to the less fortunate in the U.S. and around the world. Hope Beyond Hope founder Dr. Bruce Wolf sought to create a national model to effectively harvest over $10 billion a year in reclaimed pharmaceuticals, which are normally destroyed in the routine course of business, to establish a drug bank for low income patients. When pharmaceutical companies were reluctant to work together due to significant antitrust concerns, Mr. Calender prepared an antitrust compliance plan, as well as guidelines and protocols that allowed the Hope Beyond Hope Summit and initiative to proceed. Mr. Calender also helped plan and lead the Summit of Hope and assisted Dr. Wolf and Hope Beyond Hope in drafting a $7.8 million innovation grant to CMS.

"We are so proud, and so fortunate, to be able to recognize the amazing service of these lawyers who are bringing their outstanding skills and their ideals to bear on very important issues in our communities," said Lisa W. Borden, the Firm's Pro Bono Shareholder. "These award winners are people who lead by example, and the entire Firm benefits from the standard they set for generosity and community spirit."

Through its commitment to pro bono representation, Baker Donelson provides legal services to groups and individuals likely to be marginalized in the legal system due to economic barriers. Over the years, the Firm's attorneys have provided a variety of counsel to many populations, including immigrants, refugees, the elderly and the impoverished. Baker Donelson's efforts include work on a wide range of matters, such as advocating for the homeless and organizations that serve the homeless, death penalty litigation, providing corporate legal services to non-profit organizations, and much more.

Additional information on Baker Donelson's Pro Bono efforts is available at http://www.bakerdonelson.com/pro-bono/.