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Baker Donelson Recognizes 2022 Pro Bono Attorneys of the Year

Baker Donelson has announced its annual Pro Bono Attorneys of the Year Awards, recognizing 12 attorneys throughout the Firm for their pro bono work.

Kevin A. Stine was named the firm-wide 2022 Baker Donelson Pro Bono Attorney of the Year. A shareholder in the Firm's Atlanta office, Mr. Stine has served as the Atlanta office pro bono chair since 2019. He was recognized for his pro bono efforts representing a woman in a long-running dispute with a landlord over a condo she rented for her and her son that was uninhabitable. After four years and numerous legal proceedings that ended with the condo being sold in a sheriff's sale on the courthouse steps, ultimately Mr. Stine was able to purchase the condo on the woman's behalf. Although she had long since found alternate housing in another state, she ended up with ownership of the condo and rental income as the new landlord.

Baker Donelson also recognized attorneys in many of its individual offices for their pro bono efforts.

  • Ivy N. Cadle, Atlanta/Macon Pro Bono Attorney of the Year: Mr. Cadle was recognized for his pro bono representation of a family with two sons, one of whom is autistic, in an ongoing eminent domain matter. He assisted the family on numerous related issues, including securing the installation of a temporary fence on the property to protect the children after the family's fence had been torn down, negotiating payment for a new drain field after their original septic drain field was crushed, securing lodging for the family while their house had no water after a contractor had cut the water line, and ultimately negotiating a settlement of the case.
  • Joe Tirone, Baltimore Pro Bono Attorney of the Year: Mr. Tirone was recognized for his pro bono work in support of the Business Network for Offshore Wind, a non-profit organization that supports the development of the U.S. offshore wind supply chain and related workforce development, and provides industry education. Mr. Tirone provides legal support in connection with their programs and activities and is on the board of directors and serves as the board's secretary.
  • Maia Fleischman, Birmingham Pro Bono Attorney of the Year: Ms. Fleischman's pro bono work has included helping to draft an amicus brief on behalf of former appellate judges and state bar presidents in support of a new trial for a man on death row, and serving as local counsel for a Rule 32 petition for a man on death row. She serves as the Birmingham office's pro bono vice chair and is in charge of the pro bono summer associate program in the Birmingham office. Ms. Fleischman also serves as a junior board member of ¡HICA! The Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, a community development and advocacy organization that champions economic equality, civic engagement, and social justice for Latino and immigrant families in Alabama.
  • Aldo M. Leiva, Fort Lauderdale Pro Bono Attorney of the Year: Mr. Leiva is actively involved in the Cuban American Bar Association (CABA), where he has served on the CABA on Cuba Committee since 2004. He has advocated for the Rule of Law in Cuba, serving as counsel for Cuban political prisoners and pro-democracy activists before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). He was involved in a petition filed by CABA with the IACHR on behalf of 41 Cuban activists, artists, dissidents, and citizens who have been arbitrarily detained and/or unjustly imprisoned since the peaceful demonstrations for freedom and democracy in Cuba. Mr. Leiva was honored with CABA's 2021 Outstanding Member of the Year Award in recognition of his outstanding service and dedication to the organization.
  • Leslie Bounds, Jackson (Mississippi) Pro Bono Attorney of the Year: Ms. Bounds serves on the board of directors for the Bethlehem Center in Jackson, which provides childcare services in an underserved area of the city. She has assisted the organization by preparing monthly financials, revising bylaws, assisting with other legal/compliance issues, and providing advice on grant compliance issues.
  • Chelsea N. Hayes, Johnson City Pro Bono Attorney of the Year: Ms. Hayes is active with the Ronald McDonald House, and her service to the organization has included providing guidance on their handbook and urgent employment issues. She also provided pro bono assistance to an individual who was given a few weeks to live, handling all of his estate planning and power of attorney documents.
  • Nicholas W. Diegel, Knoxville Pro Bono Attorney of the Year: Mr. Diegel serves as the lead attorney contact for the UT College of Law Homeless Project, a legal clinic held every other week at the local homeless shelter with law student assistance. In this role, he has assisted persons experiencing homelessness with a wide variety of legal issues, including social security and family law. His other pro bono work has included participating in the Lawyers For Good Government Foundation – Project Corazon, in which he telephonically represented detainees at immigration detention centers in credible fear interviews with an immigration officer; representing a non-profit youth sports association with a misappropriation case; participating in the ABA's Military Pro Bono program; representing a refugee in a conservatorship case; and assisting a local non-profit with a review of its employment policies.
  • Matthew S. Mulqueen, Memphis Pro Bono Attorney of the Year: Mr. Mulqueen's work includes his efforts to ensure access to justice through his chairmanship of the board of directors of the Community Legal Center, his chairmanship of Baker Donelson's Memphis office Pro Bono Committee, and his individual pro bono legal representation of clients in various immigration matters. He was recognized as a 2021 Champion of Justice by the Memphis Bar Association's Access to Justice Committee.
  • John N. Rodock, Washington, D.C. Pro Bono Attorney of the Year: Mr. Rodock does bono estate planning for D.C. residents who qualify for free legal assistance through Legal Counsel for the Elderly. For the past ten years, he has also served on the board of directors of a 501(c)(3) public charity that raises funds for the City of Falls Church library. He handles the corporate work, IRS tax compliance matters, and various other nonprofit issues.

Baker Donelson also recognized Richard Gossett with its Pro Bono Legacy Award. Mr. Gossett, who retired after a tenured career at the Firm, made significant contributions to the underserved community through his pro bono efforts. In 2021, he was recognized by the Tennessee Bar Association as the recipient of its Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year Award, which recognizes significant pro bono work by a private attorney. Mr. Gossett's recognition included his commitment to assisting clients through Tennessee Free Legal Answers, the American Bar Association's virtual legal clinic platform. He provided more than 200 hours responding to questions on FreeLegalAnswers, making him among the largest contributors in the state.

Through its commitment to pro bono representation, Baker Donelson provides legal services to groups and individuals whose resources are limited. For decades, the Firm's attorneys have provided a variety of counsel to many underserved populations that have had no options for legal representation. Baker Donelson's efforts include work on a wide range of matters, such as advocating for the homeless and organizations that serve the homeless, providing corporate legal services to non-profit organizations, collaborating with our clients to address particular community needs, and much more. The Firm has been instrumental in efforts such as expanding the Homeless Experience Legal Protection (HELP) program across the Southeast; creating courts dedicated to handling minor legal matters common among the homeless; assisting persons of limited means with obtaining driver's licenses, an essential need in helping these individuals reintegrate into society; and spearheading and organizing volunteer lawyer programs across Baker Donelson's footprint.

Baker Donelson has led the way in the legal industry by being one of the first law firms in the Southeast to create a Pro Bono Committee and designate a Pro Bono Shareholder. To further its commitment to pro bono, Baker Donelson also designates Pro Bono Committee Office Chairs in most of its 23 offices. These chairs are best suited to address local needs while coordinating with the Firm's Pro Bono Shareholder for global pro bono initiatives. This structure ensures Baker Donelson is well-suited to further its goal of addressing broad spectrum needs across the Firm's footprint and beyond.

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