President Bill Clinton to Public Counsel: 'You Are Doing a Noble Thing'
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President Bill Clinton told a packed house of 1,200 people that Public Counsel's work gave people hope and opportunity. "You are doing a noble thing," said the 42nd president at the William O. Douglas Dinner on Friday, March 18. "You have no idea how many people you've given a different story because you've stepped into the breach for people who have no power."
The 42nd President of the United Stated and founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation, received Public Counsel's 2011 William O. Douglas Award at the Beverly Hilton, celebrating Public Counsel’s 40 years of service for American families.
"President Clinton once said “Let it be our cause” to give children “a happy home, a healthy family, a hopeful future.” That’s Public Counsel’s cause," said Hernán Vera, Public Counsel's President and CEO.
The former president was introduced by actress/singer Barbra Streisand, who said “I’m here tonight because Public Counsel is celebrating 40 years of excellent work providing pro bono legal services to those who are most vulnerable.”
Watch clips from Barbra Streisand and President Bill Clinton:
Attorney General Kamala Harris, Legal Legends and CBS Stars Share the Stage
Public Counsel honored the law firm of Irell & Manella LLP, which received the Law Firm Pro Bono Award. Irell & Manella partner Morgan Chu accepted the award, saying "we are grateful to have been able to be a small part" of Public Counsel's work.
"The one true calling of a democracy is to ensure access to justice," said California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who presented the Corporate Achievement Award to CBS Executive Vice President and General Counsel Jonathan Anschell. After brief remarks, Anschell surrendered the microphone to a video tribute from CBS stars Katie Couric, Scott Pelley of "60 Minutes," Christine Baranski and Josh Charles of "The Good Wife" and late-night host Craig Ferguson.
Actor Mike Farrell (“Providence,” “M*A*S*H”) emceed the event, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa opened the evening with welcoming remarks.
The William O. Douglas Award is named for the late Supreme Court justice noted for his support for civil rights and freedom of speech. Past recipients include former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, Vice President Al Gore and Assistant Secretary for Veterans Affairs L. Tammy Duckworth.
As President Clinton reminded the audience, "Intelligence and dreams are evenly distributed, but rights are not."