Our Stories

Public Counsel Celebrates this year's Pro Bono Award Winners

Marie McTeague (center) with her Pro Bono Award, Senior Staff Attorney Ruth Cusick (left) and Pro Bono Director David Daniels.

Congratulations and thank you to this year’s Public Counsel Pro Bono of the Year Award winners. As one of the nation’s largest public interest law firms, Public Counsel strives to provide vital legal services to the most vulnerable individuals and communities.

However, none of the good that we do would ever be possible without the dedicated efforts of thousands of people, both within the legal field and beyond. With that in mind, each year Public Counsel seeks to highlight and honor through its Pro Bono Awards a select group that has gone far beyond in providing outstanding and impactful service to those in need. The recipients of these awards are an exemplary group of talented and devoted practitioners who kindly donated significant portions of time to ensuring justice for those who would otherwise be voiceless and without hope. Please join us in congratulating and celebrating this year’s recipients!


Nominated By


Southern California Edison Legal Department

Adoptions Program

Southern California Edison’s Legal Department has been helping families for years, finalizing adoptions for children in the foster care system and vigorously advocating for children with special needs to receive appropriate funding and the specialized services they need to heal from abuse and neglect.

Marie McTeague

Statewide Education Rights Project (SERP)

Marie has been a volunteer with SERP from 2016, following a 35 year career as a litigator. She has deeply invested her time, effort, and talent into our School Discipline Defense Project, taking on individual casework and serving as a mentor to many junior attorneys.

Janet London

Guardianship Team

The Guardianship Team could not run its busy and demanding clinic without Janet London’s help. Janet started volunteering at the Guardianship Clinic in the Fall of 2015.  Janet spends between 12 and 18 hours at the clinic each week, assisting a long line of scared, panicked, and traumatized litigants. Each day, Janet completes numerous guardianship and termination petitions, objections, visitation requests, notice requirements, ex parte petitions, and much more.  Janet’s kind and compassionate nature pairs with her diligence and attention to detail to make her the perfect attorney for the Guardianship Clinic.

James Walther


Arnold & Porter

Community Development Project

The Community Development Project extends special thanks to James Walther of Arnold & Porter for the work he has done on behalf of nonprofit organizations in Los Angeles. In addition to helping nonprofits with incorporation and application for tax exemption, in the past two years, James has represented four nonprofit organizations in three different mergers and has become one of our “go-to” pro bono attorneys when an organization requests assistance with a merger. In the words of the Executive Director of a nonprofit domestic violence shelter he assisted, “[James’s] expertise was priceless for me . . . [he was] so thoughtful and experienced in explaining the reasons for certain concerns and [he] represented our best interest when I didn’t know how. I know that our merger agreement best represents the needs of [the organization] because of [his] due diligence.”

Philip Cook


The Cook Law Firm

Early Care & Education Law Unit

The Early Care & Education Law Unit extends a special thanks to Philip Cook for his zealous representation of a child care provider who was illegally denied the right to operate a child care in his home. ECE nominated Mr. Cook to receive its pro bono award because of his long-standing commitment to assisting child care providers and increasing the quality and supply of affordable child care in Los Angeles. We truly appreciate his persistence, passion, and understanding of the issues faced by our child care provider clients. Phil has also contributed greatly to Public Counsel through work on other Public Counsel matters, including participating in a risk management panel for our nonprofit clients, and serving for many years on our Board. Phil’s volunteer hours have been invaluable in ensuring that child care providers don’t face unnecessary hurdles and barriers to providing quality child care for young children.

The David Lupica Litigation Team


Hogan Lovells

Consumer Law Project

When David Lupica came to a Public Counsel foreclosure clinic in early 2014, he did not know what had happened to him. He and his teenage daughter lived in an Eagle Rock home that he had inherited from his parents. Although he owned the home outright, he had no income, and when he came to Public Counsel Mr. Lupica and his daughter were living without water or electricity. In order to try to pay his bills and restore utility service, Mr. Lupica had sought out a loan. He believed that he was taking out a loan for $10,000. Instead, he signed papers selling his home for that amount. The buyer then sought to evict the Lupicas. For three years, Hogan Lovells fought on Mr. Lupica’s behalf, and kept him and his daughter from homelessness. We often do not hear what happens in the postscript of these cases, but we do know that Mr. Lupica received an amazing settlement, which sufficed to ensure that he and his daughter could purchase a new home.

Jennie L. La Prade, Partner


Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

Federal Pro Se Clinic

The Federal Pro Se Clinic nominated Jennie because of the outstanding commitment she has shown to assisting disadvantaged people who are litigating without an attorney in the Central District of California. She has helped numerous clients prepare complaints, answers, discovery, motions, settlement agreements, and prepare for mediation conferences.  To Jennie, each client is important and each client meeting is an opportunity to explain the law and explore options to address real problems affecting our clients.  Our heartfelt thanks go to Jennie La Prade for her sincere commitment to helping others achieve better lives.

Janet Levine


The MTA Racial Justice Team


Crowell & Moring LLP

Homelessness Prevention Law Project

Over the last year, a team of Crowell & Moring attorneys, led by partner Janet Levine, has been working with the Homelessness Prevention Law Project, Consumer Law, and Children’s Rights on a cross-Project collaboration to investigate racial discrimination claims on public transit. The Crowell & Moring team has gone above and beyond to protect the rights of indigent MTA riders and increase access to transit. They are actively contesting due process failures in administrative MTA hearings by representing clients in individual cases.


Your Time and Expertise Can Change Lives! Register Now as A Pro Bono Volunteer

Read more about how you can participate in our Volunteer Opportunities and sign up for our monthly Top 10 List of cases in need of pro bono support. For more information, contact Public Counsel Pro Bono Director David Daniels at ddaniels@publiccounsel.org.