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Ice Miller Names Five 2021 Director’s Pro Bono Award Honorees Ice Miller Names Five 2021 Director’s Pro Bono Award Honorees

Ice Miller Names Five 2021 Director’s Pro Bono Award Honorees

At Ice Miller LLP, pro bono work is one of our greatest responsibilities. The firm actively seeks pro bono activities that address the most vital needs of our communities while providing meaningful development opportunities for our legal and non-legal staff. The total pro bono hours for 2021 for all staff, across all offices was 10,409.15 hours. This was a 22% increase from the prior year and was the most in the Firm’s history

To recognize the incredible pro bono efforts of those at Ice Miller, each year the Director of Pro Bono Activities Diane Menashe selects five honorees to receive the “Director’s Pro Bono Award.” The Firm donates $500 to the nonprofit selected by each honoree.

This year’s honorees are Adam Alexander, Reena Bajowala, Ming He, Matthew Miller, and Julie Whitney.

Adam Alexander is an Associate in the firm’s Litigation Practice in Indianapolis. In 2021, he served as pro bono co-counsel on two separate civil rights federal cases representing indigent individuals who were incarcerated in the state of Indiana. Originally, both cases were filed by pro-se litigants and when Ice Miller entered their pro bono appearance the matters were set for jury trial. After considerable discovery in both cases, including expert depositions, document review, and pre-trial motion practice, the matters were settled with the clients receiving favorable outcomes. In addition to these civil rights cases, Adam joined Ice Miller’s team in supporting clients in need of name and gender marker changes, assisted with Ice Miller’s Second Chance Driver’s License Reinstatement Clinic, and has been part of a team researching the disparate impact of the death penalty on racial minorities in Cuyahoga County, Ohio.

Adam has selected the Texas Defender Service to receive a $500 contribution. Texas Defender Service (TDS) is a nonprofit law firm whose primary task and commitment is to the representation of Texas prisoners under sentence of death or charged with capital murder. Their Post-Conviction Project has represented clients in cases that have broad implications for the criminal justice system in Texas generally and that raise awareness of systemic injustices in the state’s use of the death penalty.

Reena Bajowala is a Partner in the firm’s Chicago office who has deep experience with data security, information technology, and privacy law issues. In 2021, Reena’s contributions to pro bono ranged greatly. She spearheaded Project H.O.O.D. Ice Miller Pro Bono clinic for the Illinois offices. Ice Miller attorneys staffed a monthly walk-in legal clinic at Project H.O.O.D., a community organization that serves the communities of Woodlawn and Englewood in Chicago. She supervised a team of associates on a variety of pro bono matters ranging from settlement assistance to prisoner rights’ litigation. And Reena provided direct legal services to individuals and non-profit organizations, including the Albany Park Theater Project (APTP), a multi-ethnic youth theater in the Albany Park neighborhood.

Reena has chosen the Albany Park Theater Project (APTP) to receive a $500 contribution. Albany Park Theater Project creates transformative experiences that forge an inclusive community of youth artists, adult artists and audiences to envision and build a more just, equitable and joyful world. She currently serves as President of APTP’s Board of Directors.

Ming He works as a Patent Agent in the firm’s Philadelphia office preparing, filing, and prosecuting applications in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. In 2021, Ming joined attorneys Diane Menashe and Amy Flowers on Ice Miller’s Louisiana Multi-Bill Data Collection and Coding project to help determine the role of race in multi-bill prosecutions tracked in the Habitual Offender Database. Ming also worked with a team of colleagues on the Project Judicial Release Coalition to collect and code data on motions for judicial release filed in Franklin County, Ohio to provide access to justice for incarcerated persons of color. To date, along with our five other partner firms, the team has filed over 90 early/judicial release motions.

Ming has selected the Providence Animal Center to receive a $500 contribution from the firm. Providence Animal Center provides life-affirming rescue, medical care, treatment, protection, and placement of companion animals to animals in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. In addition to placing orphaned pets, they prevent future pet overpopulation through community programs including low-cost public veterinary and behavioral services, community education programs, and pet food pantries.

Matthew Miller is a partner in firm’s Public Finance Group and serves as Chair of the Ice Miller Racial Justice Task Force. In 2021, Matt facilitated a partnership between Ice Miller, DePaul University College of Law and Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA) where all three entities assisted indigent, eligible individuals with expunging their records in Cook County, Illinois. Since its inception, Matt and other Ice Miller attorneys have helped over 30 individuals expunge their records. Matt also worked with the Council of Development Finance Agencies on a strategy to alter the way financial businesses lend to Black borrowers and other minorities. This new minority loan guaranty program will launch in February 2022, and Ohio will serve as the model for a prospective national program. Matt also played an integral part in the creation of Ice Miller’s new Racial Justice Fellowship Program and in creating a formal partnership with the firm and New York-based nonprofit The Lonely Entrepreneur (TLE).

Matt has chosen to send his firm contribution to Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA) in Chicago. CGLA was established to serve legal needs arising from the lack of opportunity, criminalization of poverty, and racial inequity experienced within the Cabrini Green community. They aim to proactively fill the void of legal representation, wraparound services, and advocacy for individuals affected by the criminal justice system.

Julie Whitney is a Paralegal for several Ice Miller practice groups in the Columbus office. Julie’s 2021 pro bono work involved volunteering with the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Franklin County, Ohio, a non-profit organization that she has dedicated fifteen years to supporting. CASA volunteers get to know the children and conduct investigations to understand the children’s situations, in order to make fact-based recommendations to the Juvenile Court. “The idea that I can make a positive difference in a child’s life for a better future is beyond words,” said Julie. “I have learned from every child that I have advocated for and it has made me a better person, parent, and citizen.”

Julie will be donating her $500 firm contribution to CASA of Franklin County. Their mission is to provide a powerful and consistent voice in court for child victims of abuse and neglect. CASA provides a critical local need and is the only community organization providing such services in Franklin County.

Congratulations to all honorees on a job well done. Learn more about Ice Miller’s pro bono work here.
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