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Legal Services Corporation honors Thompson Coburn for pro bono service

January 24, 2019

From left: John Levi, Chairman, Board of Directors, Legal Services Corporation; Thompson Coburn partner Mark Kaltenrieder; Julie Reiskin, Board Member, Legal Services Corporation; Thompson Coburn Chairman Tom Minogue; James Sandman, President, Legal Services Corporation

On January 17, Thompson Coburn was recognized for its commitment to pro bono legal service by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). At a ceremony held in conjunction with the LSC’s quarterly meeting in St. Louis, Chairman Tom Minogue and partner and pro bono coordinator Mark Kaltenrieder accepted the award on the Firm’s behalf.

LSC is the single largest funder of civil legal aid for low-income Americans in the nation. The clients of LSC-funded programs represent every ethnic group and every age group and live in rural, suburban, and urban areas. Women — many of whom are struggling to keep children safe and families together — comprise 70 percent of clients.

Thompson Coburn was nominated for the LSC honor by longtime pro bono partner Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (LSEM). For more than three decades, Thompson Coburn has worked with LSEM to connect our attorneys with pro bono cases impacting our communities and those who live in them. In particular, over the past two years Thompson Coburn has devoted hundreds of hours of pro bono work to legal issues such as guardianship for children and tenants’ rights, as well as assisting low-income entrepreneurs.

Thompson Coburn also sponsors the William G. Guerri Chair through LSEM, an annual $50,000 donation allowing an LSEM attorney to work exclusively on educational access for disadvantaged children. Named for longtime managing partner Bill Guerri, the program has provided legal representation to more than 300 children with special needs.

The other 2019 award recipients were Stinson Leonard Street LLP and two individual attorneys nominated by Legal Aid of Western Missouri, Legal Services of Southern Missouri, and Mid-Missouri Legal Services.

In his remarks at the top of the award presentation, John Levi, the Chairman of the Board of LSC, underscored the fundamental need for pro bono services with a quote from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “Lawyers have a license to practice law, a monopoly on certain services. But for that privilege and status, lawyers have an obligation to provide legal services to those without the wherewithal to pay, to respond to needs outside themselves, to help repair tears in their communities.”

LSC, founded in 1974, currently funds over 130 independent legal aid programs in every state and the District of Columbia. Much of the LSC’s funding is provided through the Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a Congressionally funded grant program that in 2018 provided $4.5 million to innovative legal aid projects that “engage pro bono lawyers and other volunteers to better meet the civil legal needs of low-income Americans.”