Schnader Honors Keith Whitson with Earl G. Harrison Pro Bono AwardOn July 16, 2012 by Schnader in Appellate
July 16, 2012 – Pittsburgh, PA: Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP is pleased to announce that Keith E. Whitson has been recognized as the 2012 recipient of the Earl G. Harrison Pro Bono award. The award recognizes Mr. Whitson for his sustained record of performing pro bono work, numerous outstanding achievements of enduring value, and providing inspiration and mentorship to many of his colleagues.
“Keith has been one of the Firm’s most prolific attorneys in terms of pro bono hours and matters, as well as a leader in the Pittsburgh office and throughout the Firm in mentoring and assisting other lawyers in pro bono matters,” said David Smith, Chairman of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP. “Over the past few years, Keith has worked on more than a dozen different pro bono matters, taking the lead in some, actively supervising the work of junior lawyers in others, and pitching in or offering advice in yet others.”
Mr. Whitson has worked on death penalty and prisoner civil rights cases, among others, but much of his work and the focus of his mentorship and leadership, has been in immigration cases. He has handled a few cases that required him to advocate for expansion of traditional definitions of persecuted social groups. In one case, Mr. Whitson successfully argued that an Iraqi persecuted for giving assistance to the United Forces in Iraq was entitled to asylum and in another he obtained asylum for a Rwandan woman who was a victim of domestic abuse.
In the best pro bono tradition, Mr. Whitson has not avoided unpopular cases. A few years ago, he advocated in federal court, including the Third Circuit, for an Egyptian-born American nuclear physicist who had his longstanding security clearance suddenly revoked, thereby leading to the loss of his senior scientist position at a Pittsburgh-area nuclear power facility. Although the client was never provided an explanation for the revocation, it was widely believed to be the result of his work with Muslim prisoners and his criticism of U.S. foreign policy. Yet, Mr. Whitson advocated valiantly and zealously for the client’s right to challenge the revocation of his security clearance.
He represents clients in all types of immigration proceedings, including asylum applications and removal proceedings and represents a variety of individuals and organizations in many different fields. He has participated in pro bono programs through the Allegheny County Bar Association and the Pittsburgh Pro Bono Partnership, and is a previous recipient of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Award.
“Mr. Whitson embodies the principles upon which the Harrison Pro Bono Award was founded,” said George McGrann, managing partner of the Firm’s Pittsburgh office. “He has been a role model for the Pittsburgh team by demonstrating these qualities that we hope will continue to be associated with work done by Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis.”
ABOUT THE EARL G. HARRISON PRO BONO AWARD
The Earl G. Harrison Pro Bono Award was named for one of the Firm’s original partners and is presented annually to a Firm attorney or staff member who has a distinguished record of pro bono service. The Firm selects an honoree with a demonstrated record that consists of outstanding achievement of enduring value to the public good, a leading role in inspiring and sustaining pro bono service by other Firm personnel, or a sustained record of personal pro bono service over a number of years. The award reflects the tradition and collective belief of the Schnader: that law is more than a business, and it should include using our skill, talent, and wisdom to improve access to justice for every individual and to advance the common good. Earl G. Harrisonâ€š in whose memory the Firm gives this Awardâ€š was both a great lawyer and a remarkable humanitarian, who – after World War II – worked to convince the western nations to both open their own borders to those displaced persons liberated from the Nazi concentration campsâ€š and to support the creation of the State of Israelâ€š where Jews who could not face returning to their former homes could emigrate.
ABOUT SCHNADER HARRISON SEGAL & LEWIS LLP
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