Wellness Wednesday: Pro Bono Award Recipients

Having spent time at the bar exam the past two days, I was reminded of the Basic Skills Seminar that the VBA presents for new lawyers.  It occurs twice each year: the days before Mid-Year and Annual Meetings.

The agenda includes 2 hours on “Vermont Professionalism.”  I open by discussing professional responsibility, then Eileen Blackwood hones in on the pro bono opportunities.  Over the past few presentations, we’ve used “wellness” as segue from my presentation to Eileen’s.  Specifically, Eileen has made it a point to mention that one of the most rewarding cases of her career was one that she took pro bono.  While Eileen says it better than I can, the reward is the positive feelings that flow from helping someone who desperately needed it, for no other reason than because you could.

On the flip side, let’s leave no doubt: pro bono work is a form of giving that can improve another’s wellness.  To that end, on Wellness Wednesday, I’d like to call your attention to the recipients of the VBA’s 2020 Pro Bono Award: Tom French & Samantha Lednicky.

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I’ve pasted in the VBA’s official announcement.  The link is here.

The Vermont Bar Association is proud to announce that Attorneys Thomas M. French and Samantha V. Lednicky will both be this year’s recipients of VBA’s 2020 Pro Bono Service Awards.  The award is given annually to one or more attorneys who exemplify the best traditions of our profession by giving unselfishly of their time and skill to provide pro bono legal services to the poor and disadvantaged.

Thomas M. French is a pro bono emeritus attorney in Brattleboro who was nominated by attorneys James Valente and Thomas Costello for his work with military veterans.  Following military service himself as a JAG attorney, French worked as a general practitioner in Windham County for 50 years, often serving clients pro bono.  After retirement, Attorney French set up a pro bono program at his local American Legion post where he can be found every Tuesday and Thursday helping veterans obtain benefits they have been wrongfully denied.  In 4 years, Attorney French has won 14 out of the 15 actions he brought for his veteran clients, securing nearly $500,000 in benefits for them.  

Samantha V. Lednicky is with the firm of Murdoch Hughes Twarog and Tarnelli in Burlington.  She was nominated by Hon. Helen Toor and Frank Twarog, Esq. who recognized her work in the rent escrow clinic in Chittenden Civil Division.  Not only does Attorney Lednicky regularly volunteer to represent low income tenants at these clinics, but she frequently continues representation beyond the clinic to ensure that the tenants receive justice in the court process.  Attorney Twarog also praised Lednicky for her successful pro bono efforts to win parenting rights for a low income, homeless parent in a case to which she brought “a fresh prospective and her usual diligence.”

Attorneys French and Lednicky will be presented with the VBA’s Pro Bono Service Award at our mid-year meeting luncheon on March 27 in Burlington. 

Congratulations – and thank you – to Sam & Tom!

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