December 05, 2012
The Honorable John J. Gibbons, former Chief Judge of the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and a Director in the Gibbons Business & Commercial Litigation Department, received the Douglas S. Eakeley Award at the Volunteer Lawyers for Justice (VLJ) “Arts & Eats for Justice” gala, held December 4, 2012, at the Montclair Art Museum.

Created in 2007, the Douglas S. Eakeley Award recognizes members of New Jersey’s legal community who, throughout their careers, have dedicated themselves to increasing the provision of free legal services to those in need. VLJ presented Judge Gibbons with the Eakeley Award for his exceptional commitment over a storied, five-decade career to the protection of the rule of law in this country, a commitment that culminated in his defense before the Supreme Court of the United States of the 660 men incarcerated at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

“Judge Gibbons created the standard for community outreach and pro bono service that has become one of our fundamental firm-wide values,” says Patrick C. Dunican Jr., Chairman and Managing Director of Gibbons. “The work that VLJ does is critical to providing all New Jersey residents with equal access to a fair legal system.”

Judge Gibbons founded, and currently is the director of, the John J. Gibbons Fellowship in Public Interest & Constitutional Law. This unique program goes beyond typical pro bono work, with three attorneys on staff at the firm who undertake, on a pro bono basis, public interest and constitutional law projects and litigation for a variety of cases, representing public interest organizations, government agencies, private nonprofit corporations, courts, and individuals. Under Judge Gibbons’ direction, the Fellowship has been involved in the most significant and controversial issues that confront the federal and state courts today. In 2005, he received the Lifetime Achievement award from The American Lawyer for his outstanding private practice and his dedication and contribution to the public good and was named the 2004 Lawyer of the Year by the New Jersey Law Journal for his dedication to pro bono causes.

About VLJ
VLJ provides economically disadvantaged adults, children, and families in New Jersey with pro bono representation and advice, to ensure for them fair and equal treatment within the legal system. Since its founding, VLJ has grown from a grassroots effort of 30 volunteer attorneys in Essex County to a statewide not-for-profit with five staff attorneys and more than 1,500 volunteers aiding thousands of clients each year. VLJ’s programs include free legal counsel and advice, educational seminars on various legal matters, and direct representation for at-risk individuals facing critical civil legal issues.