Gibbons Attorney Mary Frances Palisano Receives Pro Bono Award from Essex County Bar Association


September 17, 2020

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The Essex County Bar Association (ECBA) presented Mary Frances Palisano, a Director in the Commercial & Criminal Litigation Department at Gibbons P.C. and Pro Bono Coordinator for the firm, with its Bernard A. Kuttner Pro Bono Service Award at the organization’s 2020 Achievement Awards ceremony, held on September 16 at Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell, New Jersey.

Ms. Palisano was recognized for her leadership role in the firm’s award-winning, nationally recognized pro bono program, which she has significantly expanded in terms of scope, external partnerships, and regional impact. She seeks out meaningful pro bono work for Gibbons attorneys; fields requests from outside organizations, firm attorneys, and clients with particular pro bono interests; actively manages pro bono cases; coordinates clinics; and mentors and oversees the pro bono work of associates. In conjunction with nonprofit partners like Volunteer Lawyers for Justice and Partners for Women and Justice, as well as such corporate partners as AT&T and PSE&G, Ms. Palisano helped develop and oversees the firm’s various free legal clinics, three of which are the first of their kind in New Jersey: Gibbons Expungement Clinic; Child Custody, Visitation and Child Support Clinic for Victims of Domestic Violence; and Veteran’s Legal Program.

Recently, Ms. Palisano has begun coordinating pro bono efforts with the Gibbons Diversity Initiative, to implement new programs that direct Gibbons attorneys’ volunteer contributions to platforms that advance the goals of racial equality and justice. For example, in July 2020, she worked with Robert Johnson, the firm’s Chief Diversity Officer, to launch a partnership with the “Small Businesses Need Us” program, which was recently launched by the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL) to assist women and minority small business owners impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Since Mary Fran became Chair of our firm’s Pro Bono Committee, she has engaged a growing number of our attorneys, who volunteer more and more hours each year, by collaborating with organizations that offer them opportunities to take on innovative, meaningful pro bono projects that have wide-ranging impact,” said Patrick C. Dunican Jr., Chairman and Managing Director of Gibbons. “From our expungement and domestic violence legal clinics to our newest pro bono campaign to help M/WBEs survive the COVID crisis, Mary Fran has found non-traditional ways to involve Gibbons attorneys across all practice areas in the kind of work that invests in our communities and improves people’s lives.”

About Gibbons Cares
Through our dedicated community outreach and pro bono program – Gibbons Cares – the firm donates more than $1 million annually, as well as extensive volunteer service and pro bono legal representation, in support of those communities in which the firm has offices. Community outreach and corporate responsibility are firm-wide values, and Gibbons Cares encourages employee feedback and project leadership, fostering the sense of teamwork necessary to achieve exceptional results. And while we are committed to the philosophy of “doing good while doing well,” we are lucky enough to have clients who share that philosophy, and we are proud to partner with them on many of our outreach projects.

No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. A description of the selection process methodology for the awards referenced is available at