Gibbons Receives CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award for Collaborative Program Assisting Veterans


July 9, 2024

Pro Bono Institute has honored Gibbons P.C., along with partners PSE&G, McCarter & English, and Volunteer Lawyers for Justice (VLJ), with a CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award for their Veterans Legal Program (VLP), which assists veterans returning to civilian life with legal issues that impact their safety, security, and stability. Pro Bono Institute will present the award at its 2024 Annual Dinner on October 9 in New York City.

VLP, the first of its kind in New Jersey, provides pro bono legal services to military veterans to address driver’s license restoration, expungement, child support modification, and other legal matters. The partnership works with clients in these areas primarily through monthly, virtual legal clinics, which continue to be very successful.

The structure of the program is unique in its dual focus: It is part clinic (where clients meet with attorney volunteers to strategize, draft documents, and prepare for hearings), and part traditional representation (where on many occasions attorneys continue representation, filing motions and conducting hearings on behalf of clients, among other services).

Among those who have benefited from the program are:

  • A veteran who had difficulty restoring his driver’s license due to certain tickets on his record. At the VLJ Clinic, the attorneys and client discussed his situation and formed an action plan.
  • A veteran requesting dismissal of unpaid traffic tickets, vacation of any related fines, lifting of the associated license suspension, and cancellation of a related warrant. At the VLJ clinic, attorneys drafted a letter to the court on his behalf.
  • A Navy veteran who, following his honorable discharge, was diagnosed with PTSD and as a result of his mental health and other difficult personal circumstances was unable to resolve several traffic tickets. His pro bono team assisted him in drafting and submitting letters to municipal court justices, requesting dismissal of the open tickets in order to allow his driver’s license to be restored. This client reported, “I’m a veteran and met Mary Frances Palisano at a Volunteer Lawyers for Justice legal clinic with knowledgeable volunteer attorneys from PSE&G and Gibbons P.C. Thanks to the caring team, I left the clinic feeling hopeful that I could move my life forward in a positive way. After the clinic, Ms. Palisano stayed in touch with me and helped me follow up – I got a great result! Big thank you to VLJ, PSE&G, and Gibbons P.C. for all they did for me!”

“We are thrilled to receive this acknowledgement for the partnership’s vital work in helping military veterans as they make their transition to civilian life,” noted Ms. Palisano, Gibbons’s Pro Bono Coordinator and Chair of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee, who personally handles pro bono cases and attends pro bono clinics throughout the year. “The Gibbons Cares Pro Bono Platform has always been committed to addressing critical community needs and serving those who cannot afford legal services or are otherwise underrepresented.”

In 2022, the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey and COMMERCE magazine recognized the initiative with the highest honor in the “Caring for Veterans” category of their “Companies that Care” Awards program. This past May, they awarded Gibbons the highest honor in the program’s “Caring for Children” category for the firm’s pro bono work representing children with disabilities who have been denied special education services by their school districts. And in 2021, the Litigation Section of the American Bar Association honored Gibbons with a John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award, which recognizes, among nominated firms nationwide, “those who have made outstanding contributions to the quality of justice in their communities, ensuring that the legal system is open and available to all.”

About Pro Bono Institute

Founded in 1996, Pro Bono Institute (PBI) is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization. With an unparalleled depth of knowledge, resources and expertise, PBI is the respected resource for all things pro bono. Through our work with law firms, in-house corporate legal departments, and public interest organizations, PBI is the global thought leader in exploring, identifying, evaluating, catalyzing, and taking to scale new approaches to and resources for the provision of legal services to the poor, disadvantaged, and other individuals or groups unable to secure legal assistance to address critical problems.

About the CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award
Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO), a project of Pro Bono Institute, created the CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award to recognize innovative pro bono collaborations of in-house legal departments with law firms and public interest organizations. Over the years, the impact and innovation of the projects supported by the award recipients have been tremendously important both in the projects’ ability to address the legal needs of the communities being served and in the role the partnerships have played in supporting and furthering pro bono work, especially within the in-house community. Through these partnerships, legal departments, law firms, and public interest organizations have devised programs that contribute to the legal profession’s efforts to close the justice gap and that create strong legacies of effective pro bono service.