The Human Trafficking Legal Center Honors Pro Bono Attorneys &
Survivor Advocates at Third Annual On My Side Awards
On Thursday, October 17, The Human Trafficking Legal Center welcomed legal professionals, anti-trafficking experts, and community leaders to celebrate the Third Annual On My Side Awards. The event, created three years ago to honor the courageous survivors of human trafficking and the outstanding legal advocates who stand beside them, was a success!
This year, HT Legal honored Dechert LLP as the 2019 Advocacy Firm of the Year. This award honors a law firm that has shown extraordinary commitment to legal advocacy and research to support the rights of trafficking survivors. Dechert has done heroic anti-trafficking pro bono work, both litigation and research. In 2018, the firm worked closely with HT Legal to create a toolkit on using CEDAW’s Optional Protocol to combat human trafficking of women and girls. The firm has also successfully litigated multiple domestic servitude cases against diplomats. Suzanne Turner, Partner and Chair of Dechert’s firm-wide pro bono practice, accepted the award on the firm’s behalf.
In honor of their exceptional skill in securing justice for survivors of sex trafficking and forced labor, HT Legal honored Fish & Richardson as the 2019 Litigation Firm of the Year. HT Legal applauded the firm’s remarkable victory in Alfaro v. Gandy. Led by Andrew Kopsidas, the team of pro bono attorneys at Fish & Richardson won $1.43 million in damages in a sex trafficking pro bono civil suit. The team dedicated hundreds of pro bono hours to the civil case and won. Andrew Kopsidas, Principal and team leader on the case, accepted the award on Fish & Richardson’s behalf.
This year, HT Legal introduced a new award to honor a single advocate who has gone above and beyond to provide pro bono services to survivors. We were thrilled to announce Robert Levine, Director in the Dispute Consulting Group at Stout, as the 2019 Champion of the Year. Levine made significant contributions to the field through his exemplary expert reports in trafficking criminal and civil cases. These submissions maximized the amount of restitution that trafficking survivors received. Levine has completed at least fifteen of these reports all pro bono. He continues to partner with firms to submit restitution and damages reports to the federal courts. HT Legal congratulates Robert Levine on this honor.
Martina Vandenberg, HT Legal Founder and President, highlighted successes in the anti-trafficking field over the past year, including the historic decision by the U.S. Department of State to suspend a country’s A-3 visa privileges in response to a civil trafficking case. She also announced HT Legal’s partnership with AYUDA and HEAL Trafficking to launch the city’s first ever hospital training on human trafficking at The George Washington University Hospital. She spoke of the joy of reuniting trafficking survivors with their children through T visas.
The evening provided an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the courageous survivors who put their faith in the rule of law. That trust is matched by the dedication of the pro bono legal advocates by their side. Champion of the Year Robert Levine noted in his written acceptance remarks, “I would like to express my appreciation to the survivors here with us tonight who have shared their experiences, and to those I have had the privilege of working with through HT Legal. Their strength, courage, and commitment to justice is truly an inspiration.”
The Human Trafficking Legal Center thanks all who have partnered with us to seek justice for survivors of human trafficking. And thanks to all of you for joining us at the Third Annual On My Side Awards.
Barbara J. Cooperman*
Susan Petersen Kennedy*
Andy & Nonie Prozes
*Member of the Board
**Member of Associate Committee
Fish & Richardson
Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
Latham & Watkins, LLP
The Morrison & Foerster Foundation
Ropes & Gray LLP
Andy & Nonie Prozes
Stout Risius Ross, LLC
Susan Petersen Kennedy
Barbara J. Cooperman
E. Benjamin Skinner
Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP
Outten & Golden LLP
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
The George Washington University Hospital
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Chef Pablo Catalan
MADabolic Gym – Arlington
Shop Made in DC
Washington Improv Theater