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Pro Bono Award Recipients Honored at Luncheon

Thursday, December 19, 2019  
Posted by: Jana Sehrer
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Those who have made outstanding pro bono efforts in our community on behalf of those in need were recently honored at the Fairfax Bar Association’s State of the Judiciary luncheon. Although all of the volunteers of the Northern Virginia Pro Bono Law Center have contributed valuable time and efforts to help others, these award winners were specially acknowledged for their efforts. The Honorable Todd Petit, Chief Judge of the Fairfax Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, did the honors in presenting the awards. 

This year, two lawyers were tied for the Northern Virginia Pro Bono Law Center’s Lawyer of the Year. The first, Theodora Stringham, assists individuals, businesses, and organizations to grow successfully while minimizing liability. Despite her busy workload, Ms. Stringham is committed to serving the community through pro bono, and serves as a regular volunteer with the Northern Virginia Pro Bono Law Center’s Neighborhood Outreach Program as well as the Employment Panel. Using her extensive litigation skills as well as her knowledge of employment law, Ms. Stringham donates her time to help others without access to legal services. Starting in 2015, Ms. Stringham contacted the Law Center to see how she could best assist. She attended trainings for both uncontested divorce representation, accepting a case immediately, as well as for the Neighborhood Outreach Program. 

Despite changes in employment, she continued her pro bono work and became increasingly involved in giving back. She has regularly volunteered at various locations, including a homeless shelter, with the expectation of providing legal advice and referral information. However, Ms. Stringham has gone beyond the basic commitment to provide additional legal assistance following the initial client meetings. In addition, Ms. Stringham, using her employment law background, has regularly volunteered to assist low-income clients experiencing employment law problems. This is particularly valuable as only lawyers practicing in this field can provide employment law pro bono assistance, greatly limiting the number of potential volunteers. 

The second Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year is Manuela Siragy, who is counsel in the Corporate Group of Crowell & Moring’s Washington, D.C. office. She concentrates her practice on mergers and acquisitions involving government contractors and various other industries.


Even though her legal training and experience involves high level transactional work for corporations, Ms. Siragy has extended herself past her comfort zone in order to help poverty and low-income clients with a variety of civil legal problems. Ms. Siragy has been an active pro bono volunteer attorney for a number of years, both in Washington, D.C. and in Northern Virginia. As a member of the Virginia Bar and a Virginia resident, she is interested in championing an expansion of pro bono efforts in Virginia. So, for the past three years, Manuela has actively participated in the Northern Virginia Pro Bono Law Center’s Neighborhood Outreach Program and has provided volunteer pro bono services at several locations, including the Herndon Neighborhood Resource Center, the Culmore Family Resource Center, Bailey’s Crossroads Homeless Shelter as well as the Lorton Community Center. Since being trained for this program in 2016, Manuela has been a steady, dedicated and loyal volunteer. In 2019 alone, she volunteered to meet with clients at various sites on 9 different occasions. Each time, she gives up her evening to go to locations throughout Fairfax County, meet with clients individually, and provide them with legal advice, which they would not otherwise be able to access. 

The Northern Virginia Pro Bono Law Center’s Law Firm of the Year award was presented to the partners of Taylor Huguley Powers, a law firm specializing in family law matters. The spirit of helping those in need runs throughout the work of the firm. 

Leigh Taylor has a long history of dedicating herself to helping those less fortunate. She has been an active volunteer with the Northern Virginia Pro Bono Law Center’s Neighborhood Outreach Program since 2004, dedicating countless evening hours to providing legal advice to low-income clients at neighborhood sites, often speaking in Spanish. Leigh has the ability to focus on the issues presented by the client, and convey both compassion and professional advice. She has gone beyond the requirements of the program by continuing to assist clients after the interview, in order to make sure that their needs are being addressed. In 2006, Leigh was one of the original participants in the Domestic Violence Attorney of the Day program, donating at least one day per quarter representing petitioners in protective order cases, assisting clients at a time when they are the most vulnerable. In addition, Leigh has regularly represented poverty clients in uncontested divorce matters, usually taking on 2 to 5 cases per year. 

Kim Huguley has been a zealous advocate for her family law clients for twenty years. Kim has been a long-term volunteer with various local groups and Bar activities. Kim has also made time for pro bono work. She has been an active volunteer with the Wills on Wheels program of the Northern Virginia Pro Bono Law Center since 2015. She has repeatedly given of herself with every client she helps. Kim has worked with low-income seniors at sites throughout the area, providing legal advice and end-of-life documents such as Wills, Powers of Attorney and Advance Medical Directives. Kim graciously and caringly deals with each senior and their individual situation to ensure that their planning needs are met. With each client and many sessions, Kim has helped craft solutions so that her clients obtain great peace of mind from knowing that their futures are in their own control.

 

Debra Powers has been devoted to representing clients in matters of family law throughout Northern Virginia for two decades. Debra has provided critical and timely legal assistance to victims of domestic violence through the Attorney of the Day program for many years. She donates one day every quarter to pursuing protective orders for those who have been abused and then need legal assistance to stay safe. She began taking pro bono domestic violence cases in 2007 and has never stopped. She is a consistent advocate for people who have been victimized, and would otherwise be without help to navigate the legal system and secure their safety. She is valued as an important resource for those seeking help through this program. 

The Fairfax Bar Association honored Joseph B. Dailey with this year’s James Keith Public Service Award, given annually to someone with a long-standing dedication to pro bono work as well as public service. For his pro bono work for domestic violence victims seeking protective orders, Joe has been named to LSNV’s 6.1 Society 4 years in a row and awarded a certificate of excellence from Legal Services of Northern Virginia in January 2017, October 2017, and October 2019. Virginia Business Legal Elite recognized his pro bono work in 2015 and 2016, and he received the Northern Virginia Harry Carrico Pro Bono Award in 2018. Joe has also participated in the LSNV attorney of the day steering committee, the Fairfax County Diversion First work group, and the Fairfax JDR transformation of juvenile justice work group. He is a member of the “Friends of Fairfax JDR” scholarship and charity fund.


Mr. Dailey volunteers with LSNV’s pro bono protective order program, Attorney of the Day. Year after year, he makes a monthly commitment to provide free legal representation, often in contested trials, to low income victims of domestic violence. Since joining the program, he has accepted approximately 70 pro bono protective order referrals and donated approximately 300 hours of work. He often accepts additional last-minute referrals and routinely mentors both staff and volunteers on cases. Year after year, Mr. Dailey is one of program’s top volunteers by accepting the most referrals and contributing the most pro bono hours. Additionally, Mr. Dailey promotes the program by offering to provide mentorship and support to both volunteer and staff attorneys. Many of the civil protective orders overlap with criminal cases, and his criminal expertise fills a gap in the experience of legal staff attorneys. Lastly, Joe Dailey regularly attends the FBA Juvenile Court committee meetings where he promotes the program and offers that new volunteers can shadow him in court.


Mr. Dailey served as a volunteer defense attorney from 2006-2012. In this role, he assisted the Drug Court Committee helping juvenile clients through the drug court program. Since 2011, Joe Dailey served as a member of the Fairfax Bar Association’s Judicial Task Force and as such, received endorsements from attorneys, arranged trips to Richmond and kept track of each member of the State Senate and House of Representatives to represent the needs of all our courts, not just Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.


All of the award winners have demonstrated that remarkable work can be done by those with the will and determination to help others, using their legal skills.


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