November 1, 2023

Willkie and six of its attorneys have been awarded The Legal Aid Society’s 2023 Pro Bono Publico honors for outstanding achievements in pro bono service.

Wesley R. Powell, Co-Chair of Willkie’s Pro Bono Practice Group, was recognized for his leadership in pro bono advocacy and his commitment to defending the rights of low-income New Yorkers. He received The Public Interest Law Leadership Award in recognition of “his extraordinary contributions as a volunteer attorney, for his constant support of Legal Aid and its clients, and as a leader of Willkie’s outstanding pro bono program and [Co-Chair] of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee.”

The Legal Aid Society highlighted Wes’s recent success leading a Willkie team that won a landmark settlement in Ciaramella et. al. v. Bassett that will provide up to five million New Yorkers access to dental care previously not covered by Medicaid. The lawsuit, brought by Willkie alongside The Legal Aid Society and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, challenged New York State’s restrictions on Medicaid coverage for medically necessary dental care. The Legal Aid Society noted that Wes has previously received Pro Bono Publico Awards six times in the course of his longstanding partnership with the organization.

The class action litigation was widely covered in the news media, and Wes’s award for his leadership in the case was also reported in New York Law Journal

The Legal Aid Society also awarded Pro Bono Publico honors to five Willkie attorneys for excellence in pro bono service, including three associates on Wes’s team who helped secure the historic settlement.

The Pro Bono Publico honorees are:

  • Counsel Conrad Bahlke
  • Associate M. Annie Houghton-Larsen
  • Associate Sean Lavin
  • Associate Timothy Ryan
  • Senior Counsel Bart Schwartz

Read about the Ciaramella case here and in The New York Times here (subscription may be required).

View The Public Interest Law Leadership Award for Wesley Powell here.