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Vedder Thinking | News Vedder Price 2020 Pro Bono Awards

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On February 2, 2021 Vedder Price’s Pro Bono Committee held a virtual reception to recognize the attorneys and paralegals who dedicated their time to pro bono service in 2020, to draw attention to the important causes in which we partner in our communities, and encourage more pro bono service in 2021. Attorneys and paralegals who reached various milestones were recognized at both an office level as well as on an all-firm level.

The Pro Bono Committee, led by Co-Chairs Michelle Olson and Patrick Spangler, honored those who dedicated the most time to pro bono work in 2020, and those who act as advocates of the pro bono program and encourage involvement from others. The Pro Bono Committee oversees the firm’s pro bono activities and works to develop relationships with pro bono agencies around the world.

Due to the extraordinary need for provision of legal services to those unable to pay, our lawyers are committed to fulfilling their professional obligation to provide pro bono legal services to the communities in which they operate. In 2020, Vedder Price attorneys and paralegals performed 8,790 hours of pro bono legal services, a 22% increase from 2019 and a 54% increase from 2018.

We are proud to recognize the attorneys and paralegals named below for their outstanding commitment to providing pro bono legal assistance to those in need. This year, the Pro Bono Committee also recognized our Los Angeles Office as the winner of our first annual Pro Bono Champion Award, which is awarded to the office with the highest number of pro bono hours per attorney. The LA Office averaged 50.66 pro bono hours per attorney. As the winner, the LA Office will receive the traveling award to display in the office and earns bragging rights for the next year.

All Firm Awards

Most Pro Bono Hours – All Firm – Shareholder – Brett Heinrich

Mr. Heinrich dedicated most of his pro bono time to the Tree Research and Education Endowment Fund, which identifies and funds programs that support the discovery and dissemination of new knowledge in arboriculture and urban forestry. In addition to funding scientific research related to tree care and urban forestry, TREE Fund also supports student scholarships in this area and environmental educational programs for children and adults.

Mr. Heinrich also provided pro bono counsel to the Environmental Health & Safety Audit Center, which advances the professional practice of auditing in the environmental health and safety field.

Most Pro Bono Hours – All Firm – Associate –Ryan Helgeson

Mr. Helgeson contributed a tremendous amount of time to pro bono immigration matters, including a number of pro bono clients who are seeking asylum in the United States. Mr. Helgeson also continues to act as an invaluable resource for others at the firm who are working on pro bono immigration matters. In addition to his tremendous efforts related to immigration asylum matters, Mr. Helgeson also provided pro bono advice to United Cerebral Palsy and worked as the guardian ad litem for a minor who is a ward of the state.

Most Pro Bono Hours – All Firm – Paralegal – Fernando Torres

Mr. Torres assisted several pro bono clients who are seeking asylum in the United States. Notably, Mr. Torres was on the team (including Jeanah Park, Kareem Ratani and Gabe Anello) that helped a couple and their three children from Honduras receive asylum in the United States. The father, a former police officer and chief of police in Honduras, brought his family to the United States to protect them from retribution for his efforts to combat gang violence in their country.


Significant Pro Bono Contributors by Office


  • Jeanah Park – Shareholder
  • Ryan Burandt – Associate
  • Rita Mahoney – Paralegal


  • Jonathan Edgelow – Associate

Los Angeles

  • Anthony Pacheco – Shareholder
  • Nate Wright – Associate

New York

  • Jonathan Wexler – Shareholder
  • Victoria Jaus – Associate

San Francisco

  • Scott Olson – Shareholder
  • Mindy Wong – Associate

Washington, D.C.

  • Amy Bess – Shareholder
  • Aleksandra Rybicki – Associate
  • Jonathan Rauch – Associate