The Missouri Bar annually presents Pro Bono Publico Awards to four persons or organizations – one each from the St. Louis and Kansas City areas and two from outstate Missouri – who have, within the past year, rendered outstanding pro bono service to indigent or low-income persons in need of legal assistance. This year, during The Missouri Bar Foundation and Public Service Awards Luncheon, Sept. 21, 2016, at the Lodge of Four Seasons in Lake Ozark, The Missouri Bar honored Mary J. Browning, Jonathan Dilly, Marsha I. Stiles and Stinson Leonard Street.
Mary J. Browning, senior attorney at Mary J. Browning LLC in Jefferson City, is a passionate advocate for children and families and contributes pro bono work through the Samaritan Center Legal Care program.
“One of the best things is partnering with the people that have a real heart for what needs to happen legally, but don’t have the funds to pay for it and really the experience maybe to navigate the legal system. So that’s been my draw and my delight in working with the pro bono clients,” said Browning.
As a shareholder in Slagle, Bernard & Gorman P.C. in Kansas City, Dilly practices business, real estate and tax law, and those skills roll into his pro bono efforts with the Volunteer Attorney Project through Legal Aid of Western Missouri, where, among other work, he represents tenants in eviction cases and property transfers.
“It does bring a lot of satisfaction because this is something that, from their perspective, means a great deal,” Dilly said.
At the Midwest Center for Law & Justice in Springfield, Stiles represents individuals, companies and institutions in complex litigation and at the appellate level, but she also takes the time to go above and beyond to assist clients with matters that are not directly related to her cases.
“I like to be a holistic attorney,” Stiles said during an interview about her recognition. “When you have a legal problem, it doesn’t affect just one area of your life and you have to look at the domino effect into the other areas.”
The law firm of Stinson Leonard Street is also committed to giving back to the communities it calls home. The firm participates in the Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge, where three percent of the firm’s total billable hours are donated to pro bono. The firm has locations in Kansas City, St. Louis and Jefferson City and has actively worked with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri’s Volunteer Lawyer Program, the KCMBA Pro Bono Project and the Midwest Innocence Project, among other initiatives.
“Pro bono service has for many years been a core value of our firm,” said Mark Hinderks, managing partner in the firm’s Kansas City office. “Last year, Stinson Leonard Street spent 21,000 hours of pro bono time – about $8 million worth of donated time – and 95 percent of that was related to services to the indigent or to charitable organizations who serve the indigent, so we try to focus on those who need the service the most.”
Click here for video footage of these recipients discussing their work.