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Duane Morris Names New Leaders of Firm's Pro Bono Program

January 20, 2015

Duane Morris Names New Leaders of Firm's Pro Bono Program

January 20, 2015

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Valentine Brown and Katharyn Christian McGee Will Lead Firm's Growing Initiative

Valentine Brown
Valentine Brown

Katharyn Christian McGee
Christian McGee

PHILADELPHIA, January 20, 2015—Duane Morris LLP is pleased to announce new leadership of its firmwide Pro Bono Program. Valentine A. Brown as Pro Bono Partner and Katharyn I. Christian McGee as Associate Pro Bono Counsel will direct pro bono initiatives at the firm.

Valentine A. Brown, who joined Duane Morris in 2009, is an immigration law partner in the firm's Employment, Labor, Benefits and Immigration Practice Group in Philadelphia who focuses her practice on employment-based immigration. She will continue her immigration law practice alongside her new pro bono responsibilities.

Brown is an active and longstanding member of the firm's Pro Bono Committee and also serves in a number of related roles. Since 2009, Brown has been Co-Chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Philadelphia Chapter Pro Bono Committee. She co-leads AILA's annual city-wide drive to provide pro bono assistance to immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship. Brown is the founder of the firm's Violence Against Women Act pro bono practice group and regularly mentors and trains attorneys who participate in Immigration IMPACT, a city-wide initiative in collaboration with the Association of Pro Bono Counsel (APBCo) to increase access to legal services for immigrant survivors of domestic violence.

Brown is a facilitator for the Duane Morris Institute, the firm's institute offering courses and webinars on human resources, employment and labor topics. She is teaching courses on I-9 Compliance, E-Verify and other business-related immigration topics. She previously was a partner at the former WolfBlock LLP and previously managed her own immigration law firm for eight years. Brown is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law and a graduate of the University of Delaware.

Katharyn Christian McGee, also based in the firm's Philadelphia office, has served since 2012 as the firm's Pro Bono Coordinator/Manager and will now assume a new role of Associate Pro Bono Counsel. Since joining Duane Morris in 2012, McGee has developed and implemented several pro bono initiatives to aid human trafficking survivors, provide estate planning and civil legal assistance for oncology patients and families and ensure legal representation for immigrant survivors of abuse. She similarly leads the firm's pro bono efforts through APBCo IMPACT and its efforts on behalf of veterans. Her pro bono practice primarily focuses on family law and representation on behalf of domestic violence survivors.

McGee has worked with the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, among other pro bono legal services organizations. Before joining Duane Morris, she was an Associate Pro Bono Fellow at Hunton & Williams LLP. She has received numerous honors for her public interest work. McGee is an honors graduate of the University of Alabama Law School with a Certificate in Public Interest Law, where she was editor-in-chief of The Journal of the Legal Profession. She also is a graduate of Vanderbilt University, where was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Nicole Friant, who successfully led the firm's Pro Bono Program for the past seven years, left Duane Morris at the end of 2014 for new opportunities outside the legal industry on the West Coast.

"I am very pleased that Valentine will serve as our Pro Bono Partner and also that Katharyn will have a new and expanded role in our Pro Bono Program," said John J. Soroko, Chairman and CEO of Duane Morris. "Valentine and Katharyn are an excellent leadership team that will keep our Pro Bono Program on the upward path we have been on for a number of years. We are becoming a major contributor of legal services to some really outstanding causes and legal services organizations."

Duane Morris provides pro bono legal assistance through all 20 of the firm's U.S. offices and many of its international offices. Notable recent highlights include:

  • More than 85 volunteers dedicated more than 3,350 hours of pro bono legal assistance to aid more than 40 survivors of human trafficking and intimate partner violence.
  • Associate Kenneth Franklin was honored with the 2014 Domestic Violence Project Volunteer of the Year Award from the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation. Franklin represented 23 survivors in the past two years in various civil legal matters.
  • Michael D. Grohman, chair of the firm's Wealth Planning Practice Group and managing partner of the firm's New York office, was honored with an inaugural Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS) Male Allies Award for his leadership in the movement to end the domestic trafficking of women and girls.
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles honored Duane Morris and Cyndie Chang, managing partner of the Los Angeles office, with the 2014 Pro Bono Service Award, commending the firm for its "critical pro bono support to Advancing Justice – L.A.'s advocate for diversity and inclusion in San Gabriel Valley and the Greater Los Angeles area."
  • Some 100 volunteers dedicated more than 4,800 hours to assist 75 immigrants and families fleeing abuse and neglect, as well as seeking lawful status in the U.S.
  • The firm likewise was honored with the 2012 Pro Bono Publico Award from LatinoJustice Puerto Rican Legal Defense (PRLDEF).
  • Some 50 volunteers dedicated 1,000 pro bono hours to assist veterans and service members seeking disability benefits, compensation for combat injuries, and other relief.
  • In almost every Duane Morris office, volunteers provide pro bono legal assistance to non-profits, charities and low-income artists and microentrepreneurs serving Duane Morris communities and furthering economic development in low-income neighborhoods.
  • Partner Jim Holman was honored as the 2014 Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia's Volunteer of the Year.

About Duane Morris

Duane Morris LLP, a law firm with more than 700 attorneys in offices across the United States and internationally, is asked by a broad array of clients to provide innovative solutions to today's legal and business challenges.