Gibson Dunn Announces Annual Pro Bono Award Winners

January 15, 2013

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP is pleased to announce the winners of the firm’s annual team and individual Frank Wheat Memorial Awards.  The Frank Wheat Award is given every year to lawyers in the firm who obtain significant results for their pro bono clients and demonstrate leadership and initiative that serve as inspiration to others.

This year, the team award is presented to lawyers in Gibson Dunn’s London office for their work with Lawyers Without Borders in developing an anti-corruption program in Kenya.  The individual award is presented to Washington, D.C. associate Rebecca Gray for her leadership in establishing a partnership with the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and for her own successful trial advocacy on behalf of two indigent criminal defendants.

“We are proud to recognize the exceptional work of the 2012 Frank Wheat award winners,” said Ken Doran, Chairman and Managing Partner of Gibson Dunn.  “These lawyers embody our firm’s commitment to pro bono service and serve as a model to us all.”

“In 2012, our attorneys handled a wide range of pro bono matters – from helping a Los Angeles science museum in negotiations with NASA to transfer ownership of the retired space shuttle Endeavour to assisting a public charter preschool in Northeast D.C. to open its doors and provide free, pre-literacy education to underprivileged children and to defending civil rights in sexual-orientation discrimination cases,” said Scott Edelman, Chair of Gibson Dunn’s Pro Bono Committee.  “The dedication of our lawyers and their pro bono successes are truly inspiring.”

About the Team Award Project – Lawyers Without Borders

A team of Gibson Dunn’s London lawyers played a key role in the firm’s partnership with Lawyers Without Borders (LWOB) to develop a program to deliver trial advocacy and international corruption training to Kenyan magistrates, prosecutors, NGO lawyers and private practitioners.

Gibson Dunn lawyers designed the program and prepared all the training materials, which required the team to gain a thorough understanding in Kenyan criminal law and procedure, relating not only to corruption enforcement, but also broader legal topics, such as the law of evidence.  The team reviewed all reported Kenyan criminal cases from 1980 to 2012 and analyzed all relevant statutory and constitutional provisions.  The project culminated in a one-week training program in August 2012 in Nairobi, which included trainers from the federal judiciary, among others.

For the program, the Gibson Dunn team created a detailed set of legal materials that included all relevant Kenyan statutes and case law, a set of rapid reference cards that provided high-level summaries of relevant Kenyan statutes, and a presentation on international and Kenyan anti-corruption law and enforcement delivered by Gibson Dunn associates.  The cornerstone of the training program featured a mock trial scenario designed by the team.

The Gibson Dunn team was drawn from four offices – London, New York, Munich and Denver.  London partner Patrick Doris and associate Mark Handley led the London team, which included associate Kristy Grant, Sunita Patel, Cameron Barlow and Assiya Shalabeyeva.  Also on the team were New York partner Joel Cohen and associates Sapna Desai, David Wolber and Andrew Sherman; Munich partner Benno Schwarz and associates Lauren Reynolds and Robin Eyben; Denver associate Scott Campbell, as well as a number of summer associates.

About the Individual Award Project – Rebecca Gray

Washington, D.C. associate Rebecca Gray is recognized for her leadership in developing a criminal pro bono program that provides D.C. associates with hands-on courtroom experience. 

As a result of Gray’s leadership, the firm has formed a partnership with the Federal Public Defender for the Eastern District of Virginia, and thus far, two dozen Gibson Dunn attorneys have contributed over 1,500 pro bono hours to the defense of six different clients of the Public Defender’s Office.  Gibson Dunn associates have argued motions in federal court and have second-chaired jury trials through this partnership.

Gray herself represented two indigent criminal defendants securing a complete acquittal at the close of a three-day jury trial for one client and a significantly reduced sentence for another client who pled guilty.

About the Frank Wheat Award

The award is named for the late Frank Wheat, a Gibson Dunn partner who was deeply committed to community service and pro bono work.  A recognized leader in corporate transactions, Wheat served as a commissioner of the Securities Exchange Commission and as president of the Los Angeles County Bar.  He also founded the Alliance for Children’s Rights and served as founder and trustee of the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, a leader of the Sierra Club, and a board member of the Center of Law in the Public Interest, which established a fellowship in his name to train young lawyers in public interest litigation.  The award recipients receive $2,500 to be donated to a pro bono organization of their choice.