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Legal Aid of Nebraska honors Kutak Rock Law Firm, American National Bank, and two local private attorneys with inaugural Equal Justice Awards

Omaha, NE – All that Legal Aid of Nebraska’s staff and volunteers do to “make equal justice happen” for struggling low-income Nebraskans is a result of hundreds of partnerships, which come in all shapes and sizes. Through its free legal services, Legal Aid strives to provide every eligible low-income Nebraskan (as many as one-fifth of Nebraska’s population) high-quality civil legal assistance. With the help and support of these friends and partners, Legal Aid is meeting that challenge.

To recognize these remarkable partners, the inaugural Friends of Legal Aid Awards Luncheon was held September 12 at Happy Hollow Country Club in Omaha. During the luncheon, the first Equal Justice Awards were presented to recognize partners who have made particularly significant and noteworthy contributions to the shared goal of equal justice for all.

Kutak Rock LLP:  The inaugural Law Firm Partner Equal Justice Award honored Kutak Rock.  This award recognizes Kutak Rock’s long-lasting partnership with Legal Aid.  Kutak Rock is a leading national law firm that not only sees support for equal justice for all as an ethical obligation, but also as a clarion call for action in the legal profession. Since its founding, this commitment to equal justice has been a part of Kutak Rock’s DNA. This legacy of the firm’s founders, including major roles in the early development of the Legal Aid Society and a broadening of civil legal aid — not just across Nebraska but also nationwide — has continued through today’s leadership. Kutak Rock continues to devote countless attorney hours to pro bono representation, low-income community development, and other volunteer opportunities.

American National Bank: The inaugural Community Partner Equal Justice Award was presented to American National Bank. This award recognizes American National Bank’s corporate commitment to providing significant staff time and financial resources to supporting an exceptional range of community services, including Legal Aid. American National Bank’s leadership have long recognized the value of widespread community prosperity, and how low-income community members are greatly benefited by high quality legal representation. American National Bank also consistently promotes within the business and philanthropic community these keys to community health. Time and again, American National Bank has been a valued partner with Legal Aid, supporting our service to low-income families.

Mark Laughlin of Fraser Stryker and David Cripe of Hauptman O’Brien Wolf & Lathrop: The inaugural Attorney Partner Equal Justice Awards were presented to Mark Laughlin and David Cripe. These successful Omaha private attorneys were recognized for their leadership and involvement in helping hundreds of low-income refugees displaced from the Yale Park Apartments one year ago. These families were forced to live in unsafe, unhealthy, and unacceptable conditions. Recognizing their sophisticated legal skills would be of great help to these families, Mark and David stepped forward to lend a hand in this fight against injustice. Working in partnership with Legal Aid, Family Housing Advisory Services, and other community partners, they have initiated powerful legal actions demanding accountability and future change to improve our community.

“As most know, Legal Aid’s line of work is not always quick, easy, pretty, or painless, but it makes a real difference to those in need,” said the Honorable Patrick Rogers, President of Legal Aid’s Board of Directors. “The work done is so important, and so effective. Recognizing these remarkable partners for all they do has been an honor for all of us associated with Legal Aid.”

This first Friends of Legal Aid luncheon also featured a stirring keynote from Professor Peter Edelman of Georgetown Law, a noted expert and leader on poverty and the role of civil legal aid. Professor Edelman described the advances being made in the District of Columbia and legal issues, such as the criminalization of poverty, now demanding attention.

View the photo gallery from the luncheon here:



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