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Shipman & Goodwin LLP recognized three lawyers for their outstanding pro bono contributions and presented them with awards at the Lawyers’ Retreat which took place on September 14th at Goodwin University’s King Court Housing Complex in East Hartford. Keegan Drenosky, Vaughan Finn, and Sarah Westby were each awarded the inaugural Shipman Pro Bono Award, which included a $500 donation by the firm to a legal organization of each recipient’s choice.

Having served as the firm’s Pro Bono Coordinator for many years, Vaughan Finn received the award in recognition of her longstanding and dedicated commitment to pro bono work, and for inspiring and encouraging others to pursue pro bono work. It was announced, in honor of Vaughan’s legacy, that, going forward, the annual award would be known as the “Vaughan Finn Pro Bono Award.”

Keegan Drenosky was chosen to receive the inaugural Vaughan Finn Pro Bono Award for her outstanding commitment to pro bono work in the community surrounding Stamford, Connecticut. Keegan provided numerous hours of pro-bono representation, assisting local non-profit clients with personnel issues and revisions to their employee handbooks and policies, in addition to handling several matters on a pro bono basis in the Connecticut District Court. In addition, Keegan has assisted the Artist’s Collective in Hartford, the Darien Arts Center, and the Mill River Collaborative in Stamford, providing legal assistance on their behalf. As a member of the United Way of Western Connecticut’s Human Resources Committee, she provided legal advice in employment and other areas of the law in order to assist the organization to increase access for affordable care and education, healthy food, and tools for financial stability to families in need in Fairfield County.

Sarah Westby also received the inaugural Vaughan Finn Pro Bono Award in recognition of her extraordinary efforts in providing pro bono legal representation. Sarah serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors for Simply Smiles, Inc., a not-for-profit organization that builds villages of foster homes in Native communities. She helped secure a land lease for a new village on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation in South Dakota, where Simply Smiles is building a first-of-its-kind intentional community of foster families for Native children. Significantly, Sarah created an employment structure to professionalize the organization’s foster parenting program by crafting complex, unique job descriptions, employment agreements, and housing agreements, to address the specific needs of Native foster children and the demands of living on the Reservation. Sarah also successfully represented a Pakistani woman attending college in the U.S. who sought political asylum in the U.S. after being threatened by her family abroad and demanded that she return to Pakistan for an arranged marriage.

Upon receiving the award, Sarah remarked, “Thank you so much for this tremendous honor. I am constantly impressed by the results that Shipman attorneys achieve for our pro bono clients, the time and dedication that our attorneys give to those cases, and the support of the management team.”

At Shipman, we believe that all people, regardless of their economic status, should have equal access to legal representation. We are proud of the unwavering commitment Shipman has made to providing pro bono legal services to those who are poor, underrepresented, or otherwise in need. Lawyers at all levels in our firm are encouraged to use their skills and experience for the benefit of the community and to find opportunities to help those who need our assistance the most. We staff and resource our pro bono matters with the same level of excellence and commitment that we bring to all our client work.