The Suffolk Pro Bono Project is pleased to honor William M. Gearty as its Pro Bono Attorney of the Month. Mr. Gearty has a particularly distinguished record of pro bono bankruptcy representation and has received this award from the Pro Bono Project previously along with a similar award for his work as a Law Guardian. His enduring commitment to doing his part for Suffolk County residents in need earns him this distinction once again.
After receiving his undergraduate degree from Catholic University in Washington in 1978, Mr. Gearty worked at the White House as Assistant to the Staff Secretary. Following a six-month stint with the Democratic National Committee during the 1980 general election, he entered Albany Law School of Union University, receiving his J.D. in 1983. Before starting his own firm in Nesconset in 2006, Mr. Gearty practiced for the Automobile Club of New York, the Legal Aid Society in Hauppauge, and a local law firm. His practice in Nesconset today focuses on federal bankruptcy litigation, asset protection, military disciplinary proceedings, and maritime personal injury.
Now in his twentieth year of providing pro bono services to Long Islanders with unmet legal needs, Mr. Gearty displays an extraordinary commitment to public service. He has represented over 125 individuals in their bankruptcy proceedings and attempts to take seven bankruptcy cases each year on a pro bono basis. “Many people look at pro bono work as work that’s unpaid and unglorified, but the satisfaction you get from your clients more than makes up for the lack of financial compensation,” he said in a recent interview. Mr. Gearty was moved by one particularly grateful client whose small token of holiday cookies expressed her appreciation for Mr. Gearty’s representation. Maria Dosso, Nassau Suffolk Law Services’ Director of Communications and Volunteer Services notes, “Mr. Gearty can always be relied on to accept a bankruptcy referral on a regular basis. His generosity and ongoing participation in the Pro Bono Project exemplifies the true spirit of pro bono.”
In addition to his pro bono bankruptcy work, Mr. Gearty is an instructor for the U.S. Coast Guard and is a member of the Admissions Management and Advisory Board at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. The Board counsels the Academy’s admissions officers in their search for the next generation of Coast Guard officers. He is also a member of the Suffolk County Bar Association.
Mr. Gearty has three children. His daughter Briana is attending graduate school to become a physician’s assistant. His oldest son, Ian, is working towards practicing as an electrician. Younger Alexander studies journalism at Suffolk County Community College.
William M. Gearty’s pro bono representation of bankruptcy clients underscores his dedication to help less fortunate Long Islanders resolve their legal problems. It is with great pride and gratitude that we honor him as Pro Bono Attorney of the Month.
The Suffolk Pro Bono Project is a joint effort of Nassau Suffolk Law Services, the Suffolk County Bar Association and the Suffolk County Pro Bono Foundation who for many years have joined resources towards the goal of providing free legal assistance to Suffolk County residents who are dealing with economic hardship. Nassau Suffolk Law Services is a non profit civil legal services agency funded primarily by the Legal Services Corporation to provide free legal assistance to Long Islanders, primarily in the areas of benefits advocacy, homelessness prevention (foreclosure and eviction defense), access to health care, and services to special populations such as domestic violence victims, disabled, and adult home resident. The provision of free services is prioritized based on financial need and funding is often inadequate in these areas. Furthermore, there is no funding for the general provision of matrimonial or bankruptcy representation, therefore the demand for pro bono assistance is the greatest in these areas. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Maria Dosso, Esq. 631 232-2400 x 3369.