The Suffolk Pro Bono Project is pleased to honor Margarett Williams as its Pro Bono Attorney of the Month for October. This is the second time Ms. Williams has earned this distinction. It is her constant dedication to the Project over the past six years that has earned her this recognition once again.
Ms. Williams is the Director of Employer Relations at Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center. Despite the many demands of her position at Touro, she routinely handles multiple pro bono matrimonial referrals at one time. She also mentors the Project’s new attorneys whenever called upon to do so.
Legal practice and career counseling is Ms. Williams’ second career. After graduating summa cum lade from Adelphi University in 1995, she spent 17 years in corporate human resources and training, working for a $1.5 billion corporation. She obtained certification in human resource management from Cornell University. While still working full-time in corporate training, Ms. Williams attended Touro Law Center as a night student and in four years earned her J.D.
After graduating from Touro in 2005, Ms. Williams briefly practiced employment law at a small firm before deciding to join Winkler, Kurtz, Winkler and Kuhn. It is there that she first became exposed to matrimonial and family law. She credits Jim Winkler, her mentor at the firm, for inspiring her to do pro bono work with the Project.
Ms. Williams returned to Touro Law Center in 2008. Upon arriving there she made it clear that continuing her matrimonial pro bono work was extremely important to her. The law center has had three deans since she was hired and all have been highly supportive of Ms. Williams pro bono work.
“I’ve always felt it’s important as an attorney that I give back by helping those who can’t afford to hire a lawyer,” Ms. Williams said. She also finds that her pro bono work enhances the service she provides her Touro students. “It gives extra credibility to my counseling because I’m still working with clients and I’m still in court.”
The relationships she’s made with opposing counsel in her pro bono cases has also led to internships, externships and post-graduate employment for several of her students. Ms. Williams is proud of the services her office provides, noting the employment rate of Touro’s 2017 graduates was the best in the law school’s history. (The American Bar Association’s deadline for submission of the 2018 graduates is March 2019, and the results to date are encouraging.)
It’s her recent experiences with Touro students that make Ms. Williams hopeful for the future of pro bono.
“Students in law school these days seem to have more community service experience and greater enthusiasm for volunteering than I’ve ever seen before,” she noted. “It’s really interesting how many of them have this pre-formed sensibility of the need to give back once they’re out and practicing.”
The Pro Bono Project is extremely grateful for Ms. Williams’s efforts to promote pro bono at Touro, for the example she has set for her students by regularly assisting the Project, and for the zealous and effective representation she has provided each of her pro bono clients. It is with tremendous pleasure that we again honor Margarett Williams 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 toward 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, providing 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 Ellen Krakow, Esq. 631 232-2400 x 3323.