November 05, 2008

Baker & Daniels Attorneys Providing Pro Bono Service to Holocaust Survivors

Baker & Daniels LLP is working with the Bet Tzedek Holocaust Survivors Justice Network to provide pro bono legal services to Indiana's over 200 Holocaust survivors. More than 40 lawyers in the firm's Indiana offices have completed training and are committed to participate in Baker & Daniels' most recent pro bono project.

Bet Tzedek's Holocaust Survivors Justice Network operates legal clinics in major cities across the United States to provide free legal services to Holocaust survivors seeking German "Ghetto Work" reparations. The organization partnered with the law firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips to establish the Justice Network in 2007 in response to the German government's creation of a new reparations program that provides a one-time payment of  €2,000 (approximately $3,100 U.S.) to Holocaust survivors who worked while living in a German-controlled Ghetto.

"We're very excited about this opportunity to partner with the Jewish Community Center, Bet Tzedek and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips to bring this unique service to Indiana's Holocaust survivors," said Carl Pebworth, Baker & Daniels partner and pro bono committee chair. "Baker & Daniels is always looking for ways to serve the community, and the Holocaust Survivors Program is an opportunity to reach out to a group of Hoosiers who will benefit greatly from the help our attorneys can provide."

Baker & Daniels serves as Indiana's coordinating law firm for this project and is working with Bet Tzedek and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips to assist survivors in preparing and completing the application to access the reparations benefit. Baker & Daniels also helped develop the Indiana-based partnership with the Indianapolis Jewish Community Center and Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis among other organizations to support the Bet Tzedek program.

Of Baker & Daniels commitment to assisting Bet Tzedek in providing services to Holocaust survivors, Mitchell A. Kamin, the organization's president and chief executive officer, said, "We are tremendously grateful to Baker & Daniels for supporting and encouraging their attorneys to serve and help expand this national pro bono effort to Indiana."

The Holocaust Survivors Justice Network (HSJN) is a national coalition of more than 90 law firms and corporate legal departments, as well as 30 Jewish social service agencies, organized to provide resources and dignity to survivors. Created by Bet Tzedek in partnership with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP, the program is the first nationally coordinated effort — operating in 30 cities throughout the United States — supporting survivors' Reparation claim-filing needs. The initiative was organized in response to the Ghetto Work Payment Program enacted by the German government in October 2007, which provides a one-time payment of €2,000 (approximately $3,100 U.S.) to Holocaust survivors who performed "voluntary" work in German-controlled ghettos during World War II.

Founded in 1974, Bet Tzedek's mission is to ensure "equal justice for all." One of the nation's premier public interest law firms, Bet Tzedek — "The House of Justice" in Hebrew — provides free legal services in matters involving consumer rights, elder law, housing, public benefits and workers' rights to low-income, disabled and elderly residents of all racial and religious backgrounds. Bet Tzedek is renowned as one of a handful of agencies in the world to offer free legal help to Holocaust survivors on a wide range of issues, including reparations, pensions and benefits offered by Germany and other European countries.

Manatt, Phelps &  Phillips LLP, a national law and consulting firm, is the national directing law firm of the Bet Tzedek Holocaust Survivors Justice Network. Under the leadership of Manatt senior attorney Stanley W. Levy and with the involvement of lawyers in the each of the firm's offices across the country, Manatt has been instrumental in developing this important effort. In addition to the Holocaust Survivors Justice Network, Manatt, working through legal services and public interest law firms throughout the country, provides tens of thousands of hours of pro bono legal services each year to qualified low-income individuals and small-community nonprofit organizations, and is ranked among the top pro bono programs in the nation.

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