Legal Aid is pleased to honor Aryeh S. Portnoy as the 2011 recipient of the Klepper Prize for Volunteer Excellence. The Klepper Prize was created through the generosity of Martin and Arlene Klepper in order to recognize an attorney early in his or her career who has made a significant volunteer contribution to the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia. Aryeh will accept the award at Legal Aid’s Servant of Justice Awards Dinner, scheduled for Thursday, April 28, 2011 at the JW Marriott Hotel. Brooksley E. Born, of Arnold & Porter, and The Honorable Thomas E. Perez, of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, will be honored at the same event.
Throughout his career, Aryeh has maintained an active pro bono practice, representing indigent parents and children in contested custody actions. To date, Aryeh has handled more than 25 contested custody cases, many of them referred by Legal Aid. Moreover, he has served as a mentor and supervisor on additional contested custody cases that Legal Aid has referred to Aryeh’s colleagues at the firm. Aryeh’s expertise has allowed the firm as a whole to not only take on more custody cases from Legal Aid, but also to tackle more complex cases that are difficult to place with pro bono counsel. Aryeh also frequently has been appointed by District of Columbia Superior Court Judges to serve as Guardian ad Litem for children at the core of these disputes.
Aryeh has written on the importance of taking on pro bono custody matters and, in 2009, delivered an address on this topic as the Keynote Speaker for the Washington Council of Lawyers’ Pro Bono Fair. In his article "Family Matters; Why You Should Take a Custody Case," written for an American Bar Association Publication, he wrote:
There are few things in this world more important than protecting the lives and well-being of our youngest generation. Many of these children deserve better than what the wheel of fortune has spun out for them, and that same wheel has limited their opportunities for making a better life. A custody case presents an attorney with the often-unique circumstance of not only advocating zealously on behalf of a client, but truly assessing the larger picture of the life of a child in developing and recommending creative solutions to make that life better.
A graduate of New York University School of Law, Aryeh is a member of Crowell & Moring’s Litigation Group where he specializes in complex cross-border and domestic litigation in U.S. state and federal trial and appellate courts. He has counseled and represented corporate, non-profit, and individual clients as well as foreign and domestic government agencies and officials in all phases of litigation.
Through his work on behalf of low-income clients needing assistance with child custody disputes, Aryeh has more than demonstrated the volunteer commitment and leadership that the Klepper Prize is designed to recognize. We look forward to presenting him with the award on April 28.