HARRISBURG (April 24, 2014) — The Pennsylvania Bar Association Young Lawyers Division will present its Michael K. Smith Excellence in Service Award to Michael A. Santanasto of Bethlehem during the state association’s Annual Meeting on May 15 at the Hershey Lodge, Hershey.
The award is named in memory of a young Philadelphia lawyer committed to providing legal services for low-income people and to offering law-related educational programs to students. The award is presented to a Pennsylvania young lawyer who, through his or her exemplary personal and professional conduct, reminds lawyers of their professional and community responsibilities.
Santanasto served for three years as the chair of Northampton County Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division. While acting as chair, he was instrumental in developing a mentoring program and networking opportunities that matched young lawyers with more experienced lawyers and in providing continuing legal education programs for young lawyers. He recruited bar association members to serve as volunteers for high school mock trial competitions, Law Day programming and community outreach at Bethlehem’s Music Fest. He continued the division’s community service efforts, which included involvement in the Walk for a Healthy Community and the Holiday Hope Chest programs.
Santanasto serves on the board of Meals on Wheels in Lehigh County. He provides pro bono legal services to Sun Inn Preservation Association, a nonprofit organization that maintains an historic Bethlehem inn, which has quartered such guests as George and Martha Washington. He handled more than 20 cases for pro bono clients participating in Northampton County’s Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program, which helped individuals negotiate with banks during foreclosure mediation sessions. He served as a member of the Steering Committee of the “Learning for Life” program of the Boy Scouts of America’s Minsi Trails Council.
He frequently speaks at area schools about the law and the legal profession. He also has presented lectures about landlord tenant law for Sterling Educational Services.
Prior to opening his own firm, Santanasto was an associate at King, Spry, Herman, Freund and Faul of Bethlehem.
Santanasto holds degrees from St. Joseph’s University and Rutgers School of Law.
Founded in 1895, the Pennsylvania Bar Association strives to promote justice, professional excellence and respect for the law; improve public understanding of the legal system; facilitate access to legal services; and serve the 27,000 lawyers who are members of the association.