About PBA         Casemaker         Pennsylvania Bar Institute         Pennsylvania Bar Foundation         Calendar Calendar                
For Lawyers                          For the Public                          Events & Education                          News & Publications                          Get Involved
Philadelphia Lawyer to Receive Michael K. Smith Excellence in Service Award from the Pennsylvania Bar Association Young Lawyers Division

HARRISBURG (May 14, 2009) - The Pennsylvania Bar Association Young Lawyers Division will present its Michael K. Smith Excellence in Service Award to Daniel J.T. McKenna of Ballard Spahr Andrews Ingersoll L.L.P., Philadelphia. McKenna will receive the award during the state association's Annual Meeting on June 2 in Pittsburgh.

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.

McKenna is overseeing the Pennsylvania "Wills for Heroes" program, which provides free wills and other estate planning documents to police, fire and emergency personnel. The project, launched earlier this year in Philadelphia, is cosponsored by Pennsylvania Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and Ballard Spahr and calls upon the expertise of lawyers throughout the state.

"Dan leads by example, devoting hour-upon-hour of his time to the Wills for Heroes program," said Young Lawyers Division Chair Ryan Blazure of Kingston, who nominated McKenna for the award. "Hundreds of Pennsylvania's first responders and their families will benefit from Dan's work and the good efforts of the many lawyer-volunteers who are stepping forward to participate.

"The program has truly been a success in both its reception and turnout. Pennsylvania will look to remain a proud partner with the Wills for Heroes Foundation for years to come," Blazure added.

On a scheduled Wills for Heroes day, a team of lawyers bring computer laptops to a firehouse or meeting hall and spend at least an hour with each participant who pre-registers to attend the event. A participant sits with a lawyer to review a questionnaire that the participant has filled out in advance. Answers are entered into a computer-based program. The lawyer reviews the resulting document with the participant to ensure its accuracy. After any necessary corrections are made, the will is printed, signed, witnessed and notarized.

Upon request, lawyer-volunteers also will work with each participant to prepare an advance medical directive, often called a "living will," which specifies what actions should be taken for the participant's health in the event that he or she can no longer make decisions due to illness or incapacity. In addition, lawyers will prepare a durable power of attorney, a document that gives another person legal authority to act on behalf of the participant if the participant becomes incapacitated. These documents also are offered at no cost to participants.

The "Wills for Heroes" program was founded by Anthony Hayes, a South Carolina lawyer who wanted to do something meaningful to help the country after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He met with South Carolina firefighters and noted a glaring need for estate planning services.

McKenna serves on the national board of the Wills for Heroes Foundation, and he is the mentorship coordinator for the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division. McKenna previously sat as the public service coordinator for the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, which adopted the Wills for Heroes program as one of its primary public service projects.

In addition to his commitments to Wills for Heroes, McKenna coaches the Ballard Spahr-sponsored mock trial team at Constitution High School for American Studies, a college preparatory high school located in Philadelphia.

Since 2006, McKenna has served as the At Large Zone Chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division.

McKenna also serves on the executive committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association and the board of directors of the Temple Law Alumni Association. McKenna also assists in the coordination of Wills for Heroes programs in Maryland and New Jersey.

McKenna graduated with honors from The Catholic University of America and Temple University Beasley 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 29,000 lawyers who are members of the association.