The Jeffrey A. Ernico Award
The Ernico Award celebrates the pro bono accomplishments of Harrisburg attorney Jeffrey A. Ernico and his long-standing commitment to equal justice and serving those who had nowhere else to turn. The Ernico Award is an occasional award of the PBA Legal Services to the Public Committee that is to be given to such individuals and groups as the committee, from time to time, determines have provided unique service that has resulted in significant improvement in the provision of legal services to the neediest among us.
At a March 2006 reception hosted by the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network and the law firm of Mette, Evans and Woodside honoring Ernico, he noted that "The only bad thing about having an award like this named after you while you are still alive is that you have to keep behaving well so they do not take the award away." Given Ernico's commitment to pro bono service - he ran from the breakfast to the board meeting for the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network - no one is worried about the award losing its luster.
The first recipient of the Jeffrey A. Ernico Award was Jim Carroll, former president of the Allegheny County Bar Association, who received the award in September 2005 from then-PBA President-elect Ken Horoho. Carroll was honored for his work as ACBA president, his accomplishments included hiring the first full-time pro bono coordinator and organizing a loan forgiveness program for public interest attorneys.
Central Pennsylvania lawyer John W. Frommer Receives PBA Ernico Award, Jan. 16, 2020
The PBA Legal Services to the Public Committee honored central Pennsylvania lawyer John W. Frommer with its Jeffrey A. Ernico Award at the annual dinner of the Cumberland County Bar Association on Jan. 16, 2020.
Frommer has been litigating Pennsylvania workers’ compensation and personal injury cases for more than 30 years. His workers’ compensation practice has grown to include all of eastern and central Pennsylvania. His commitment to helping clients is reflected in the significant free legal service he provides in the community. He has received the PBA Pro Bono Award three times and has twice been named the Dauphin County Bar Association’s Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year. He has served two terms by appointment of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court as a Disciplinary Hearing Committee member, where he heard cases involving lawyer misconduct. He continues to lecture on current workers’ compensation topics throughout the commonwealth.
Legal aid and pro bono professionals praised Frommer for taking cases that required great amounts of time, both in and out of the courtroom. He was also singled out for taking on difficult situations, such as helping a client who did not meet the financial limits of legal aid on paper but had such actual limited resources that, but for Frommer’s involvement, would have been left unrepresented in a complicated matter.
Pictured below (left to right): MidPenn Legal Services Managing Attorney Paul Edger, Cumberland County Pro Bono Coordinator Shawna Staub, PBA President Anne N. John, Awardee Frommer and PBA Pro Bono Coordinator David Trevaskis
Erie County Attorney Gregory L. Heidt Receives PBA Ernico Award, Aug. 22, 2019
PBA President Anne N. John presented the Jeffrey A. Ernico Award to private practitioner Gregory L. Heidt during the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Board Meeting on Aug. 22 in Erie. John also presented the Civil Legal Aid Attorney of the Year Award to David A. Baxter of Northwestern Legal Services and the Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille Award to Erie County President Judge John J. Trucilla.
Pictured below (left to right): Erie County Bar Association President Bradley K. Enterline, Northwestern Legal Services Executive Director Jennifer Langer, Baxter, PBA Pro Bono Coordinator David Trevaskis, John, Judge Trucilla and Heidt.
J. Denny Shupe and Harry J. Cooper Receive PBA Ernico Awards, June 21, 2018
J. Denny Shupe, a litigation partner at Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP in Philadelphia and Harry J. Cooper, a Bucks County criminal defense lawyer, have each received a PBA Jeffrey A. Ernico Award in honor of their work in support of veterans.
PBA Pro Bono Coordinator David Trevaskis noted the importance of celebrating the good work of those who help veterans, sharing both the difficulty of such work when you are often dealing with people who have experienced difficulties with systems that should have provided support and the real sense of satisfaction that comes when you can make a veteran’s life better.
Cooper was honored for his support of the veteran’s outreach efforts of the PBA Pro Bono Office, beginning with his service starting in 2003 as a Legal Assistance for Military Personnel (LAMP) volunteer and continuing with his efforts under the Lawyers Saluting Veterans program. A former chief of police in New Britain Township, Bucks County, Cooper’s pro bono efforts for poor veterans range from advice to direct representation in both criminal and civil matters. Cooper is a volunteer for the PBA YLD Wills for Heroes program that helps both first responders and veterans with basic estate planning.
Cooper is a past recipient of a PBA Pro Bono Award for “routinely providing more than 100 hours of such service each year, taking some of the toughest cases that come into the PBA Pro Bono Office, particularly for veterans facing a myriad of problems, both civil and criminal.” Cooper is also a gifted educator, having a long history of helping teach young people — as well as educators, law and justice professionals and others — about the law.
Cooper explained his sense of service as a product of lessons from his father as he grew up in a row home in Philadelphia. “We had the house at the end of the row but when it snowed we shoveled the entire block and my father would not allow us to take a penny from anyone for doing it,” he explained. Cooper said he asked his father why and his father told him that they helped others out because others “were unable to do it themselves.” That simple message that you help others because you can has informed Cooper’s approach to pro bono service.
Shupe was recognized for his service as an excellent model for leadership in pro bono and public interest legal service. Shupe, an Air Force Academy graduate and retired Air Force officer and command pilot, currently chairs the Special Problems in the Administration of Justice Committee (U.S.) for the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL). He is one of the leaders in the ACTL’s nationwide effort to develop and implement a groundbreaking project to address the more than four-year backlog in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ processing and selection of disability award appeals for veterans, delays that deny constitutional due process and can deny veterans the financial resources they need for daily living.
Shupe has also been instrumental in connecting his national pro bono and community service work to more local efforts for currently serving military personnel, their families and veterans. He has helped the Military Assistance Project find volunteer attorneys to meet the legal needs of service members and veterans. He serves as an adviser and mentor for Penn Law Veterans. In recent years, while he was co-chair and chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Military Affairs Committee, Shupe also supported the Veterans Multi-Service Center, which has Pennsylvania locations in Philadelphia, Coatesville and State College, as well as Millville, N.J.
Shupe served on the board of the USO of Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey as a member and former chairman, and also was elected as the national chairman of the USO Affiliate Council, where he assisted with national fundraising and service delivery programs for actively serving armed services members and their families. Since leaving the USO board, he has continued to support the efforts of the local Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey USO organization. Shupe has also provided direct pro bono representation in cases ranging from prisoner rights to family law matters.
Shupe spoke of the importance of serving others, especially veterans, and tried to explain why such service was so important to him. He never quite finished that explanation, as emotions welled up inside him, but there was need for him to say anymore as his passion for helping others was palpable. Schnader’s Dennis Suplee, a past chairman of the firm, provided brief remarks honoring the awardees.
Presenting the awards on behalf of PBA President Charles Eppolito III were PBA Past President Thomas Wilkinson and Kathleen Wilkinson, longtime PBA leader and a former Philadelphia Bar chancellor.
Dauphin County Attorney DeAngelo Honored With Ernico Award, Sept. 27, 2017
The PBA Legal Services to the Public Committee has honored James P. De Angelo, chair of the Litigation Group at McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC, Harrisburg, with its 11th Jeffrey A. Ernico Award.
A longtime champion of pro bono service and the delivery of legal services to the poor, DeAngelo has served as chair of the Dauphin County Bar Association’s (DCBA) Public Service Committee since 1997. He also is a veteran member and past leader of the PBA Legal Services to the Public Committee. He has served on the boards and in leadership of significant legal aid programs, including: the regional MidPenn Legal Services program, the Community Justice Project, and the statewide Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network. He has dedicated numerous hours of pro bono legal advice to individuals and families in the central Pennsylvania community and beyond.
“Jim is a truly deserving recipient of this award as he not only ‘talks the talk but walks the walk’ because no matter how busy he is in his private practice he always has time to support legal aid and handle cases pro bono,” said MidPenn Legal Services Executive Director Rhodia Thomas.
DCBA Public Services Coordinator Sandy Ballard added, “With Jim’s bold and creative leadership, the DCBA continues to expand and improve its service to the community through our pro bono program.”
DeAngelo’s award reads: “A champion of justice for those in need, James P. DeAngelo has been dedicated to public service throughout his legal career. His outstanding community service through pro bono contributions works to balance the inequality for those without adequate access to justice.”
Pittsburgh Lawyer McCarthy Receives 2016 PBA Ernico Award, June 29, 2016
Carol Mills McCarthy, a partner with the Pittsburgh-based McCarthy McDonald Schulberg & Joy and a past president of the Neighborhood Legal Services Association (NLSA) board, was honored by the PBA with a Jeffrey A. Ernico Award on June 29, in recognition of her exceptional pro bono advocacy efforts. The award celebrates the pro bono accomplishments of Harrisburg attorney Jeffrey A. Ernico and his long-standing commitment to equal justice. It is an occasional award of the PBA Legal Services to the Public Committee, given to honor those whose efforts have "resulted in significant improvement in the provision of legal services to the neediest among us." McCarthy was recognized for her extraordinary volunteerism benefitting the clients of NLSA and the Allegheny County Bar Association's Pro Bono Center. Shown below, McCarthy receives the award from David K. Trevaskis, PBA pro bono coordinator, left, and Robert Racunas, NLSA executive director.
2015 Ernico Award Presented to York County's Lawrence V. Young, Jan. 12, 2016
Lawrence V. Young was honored with the Jeffrey A. Ernico Award. The award celebrates the pro bono accomplishments of Harrisburg attorney Jeffrey A. Ernico and his long-standing commitment to equal justice and serving those who had nowhere else to turn. The award is an occasional award of the PBA Legal Services to the Public Committee, given to such individuals and groups as the committee, from time to time, determines have provided unique service that has resulted in significant improvement in the provision of legal services to the neediest among us. Larry has spent a lifetime doing just that. As it reads on the plaque, "A Champion of Access to Justice, Larry Young has provided pro bono service and leadership in York County and beyond. His example and his leadership in the field are greatly appreciated." In the photo, PBA President William H. Pugh V, right, and PBA Pro Bono Coordinator David Trevaskis, left, present the award to Young.
Ernico Award Presented to Dauphin County Court Administrator Freeman, Oct. 1, 2014
The PBA Legal Services to the Public Committee has honored Deborah S. Freeman, court administrator for the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas, with the Ernico Award. The award celebrates the pro bono accomplishments of Harrisburg attorney Jeffrey A. Ernico and his longstanding commitment to equal justice and to serving those who have nowhere else to turn. An occasional award, it is given to individuals and groups that the committee determines have provided unique service that has resulted in significant improvement in the provision of legal services to the needy. Freeman is the seventh recipient of the award since it was created in 2006. Her award reads: "A champion of access to justice, Deborah S. Freeman has been dedicated to public service throughout her career. Her leadership in opening the courts of Dauphin County to those in need is a model for the Commonwealth to follow." The award was presented by Enrico and Lisa M. Benzie, chair of the PBA House of Delegates.
In the photo above, from left, at the award presentation are PBA Pro Bono Coordinator David Trevaskis, Benzie, Freeman, Ernico and Rhodia Thomas, executive director of MidPenn Legal Services.
McKenna is 2013 Ernico Honoree
The PBA Legal Services to the Public Committee is pleased to honor Chester County's John F. McKenna with its Jeffrey A. Ernico Award.
McKenna has been a longtime champion of pro bono and legal aid in Chester County and beyond. He currently serves as the president of Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania and chairman of the Chester County Bar Association (CCBA) Pro Bono Committee. Under his leadership, Chester County has created a model for partnership between local legal services programs and local bars. Fund- and friend-raising for legal aid has jumped dramatically during Mckenna's leadership tenure.
Mckenna has consistently performed significant pro bono hours for the poor and he started the CCBA Access to Justice effort to find pro bono attorneys for clients who are very poor, but who make too much money to qualify for civil legal aid. The project has also increased the number of pro bono attorneys taking referrals from the local office of Legal Aid for Southeastern Pennsylvania and seeks to provide pro bono lawyers for Community Impact Legal Services.
McKenna is a 2005 and 2006 PBA Pro Bono Award winner and he received the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network 2008 Excellence Award, honoring supporters of legal aid in Pennsylvania who work tirelessly as advocates for low-income people.
McKenna is seventh recipient of the Ernico Award. His award reads: “A champion of justice for those in need, John F. McKenna has brought together legal aid and the private bar to secure access to justice for all. His personal pro bono contributions, combined with his broad leadership in the field, have made a difference in the lives of many.
Jewell Honored with PBA's Ernico Award at Lancaster Event, Feb. 27, 2013
The Pennsylvania Bar Association's Legal Services to the Public Committee has honored late Lancaster County lawyer Kenneth R. Jewell with its Jeffrey A. Ernico Award.
The award celebrates the pro bono accomplishments of Harrisburg attorney Jeffrey A. Ernico and his longstanding commitment to equal justice and serving those who have nowhere else to turn. It is an occasional award of the PBA Legal Services to the Public Committee, given to such individuals and groups as the committee from time to time determines have provided unique service that has resulted in significant improvement in the provision of legal services to the neediest among us.
Ernico, along with Matthew J. Creme Jr., PBA immediate past president, and Samuel W. Milkes, executive director of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, presented the award to Caroline Hoffer, Chair of the Memorial Resolution Committee, for Jewell's widow, Rosemary, at the Lancaster Bar Association memorial for Jewell, held Feb. 27, 2013.
Jewell was recognized by the LBA and the PBA for his outstanding community service through pro bono contributions. In 1998 he was awarded the LBA's Access to Justice Award, and in 2002 he received the PBA Pro Bono Award. His dedication to public service started long before those awards were given. Jewell, together with other LBA members, founded the Lancaster Mediation Center in 1979 and served on its Board of Directors for 16 years, including a three-year term as president. He also championed access to justice as the initial coordinator of the LBA's Pro Bono Program, later named the LBA Volunteer Attorney Program, and served as an active member of the program. In 1990 Jewell testified as chair of the LBA Public Services Committee before the PBA Task Force for Legal Services to the Needy. He was twice quoted in the important and widely distributed report prepared by the task force regarding the inequality of justice for those in court without representation.
Former LBA President Greg Paulson was chair of the LBA Public Service Committee when the LBA Pro Bono Program debuted in 1982. According to Paulson, "Ken was one of the founding fathers of pro bono in Lancaster County. He was incredibly bright, good-humored and warm to all. He was truly dedicated to helping the underprivileged. His role as the first pro bono coordinator set the tone and the drive for the program's success, even today."
Jewell is the sixth recipient of the Ernico Award since it was created in 2006. His award reads: "A champion of justice for those in need, Kenneth R. Jewell was dedicated to public service throughout his career. His outstanding community service through pro bono contributions worked to balance the inequality of justice for those in court without representation."
In the photo above Caroline Hoffer, Chair of the Memorial Resolution Committee, accepts the award for Jewell's widow, Rosemary, with Creme and Milkes to her left.
Other Past Ernico Award Winners
Elizabeth R. Price
The PBA Legal Services to the Public Committee presented its fifth Jeffrey A. Ernico Award to Elizabeth Price, the Delaware County Bar Executive, for her work in promoting legal aid and pro bono service in Delaware County and beyond. Price was instrumental in the success of a number of public service efforts. Illness kept her from receiving her award, which was given posthumously to her family. A January 2011 ceremony to acknowledge her award by the Delaware County bar is planned.
The PBA Legal Services to the Public Committee presented its fourth Jeffrey A. Ernico Award to Philadelphia County attorney and Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) administrator Kathleen Smith in August 2008 for her work in promoting pro bono service through the Fox Rothschild Center for Law and Society and for being instrumental in making CCP a center for public service. Pictured below, PBA Pro Bono Coordinator David K. Trevaskis presents the award to Ms. Smith. (CCP was the first academic institution to host Wills for Heroes in Pennsylvania and has been a great partner of the PBA's Pro Bono Office, hosting clinics and providing student and faculty volunteers for a host of public interest programs.)
Cary L. Flitter
Michael Paul Malakoff