Taft Announces 2024 Pro Bono Award Winners

Taft is pleased to honor Earl Messer with a Lifetime Impact Pro Bono Award and Jamal Knight with an excellence in pro bono award.

Earl Messer/ Litigation/ Cincinnati, has been a leader of the firm’s pro bono efforts for the Cincinnati community for his decades-long career at Taft. Not only does Messer take on poverty law cases for the Volunteer Lawyers for the Poor, but he also recruits others at the firm to take cases. The firm has taken over 100 VLP cases under his leadership.

Jamal Knight/ Real Estate/ Minneapolis, has assisted several different pro bono clients with a number of real estate and business issues this past year, contributing close to 200 hours of pro bono time. Knight volunteers for Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, the Neighborhood Development Center, and the University of Minnesota business law clinic, among others. He has helped important community organizations with leases, purchase and sale agreements, financing agreements, and other contracts.

Each year, the Taft team devotes thousands of hours to pro bono work. This dedication to the public interest is inherent in Taft’s culture and is approached with the same client-first mindset and service that is provided in every Taft matter. Taft’s Pro Bono Awards were initiated to acknowledge attorneys who best exemplify the firm’s commitment to giving back to its communities.

The 2024 winners were carefully selected by Taft’s Pro Bono Committee. The committee considered each nominee’s overall pro bono achievements, the time, talent, and energy invested into the cases handled, and the positive impact of their work on their communities. Each award recipient can direct a donation by Taft to a charitable organization of their choice. Messer’s donation will go to the Volunteer Lawyers for the Poor Foundation and Knight’s will go to The Mixtape Strategy.

Taft Pro Bono Committee Co-Chairs Philip Williamson and Rachel Schaller noted that, “the Pro Bono Award winners have demonstrated excellence in their service to their communities and they exemplify what it means to be a pro bono champion – devoting talent, time, and resources to those who need it most.”

As an integral part of the firm’s community values, Taft attorneys are committed to providing legal services to low-income individuals, nonprofit and community organizations, and public interest causes. In 2024, Taft continues to cultivate its pro bono commitments through the Pro Bono Committee’s efforts and the tremendous work done by attorneys and staff in each of Taft’s markets.

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