National Legal Services Corporation Honors Louisiana Judge, Attorneys and Firm for Outstanding Pro Bono Work

WASHINGTON — In recognition of their extraordinary commitment to equal justice, the national Legal Services Corporation (LSC) Board of Directors presented its Pro Bono Service Award to five Louisianans and a Lafayette law firm Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. The awards ceremony took place in the Great Hall of the Louisiana Supreme Court, 400 Royal Street, from 5-6:30 p.m.

Speakers at the event included American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono & Public Service Chair Larry McDevitt, Louisiana Bar Foundation President Patricia A. Krebs, Louisiana Bar Association President John H. Musser IV, Adams & Reese LLP Senior Partner E. Paige Sensenbrenner, LSC Board Chairman John G. Levi, and other LSC Board members.

The Recipients of the Pro Bono Service Award are:

Mark Surprenant – Mr. Surprenant is Liaison Partner of the Pro Bono Services Committee at Adams & Reese LLP. He founded the firm’s nationally recognized corporate philanthropy program in 1988, and its official pro bono program in 2000. Mr. Surprenant is a long-time, committed supporter of The Pro Bono Project, where he has held every volunteer job from case handler to board chair.



Laborde & Neuner
– During the past five years, Laborde & Neuner’s21 lawyers have accepted more than 350 pro bono cases and donated over 2,500 hours to Lafayette Volunteer Lawyers, exemplifying how a few dedicated people with a strong commitment to pro bono can make an enormous difference in their community. 


Hon. Melvin A. Shortess– Judge Shortess (retired) is the driving force behind Thirst for Justice, a collaboration of the Baton Rouge Bar Foundation, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and The Pro Bono Project. Since engineering the program’s creation in 2001, he has personally staffed almost every one of its twice-weekly pro bono civil legal clinics.


Robert Owsley – A family law specialist with the firm of Murchison and Murchison LLC, Mr. Owsley  has been declared Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year in the Natchitoches area for seven years running.  He is a former legal aid attorney and has served on the board of Legal Services of North Louisiana since 2004.

Winfield E. Little, Jr.– A sole practitioner in Lake Charles, Mr. Little has always made time for pro bono service. As a volunteer with the Southwest Louisiana Bar Foundation’s Pro Bono Project, he has taken more cases through the Child In Need of Care (CINC) program than any other attorney. He is also active in the new Homeless Experience Legal Protection (HELP) program in Southwest Louisiana and is a member of the board of directors of the Southwest Louisiana Bar Foundation.


Anu Kakonen – Now retired from the UAW Legal Services Plan, Kakonenis a former legal aid attorney who spends much of her time providing pro bono legal assistance to low-income Louisianans. In 2012 she spent 96 days providing pro bono assistance to hundreds of clients in Legal Services of North Louisiana’s Shreveport office.