Venable attorneys Courtney Capute and Lauren Stocks-Smith were recently honored with the 2019 Benjamin R. Civiletti Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award. Courtney is being recognized for her contributions to civic life in Baltimore, especially on behalf of organizations that assist people in need, while Lauren is being recognized for her work on behalf of a DC man wrongfully convicted of murder.
On top of serving as partner-in-charge of the Baltimore office and maintaining a thriving transactional practice, Courtney has consistently met or exceeded the firm's pro bono expectations through the years, logging more than 200 pro bono hours last year. Her recent work has assisted organizations that serve some of Baltimore's most vulnerable communities, including those experiencing homelessness, victims of sexual assault, domestic abuse and sex trafficking, and youth populations in communities plagued by violence. Courtney has also worked with the Society for the Preservation of Federal Hill and Fell's Point to acquire, restore and preserve historic housing.
Lauren helped secure the freedom of Troy Burner, imprisoned for more than 24 years for a murder he did not commit. Lauren has devoted two years and more than 1,250 hours to Troy's case. Troy was released from prison in November 2018. Since then, he has graduated from Georgetown University's PIVOT program, which prepares returning citizens to join the workforce and even start their own businesses. Today, Troy is interning with the Campaign for Fair Sentencing for Youth, working to launch his own business with PIVOT classmates, and trying his hand at political advocacy in an effort to expand the categories of youth offenders eligible for resentencing under DC's new Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act.
The Venable Foundation makes a $1,000 contribution to the charitable organization of each Civiletti award recipient's choosing. Courtney has designated the Society for the Preservation of Federal Hill and Fell's Point. Lauren has designated the Campaign for Fair Sentencing for Youth.
The firm established the Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award in 2003 to honor the career-long commitment to public service of Venable's chairman emeritus, Benjamin Civiletti. Each year the firm selects Civiletti award recipients in recognition of their exemplary pro bono service.
Venable has a longstanding commitment to pro bono representation and public service, working with national, state and local bar organizations, as well as with nonprofit providers of legal services, to serve those in need of legal representation. Each year the firm handles hundreds of pro bono matters in a number of areas, including child welfare, housing, civil rights and civil liberties, veterans' benefits, immigration, criminal justice, the environment, and non-profit formation and operations.