Venable Honors Jeff Nover, Carolyn Vinson, and Gary Dunn with 2022 Benjamin R. Civiletti Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Awards

4 min

On June 28, 2022, Jeff Nover, Carolyn Vinson, and Gary Dunn were honored with 2022 Benjamin R. Civiletti Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year awards. This award was established to recognize and honor the spirit of public service as demonstrated by Benjamin Civiletti, Chairman Emeritus of Venable, throughout his career. The individuals chosen to receive this award have demonstrated a true commitment to public service through their pro bono efforts.

Mr. Nover, a counsel in the Real Estate Finance Group in the Baltimore office, is being recognized for his work with the National Community Stabilization Trust, an organization devoted to redeveloping distressed housing stock to provide affordable homes to people of limited means in different cities around the country. Over the past two years, he has helped the Trust set up a loan fund to furnish financing to small developers to purchase and renovate single-family homes in long-neglected Baltimore neighborhoods and then sell the homes to qualifying low-income owner-occupants. Now adequately capitalized, the fund closed its first two loans in June 2022, paving the way for new affordable housing in Baltimore. Over the past year, Mr. Nover also worked with the Baltimore Downtown Partnership’s Black-Owned and Occupied Storefront Tenancy program to negotiate leases for vacant storefront retail spaces in downtown Baltimore for four fledgling Black-owned small businesses: NKVSKIN, Elite Secrets Bridal, Media Rhythms Institute, and the Black Genius Art Show. All four leases are executed, and, as of June 2022, two of the spaces are open for business.

Ms. Vinson, a counsel in the East Coast Estate Planning Group in the Washington, DC office, is being recognized for dedicating more than 500 hours over the course of the last two years to An Open Book, a nonprofit that provides books to children in elementary schools in the DC metro area, particularly in poorer communities, and arranges for the authors to visit and speak with the children about the books. Ms. Vinson has effectively served as outside counsel to the organization, assisting with all manner of corporate governance as well as a recent employee dispute. She also recently spent approximately 200 hours providing vital estate planning to four different individuals of limited means, including a victim of the mass shooting on the Las Vegas strip. In addition, last year the D.C. Court of Appeals appointed Ms. Vinson to serve as one of five trustees of the DC Bar’s Client Security Fund. As a trustee, she volunteers time to make compensation determinations for individuals who have suffered losses due to the dishonest conduct of DC-barred lawyers.

Mr. Dunn, an associate in the Commercial Litigation Practice Group in the New York office, is being recognized for his years-long, successful representation of Daniel, a 15-year-old child from El Salvador. He obtained Special Immigration Juvenile Status (SIJS) and dismissal of an asylum proceeding for Daniel. Mr. Dunn has been working on the case since he was a Summer Associate in 2017 and assisted in drafting both the Motion for SIJS and a previous asylum application, which was dismissed once SIJS was obtained. He participated in the SIJS hearing itself in Nassau County Family Court. Additionally, Mr. Dunn assisted in drafting an appellate brief to the Arkansas Supreme Court arguing that an Arkansas judge was not entitled to judicial immunity based upon his conduct of jailing individuals for failure to pay fines while violating their constitutional rights. He assisted in conducting multiple moot practices for oral arguments at the Arkansas Supreme Court, preparing a summary judgment brief at the trial stage and participating extensively in discovery, including preparing for the deposition of the Defendant, Judge Mark Derrick. 

Venable has a longstanding commitment to pro bono representation and public service. Since the firm's founding over 100 years ago, Venable attorneys have been leaders in providing legal services to the community's disadvantaged. Working with national, state, and local bar organizations as well as with nonprofit providers of legal services, Venable has been at the forefront of efforts to serve those in need of legal representation. Each year, the firm handles hundreds of pro bono matters covering a broad range of issues, such as child welfare, civil rights and civil liberties, court-appointed cases, education outreach, the environment, and historic preservation.