PBI President and CEO Esther F. Lardent delivered introductory remarks during the 2013 PBI Annual Conference reception. See her remarks below.
Good evening. As some of you know, we do not routinely present the Chesterfield Smith Award every year. Rather we only do so when warranted by extraordinary contributions to pro bono service. And so it is a magnificent year when we have found it important and revelatory to honor two Chesterfield Smith winners.
When we were thinking about this award, we thought about the criteria – about the actions undertaken. And we thought, well, should we honor an individual who played the key role in securing sharply increased funding for legal aid, probably the highest increase in legal aid in this nation, or should we recognize the person who has boldly reshaped pro bono? Or perhaps we should recognize the individual who has brilliantly articulated the importance of legal services in the lives of our people and in the health of our communities. Or perhaps the person who has inspired the judiciary to play a critically important and unprecedented role in addressing equal access to justice issues. Luckily, we don’t have to choose because there is one person who has done all of that in the last few years. He is, talk about dynamo, he is truly a dynamo and that person, that remarkable person is Jonathan Lippman, Chief Judge of New York.
The many people, some in this room tonight, who have been blessed to work with Judge Lippman as he has set out to revolutionize access to justice know that he is far more than a Chief Judge although he is certainly a brilliant one. He is bold, yet patient, principled, and politically astute. He is our model of excellence, our inspiration, our psychologist, our mediator, our rabbi, and our dear friend. I am deeply honored to present the 2013 Chesterfield Smith Award to the astonishing Jonathan Lippman.