ABA honors Kenneth Parsigian ('87) for his commitment to pro bono work


Kenneth Parsigian ('87)
Kenneth Parsigian ('87)

Goodwin Procter press release:

ABA honors Kenneth Parsigian ('87) for his commitment to pro bono work

BOSTON, May 1, 2009 – Goodwin Procter announced that Kenneth J. Parsigian ('87), a partner in the firm’s Litigation Department, is to be honored by the American Bar Association with the John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award. Parsigian was chosen for his honor based on his efforts on scores of pro bono cases, culminating last year in the successful release of an Ohio inmate who had been on death row for 22 years, coming within a few days of execution. Parsigian will receive the award today at a ceremony in Atlanta.

The John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award was established by the American Bar Association Section of Litigation in 1990. It is named for The Honorable John Minor Wisdom, a scholar and jurist whose tenure on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is best known for its recognition of constitutional rights of all citizens.  The ABA is also honoring Boston lawyer, Lynn A. Girton, Chief Counsel of the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association.

“We are proud that the ABA has chosen Ken for this very prestigious  award.,” said Regina M. Pisa, chairman and managing partner of Goodwin Procter. “He is a long-time vocal advocate for pro bono, speaking about his own personal experiences on these matters and the importance of this work. His enthusiasm is infectious; for the associates in particular, it is very beneficial to have a respected partner speak about how pro bono is supported at the firm, and how rewarding the work can be.”

Among his many pro bono cases, Parsigian’s representation of the internationally-debated case of Kenneth Richey reflects his strong dedication to upholding the law and protecting the rights of all citizens.  After 22 years on death row in Ohio, Richey was released from prison after a federal appeals court determined that there were flaws in the handling of his initial trial.  Sentenced to time served, a plea to a charge of reckless endangerment allowed for his release and his return to his native Scotland.  Prior to his release in 2008, Richey was the sole Briton on death row in the United States.

The ABA has also noted Parsigian’s work with lawyers from Gay & Lesbian Advocate & Defenders (GLAD) in convincing the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to find that same sex couples have a constitutional right to marry and in fending off challenges to that ruling, both in the courts and the Legislature.

Throughout his 20+ year career at Goodwin Procter, Parsigian has consistently devoted significant time and effort on behalf of those unable to afford legal representation.  He is a recipient of the firm’s Robert B. Fraser Pro Bono Award, given annually to lawyers who have done outstanding pro bono work and have made a special contribution to the establishment or expansion of the firm’s pro bono activities. In 2008 he was awarded the Boston University Law 2008 Pro Bono Alumni Award for his dedication to pro bono work and for his success in obtaining Richey’s freedom.

Parsigian's current pro bono work includes working with the Youth Advocacy Project to protect the right of Massachusetts juveniles to have trained, court-appointed counsel in all detention hearings, representing women inmates in a class action against prison system for substandard treatment, and supervising teams of young lawyers in representing immigrants seeking political asylum in the U.S. to avoid persecution and torture in their native countries.

“I had the pleasure of working with Ken on an asylum case referred to the firm by the Political Asylum/Representation Project.  With his support, our client, a man who stood up for democracy and change in Zimbabwe, and was tortured for doing so, was given asylum in the U.S. Over the years, he has truly done an amazing job that has helped so many deserving individuals,” said Shirley Paley, an associate at Goodwin Procter.

Parsigian, who represents clients in both civil and criminal matters, with a primary focus on complex mass tort and RICO litigation, has an impressive record of legal achievement, in which he has devoted thousands of hours to pro bono matters.  Parsigian serves on the Board of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, a nonprofit organization that works to secure equal justice under the law.  In addition, he oversees the firm’s immigration asylum project, where junior lawyers represent immigrants who are seeking political asylum because they face persecution and torture if returned to their native countries. 

Having spent years on Goodwin Procter’s Pro Bono Committee, and recently named its chair, Parsigian’s commitment to the community has reinforced and expanded the firm’s efforts to instill pro bono work as a central aspect of the firm’s culture.  Parsigian has mentored and supervised dozens of associates on pro bono matters, and is always willing to take the time to help an associate looking to take on a new client.

About Goodwin Procter
Goodwin Procter LLP is one of the nation’s leading law firms with more than 900 attorneys in offices in Boston, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Washington, D.C. The firm’s core areas of practice are corporate, litigation and real estate, with specialized areas of focus that include financial services, private equity, technology, REITs and real estate capital markets, intellectual property, tax and products liability. Information may be found at www.goodwinprocter.com.