LEWISTON — Pine Tree Legal Assistance honored Lewiston-based law firm Hardy Wolf & Downing and one of its partners, Sheldon Tepler at an event in Lewiston on Oct. 24.
Pine Tree presented two awards to local heroes: board President Stacy Stitham presented the 1967 Commitment to Justice Award to Hardy Wolf & Downing and Executive Director Nan Heald presented Pine Tree’s individual Pro Bono Award to firm partner Tepler.
This year’s award celebrates an historic milestone in pro bono service: the 2017 decision of the firm to create a new full-time associate position with the understanding that the attorney will spend 50 percent of their time on pro bono work in partnership with the Lewiston office of Pine Tree Legal Assistance. The attorney’s salary and benefits will be paid by the firm, but half of their time will be spent at Pine Tree.
“To our knowledge, this is the first such program to launch in a Maine law firm and may also be unique on a national level,” Heald said. “We can’t imagine a more worthy recipient of our 1967 Commitment to Justice Award than the law firm of Hardy Wolf & Downing.”
Pine Tree Legal Assistance also recognized Tepler for his career-long dedication to pro bono work and advocacy to expand justice for all low-income Mainers. For more than a decade, Sheldon has also volunteered as a ‘lawyer of the day’ for low-income individuals facing eviction during the bimonthly docket calls at the Lewiston District Court, working on their behalf to enforce legal protections and prevent homelessness.
In addition to his pro bono work throughout his career, Sheldon is the architect of the firm’s new experiment in pro bono.
From left are William C. Herbert III, Michael Welch, Cailley Bonti, Sheldon Tepler, Christian Lewis, Leana Amaez, Stacy Stitham and Nan Heald at the Pine Tree Legal Assistance reception in Lewiston.