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Kader receives pro bono award for assisting Holocaust survivors

June 23, 2009

The Holocaust Survivors Justice Network and its volunteers, including Professor David Kader, the child of two Holocaust survivors, is the recipient of the American Bar Association's 2009 Pro Bono Publico Award, the legal professional's highest recognition for pro bono work.

The HSJN is an international initiative established by Bet Tzedek Legal Services, a Los Angeles-based poverty law firm, and the law firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, to assist Holocaust survivors in obtaining reparation payments. In the Phoenix metro area, assistance is provided by Jewish Family & Children's Services, Kader and volunteers from the law firms of Perkins Coie Brown & Bain, P.A., Burch & Cracchiolo, P.A., Kutak Rock LLP, Fennemore Craig, P.C., Osborn Maledon, P.A., DLA Piper LLP, and Fromm Smith & Gadow, P.C., and the U-Haul International Legal Department.

Kader's involvement in the reparations effort flows directly through his affiliation with the Phoenix Holocaust Survivors' Association, which he helped establish about 25 years ago and served as president for nine years. The association helps local survivors on many levels, including circumnavigating the forms and hurdles of the reparation process.

Paul Schiff Berman, Dean of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, praised Kader for his work. "The new model of public legal education we are creating at the College of Law has community outreach at its core," Berman said. "As such, I am thrilled that Professor Kader has been such an important force both nationally and regionally in this important cause."

Kader is a longtime law professor and a faculty affiliate in ASU's Center for the Study of Religion & Conflict, Center for the Study of Medieval & Renaissance Studies, and Jewish Studies Program.

"The legal profession at its best is in the business of justice -- doing justice and getting it for those who have been denied justice," he said. "It is immensely gratifying to be able to do such work for those in our midst who are in great need, and with those who are so devoted to the claim justice has on us all, individually and as a learned profession."

Kader grew up around memories of the atrocities inflicted on the Jews of Europe during the period of Nazi rule of Germany and their lasting impact on that generation. That upbringing made its mark on Kader, born to Lola and Moshe Kader in a displaced person camp in the American zone of occupied Germany after World War II.

"For me, given my family history and my own, this particular pro bono effort was particularly meaningful," he said. "I am grateful to Bet Tzedek and Ron Lowe and his associates for their marvelous work and deserving recognition."

Lowe is a partner at the Perkins Coie Brown & Bain, which was chosen to serve as the HSJN's coordinating law firm in Phoenix, after the network's founding in September 2007.

"We were fortunate enough to have David Kader assist in the implementation of the program in the metropolitan Phoenix area," Lowe said. "Without meaning to belittle the service other attorneys in the Phoenix community have afforded to the survivor community over the years, David Kader's service to the community has far surpassed others and he added an enormous amount of credibility to the Phoenix effort for the network."

The Pro Bono Publico Award will be presented on Aug. 3 at the ABA's annual meeting in Chicago.

Currently, clinics in 31 major cities in the U.S. and Canada and two cities in Australia have joined the network. Volunteers provide free legal services to survivors, nearly all in their 80s and 90s, in completing Germany's complex reparation application process. The groundbreaking project is the first-ever nationally coordinated reparations endeavor on behalf of survivors, and the largest pro bono initiative of its kind in U.S. history, according to Bet Tzedek.

The HSJN was created after the German government created a new program to compensate survivors who performed "voluntary" labor in Nazi-controlled ghettos during the WW II. Under the German Ghetto Work Payment Program, survivors are eligible to file claims for a one-time payment of about $2,800.

Since its formation, the network has successfully enlisted volunteers from more than 100 law firms and corporate legal departments, as well as 30-plus social-service agency partners. About 3,600 attorneys, paralegals and other legal professionals have donated an estimated 45,000 hours in local legal clinics where they interview survivors and complete the highly detailed claim forms. These volunteers have met with and interviewed about 5,000 survivors, filing an estimated 3,000 claims, worth approximately $8 million in potential reparation payments, according to Mitchell A. Kamin, Bet Tzedek's president and chief executive officer.

"There is no greater testament to the tireless dedication of our volunteer partners or to the courage of these survivors than for the Justice Network to receive a Pro Bono Publico Award," said Kamin. "This honor belongs entirely to them and, on behalf of Bet Tzedek, we are grateful to everyone involved in the network and deeply humbled by the recognition bestowed by the American Bar Association."

Janie Magruder,
(480) 727-9052
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law