Bass, Berry & Sims is honored to be recognized as the firm recipient of the 2024 National Public Service Award by the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Business Law Section. This annual award honors significant pro bono legal contributions of law firms, corporate law departments and individual lawyers that demonstrate a commitment to providing legal services to individuals and entities that could not otherwise afford them. The award was presented to Pro Bono Member David Esquivel at the ABA’s Business Law Spring Meeting in Orlando, Florida, on Friday, April 5.

According to the ABA, the firm received the award in recognition of its “extraordinary commitment to a diverse range of projects utilizing all practice areas and resources of the firm. The Award Committee was impressed with the enormous impact on the lives of those receiving your pro bono services.” Read more about the award on the ABA website.

(left to right) Alina Lee, a Fellow in the ABA Business Law Section, presents the award to David Esquivel, Pro Bono Member at Bass, Berry & Sims

In the past year, Bass, Berry & Sims logged more than 16,000 pro bono hours assisting individuals and community organizations with a variety of matters. Below are some highlights from our work in 2023:

  • Partnering with the Tennessee Innocence Project, the firm was privileged to see three of our wrongfully convicted clients released from prison. Wayne Burgess was released in May 2023 after received 24 years of a life sentence; Thomas Clardy was released from prison in October 2023 after serving 17 years of incarceration; and Artis Whitehead was released from prison in December 2023 after more than 20 years of incarceration.
  • Through the Name Change Project – in partnership with OUTMemphis, Knox Pride, inclusion Tennessee, and firm client Bridgestone Americas – our attorneys worked with members of the LGBTQ+ community to file paperwork to officially petition to change their name on state documents. To date, we have helped more than 300 individuals file name change petitions.
  • Continuing our partnership with Vanderbilt University Law School’s Immigration Practice Clinic and Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors, we represented Afghans resettled in Tennessee seeking asylum. Since 2022, the firm was successful in obtaining asylum for 10 individuals. Watch a video about our work here.
  • Over the past two years, Bass, Berry & Sims attorneys have worked with PURE Academy, a nonprofit, private school in Memphis, Tennessee, to help further the school’s mission to empower underprivileged school-aged males through academics, mentoring, and athletics. In 2023, the firm worked on the acquisition of a seven-acre campus in North Memphis that can serve 300 students. Read more about this work with PURE Academy here.
  • Among our work with more than 100 small business and nonprofits in 2023, the firm also collaborated with Harvest Hands Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit that provides after school and summer care for children in two of Nashville’s most under-resourced neighborhoods and maintains a social enterprise to support employment for teens. The social justice enterprise, Humphreys Street Coffee, roasts, packages and sells coffee and operates two coffee shops. Since starting a relationship with the organization in January 2023, our attorneys have addressed 13 separate legal issues including a wholesale contract, protecting the brand, leasing property for an expanded after school project, and sale of real estate. Watch a video about our work with Harvest Hands here.

The firm is proud of the work our attorneys do every day to make a difference in individual lives and in our communities. The firm celebrates our pro bono work to date and remains committed to continuing our efforts to expand legal resources that positively impact individuals and our communities.