MoFo is pleased to congratulate litigation associate Chanwoo Park on receiving the prestigious Thurgood Marshall Award for Exceptional Pro Bono Service in the Rising Star category from the Federal Bar Council, recognizing his tremendous dedication to achieving justice for his pro bono clients.
Chanwoo has provided more than 2,700 hours of pro bono service since becoming a summer associate in 2014, with no signs of slowing down. In her recommendation, MoFo Senior Pro Bono Counsel Jennifer Brown noted that “Chanwoo combines unsurpassed diligence in representation with an unassuming and even humble style, inspiring his clients’ trust and winning them outstanding results.”
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF)—the very organization founded by Thurgood Marshall—sent a letter of support on Chanwoo’s behalf. Chanwoo has been working with LDF since April 2019 on the headline-grabbing I.S. v. Binghamton City School District, a lawsuit challenging illegal, intrusive, non-consensual searches of four 12–year-old Black and Latina middle school girls conducted by school officials. LDF praised Chanwoo’s work on the case, describing him as “patient in breaking down complex legal issues during meetings, comprehensive in how he prepares our clients for depositions and other appearances, and thoughtful in how he listens and advises our clients around important decisions.” Chanwoo is dedicated to bringing justice to the litigants whose schooling and lives have been seriously disrupted by the incident. The case shines a light on the pervasive and racially disproportionate discipline imposed upon students of color throughout the United States education system.
Earlier on in his career, Chanwoo volunteered to take a housing conditions case, in which he expected to represent a tenant who would be seeking a Housing Court order to repair unlawful conditions in his or her apartment. However, the case referral that Chanwoo actually accepted was representing a couple who were the lead plaintiffs in a federal RICO class action lawsuit against a landlord, who, at the time, owned approximately 15,000 apartments across New York City and were being accused of intimidating and harassing tenants in rent-regulated apartments in an attempt to empty its buildings to make way for higher-paying tenants.
With guidance from MoFo of counsel Jayson Cohen, Chanwoo vigorously pursued the case, stepping into a minefield of complex New York City and New York State housing laws and amassing a record of thousands of incidents of harassment by the landlord. While most damages awards in the case were less than $5,000, the claims administrator awarded Chanwoo’s clients a six-figure damages award.
Other cases of note that Chanwoo has dedicated his time to include appealing a federal court decision that denied disability benefits to a woman repeatedly hospitalized because of sickle cell disease, traveling to an Albany jail to help immigrant detainees prepare for their credible fear interviews as the first step in seeking asylum, and assisting with the defense of a Mexican journalist against a defamation claim brought by a former government official.
The Federal Bar Council Thurgood Marshall Pro Bono Award for Exceptional Pro Bono Service recognizes and celebrates lawyers who have demonstrated an exemplary commitment to pro bono legal services, including pro bono services in federal courts or agencies within the Second Circuit. The award was announced during the Council’s Annual Thanksgiving Luncheon, held virtually on Wednesday, November 25, 2020.
Chanwoo receives a special delivery from the firm in celebration of this great honor.