Mazzoni Center Legal Services Honors Two Trailblazing Philadelphia Judges and the Firm of Dechert LLP at 4th Annual Open Bar Event

On Wednesday, February 27, Mazzoni Center Legal Services hosted the fourth annual Open Bar event at the National Liberty Museum in Old City.  More than 100 people attended this year’s event, which raised over $10,000 for Mazzoni’s Legal Services department. 

The afternoon CLE (Continuing Legal Education) session was followed by a reception on the Museum’s fourth floor, the highlight of which was the presentation of our annual awards.   

This year’s Mazzoni Center Justice in Action Awards went to the Hon. Daniel Anders and the Hon. Ann Butchart, both of whom have been pioneers and role models within the legal profession, as the city’s first openly LGBT judges.  This year also marked the inaugural presentation of the Amicus Award, which was given to Dechert LLP, in recognition of the firm’s ongoing commitment to diversity and their support of our legal services program.  Dechert attorney Jeffery Boles accepted the award on behalf of the firm. 

“It was my deep pleasure to recognize these two individuals, both of whom have made significant contributions to the LGBT community throughout their legal careers, and who in their roles as public figures have set a tremendous example for others to follow,” Mazzoni Center Legal Director David Rosenblum said.  

Speaking of the Amicus Award, he added: “This award was a terrific opportunity to recognize the contributions of our friends at Dechert LLP, who have demonstrated a sincere commitment to the mission of our program, and provided both material and pro bono support which has been incredibly helpful in sustaining our work this year.” 

About our Honorees

The Hon. Daniel J. Anders was appointed to the Court of Common Pleas in 2007 by then-Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell, making him the first openly gay man ever to be appointed to a judicial office in the Commonwealth.  He spent several years in the Family Court division, hearing the cases of children who are under the supervision of the Department of Human Services – who are among the most at-risk children in the city. Prior to becoming a judge, Anders was a litigator with Pepper Hamilton LLP, and spent more than 300 hours a year providing free legal advice and counsel to community organizations and individuals, with a special focus on LGBT issues.  His pro bono clients included the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, Equality Advocates Pennsylvania, and Philly Pride.  In 2005 he defended a local LGBT ordinance that was being challenged in Allentown, Pa.   In addition, Anders has served on the boards of a number of legal and community organizations in Philadelphia, including the Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights, the Mayor's LGBT Advisory Board, Liberty City Democrats, and Out Front.  He has been recognized by the Pennsylvania Bar Association with its Pro Bono Service Award, and received the Michael Greenberg Award from Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia (GALLOP).

When the Hon. Ann M. Butchart won her race for Common Pleas Court Judge in 2005, she became the first-ever openly gay person to be elected to office in Philadelphia.  Since then, she has served as a trial judge in family court for the Court of Common Pleas. The position capped a lifetime of service to the community, and to LGBT Philadelphians in particular.  Butchart graduated from Rosemont College in 1973 and from Temple University Beasley School of Law in 1993. Prior to her election to the judiciary, she was a sole practitioner who maintained offices in Center City and Kensington.  The focus of her practice was civil matters, including Social Security Disability, personal bankruptcy, employee benefit claims, estate administration and zoning for nonprofit community groups.  Butchart has been active in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, community since the 1980s. She served as interim director of the Philadelphia Lesbian and Gay Task Force, a board member of the Liberty City Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club and president of the Philadelphia chapter of Dignity, the national organization of LGBT Catholics. She has also been a member of GALLOP (Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia), and has served on the board of the William Way LGBT Community Center.  She has also volunteered as a “buddy” with the Action AIDS organization, and worked with the Bethel House, a group home for LGBT children in South Philadelphia who have been abandoned by their parents.

Dechert LLP is a leading international law firm with 26 offices in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Founded in 1875, the firm has more than 900 lawyers, numerous top-ranked practices and an impressive global footprint.  Their lawyers represent major players on the world economic scene in headline-making matters requiring in-depth experience, deft strategic thinking and a solid grasp of the big picture.  The firm has a longstanding tradition of providing pro bono legal services to individuals and organizations who cannot otherwise afford legal counsel. Lawyers in all their offices and practice groups make a difference every day by contributing their talents to providing pro bono legal services.  Dechert’s firm-wide Diversity Committee is focused on translating the firm’s diversity commitment into action by developing and supporting new initiatives in the areas of leadership, recruiting, retention, professional development and community outreach.  In 2012 Dechert received a perfect score of 100 from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) in its annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI), which measures a company’s employer benefits and protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees and their families as well as a “demonstrated corporate commitment to LGBT equality.”

Support for “Open Bar IV” was generously provided by gold sponsor Dechert LLP, and bronze sponsors Mel Heifetz, Arthur M. Kaplan and R. Duane Perry, and the Mazzoni Center Legal Advisory Board.