Christina Stueve Hodges Oct. 25, 2012, 5:36pm

As part of the local legal community's commemoration of "Pro Bono Week," the Madison County Bar Association presented Elizabeth “Nikki” Carrion of Edwardsville with the Joseph Bartylak Pro Bono Public Service award for providing free legal assistance to the poor and vulnerable in the community.

Joan Spiegel, managing attorney at Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, highlighted Carrion’s pro bono contribution. “She has provided hundreds of hours of uncompensated high quality legal representation to many clients in highly contested and complicated cases,” Spiegel explained.

The Bar association recognized the Simmons Firm of Alton, with the Joseph Bartylak Pro Bono Public Service Award for pro bono work, representing children and the disabled in probate, family, and custody cases. In the last year, Simmons’ attorneys represented 25 minors or disabled people in court. Simmons attorneys also provided representation in divorce cases and provided free legal advice at the Legal Advice Center at the Madison County Courthouse.

The Madison County Bar Association and the Third Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee also honored on Oct. 23 more than 190 attorneys for their pro bono work over the past year.

Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder, chair of the Third Judicial Pro Bono Committee, said the need for legal assistance is growing and the importance of attorney involvement in providing pro bono legal assistance is critical with an increasing number of home foreclosures and job losses.

“Lawyers share a commitment to ensure the availability of legal assistance to Illinois’ citizens in need,” she said.

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