At this year’s Above & Beyond Awards, Sanctuary will honor a team from Paul Weiss for their compassionate and devoted pro bono representation of “Mary” to obtain a favorable decision in a complex and highly contested order of protection case.
At this year’s Above & Beyond Awards, Sanctuary is honoring a team from Paul, Weiss, including partners Audra J. Soloway and William B. Michael, counsel Robert N. Kravitz, and former associates Arianna Markel, Paige Geier, Michael Bass, Randall Bryer and Melika Hadziomerovic for their compassionate and devoted pro bono representation of “Mary” to obtain a favorable decision in a complex and highly contested order of protection (OP) case.
In 2019, “Mary,” a mother of two young children, fled her abusive husband to live in a domestic violence shelter, filed for custody, and obtained a temporary order of protection (TOP) against her husband. Despite the sustained violence that Mary and her two children lived through, Mary’s strength carried her through lengthy and challenging legal actions and made her an inspiration for the team that represented her.
In April 2021, a pro bono team from Paul Weiss began working with Mary on her representation in a highly contested trial to seek a final OP based on the history of violence as well as multiple violations of the TOP. The trial team was primarily led by Audra Soloway, Arianna Markel, and Paige Geier, with Arianna serving as lead counsel for the trial. In April 2022, Mary and the team successfully obtained a 5-year OP, as well as findings that the abuser had violated the TOP and committed several family offenses. In October 2022, the abuser appealed the decision to the First Department. Bob Kravitz, Bill Michael, Paige Geier, and Michael Bass successfully handled the appeal, with the First Department affirming the family court’s decision.
The Paul, Weiss team demonstrated great dedication to the case and to Mary. Their excellent legal skills, strategic thinking, and continuous time commitment were essential to supporting Mary and obtaining a favorable outcome. The team worked tirelessly with Mary to prepare for trial, conducting numerous practice and strategy sessions. The OP trial involved a challenging direct examination of Mary on the history of domestic violence and sexual abuse, conducted by Arianna, as well as a difficult cross-examination. The team’s advocacy was instrumental in enabling Mary to tell her story over the objections of extremely aggressive opposing counsel. In his decision, the judge specifically noted Mary’s credibility and composure, in contrast to the respondent. Importantly, the team’s consistent support of Mary through the emotional challenge and the frustration that result from having to navigate the uncertainty of these processes was key for the outcome.
“This case has involved a massive amount of time and dedication, both in the legal work conducted and in the intensive work with the client. Arianna’s preparation work for the OP trial, and her ability to withstand intensive objections by opposing counsel was remarkable. Paige has been extraordinarily client-centered, patient, collaborative and sensitive.”
-Jennifer Friedman, Director of Family Law and Policy for Sanctuary for Families’ practices in the Bronx and Manhattan Family Justice Centers
Paige Geier, who was a junior associate when she began working on the case, emphasized how valuable this experience was for her as a young lawyer. Paige said that “it was pretty incredible” for her to learn from the knowledgeable members of the team, including from Jennifer. In October 2021, Paige successfully argued against a fourth substitution of counsel for the respondent father.
“Not only was I able to learn so much about family law from talking to Jennifer, but her way of working, which makes her thought-process visible, was extremely valuable to me. I also appreciated that she put a lot of trust in me as a young associate and was totally supportive. Watching her work with the client and showing so much empathy has made me a better lawyer.”
From her new firm Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman, P.C., Paige is now leading the custody and visitation trial, which began in January of this year, an illustration of her extraordinary dedication to the case.
Mary’s resilience is an inspiration for the team.
“I watched Mary have her life on hold, but she kept her head up and that has given so much energy to the team. Mary is one of the strongest people I have ever met. It is so amazing getting to work with her and to represent her. She is an amazing mom: hearing her talk about her children and everything she does for them is incredible. She recently went back to school to get a degree and is crushing it! She has been student of the month, and her hard work has been recognized by her teachers and peers.”
Sanctuary is incredibly grateful for the invaluable pro bono work of this amazing and supportive team.
Join us at our Above & Beyond Awards Ceremony on October 25, 2023, as we honor Paul Weiss’s outstanding pro bono work.
Silvia Marroquin is an associate in the international arbitration practice of Chaffetz Lindsey in New York and a member of Sanctuary’s Pro Bono Council.