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May 2011 Archives

May 20, 2011

The Good We Do: Angela Winfield

There are very few four-year olds who know exactly what they want to do with their life.

But, even then, Angela Winfield knew she wanted to be a lawyer.

She identified with the assertive, yet equally nurturing Claire Huxtable from "The Cosby Show" and made a law career her life's goal.

As focused and driven as she is sharp, Winfield followed her dream and went on to attend Cornell Law School. She is now a successful litigation associate in Hiscock & Barclay's Syracuse office.

But this is just one part to Winfield's story.

Throughout her life, Winfield has coped with many extraordinary challenges.

She lost vision in her left eye at age 10 and was completely blind by her sophomore year at Barnard College.

Remarkably, Winfield has not let these hardships stand in the way of her dreams.

She commutes an hour daily by bus to her office each way, with the help of a cane and her seeing-eye dog, Ogden.

Early in her law career and despite a heavy caseload, Winfield has donated many hours of pro bono services.

She represents tenants facing eviction in Housing Court for the Onondaga County Bar's Eviction Defense Clinic.

She second-chaired a pro bono wrongful eviction trial in State Supreme Court which the jury awarded her client a significant recovery. She also successfully argued an appeal before the Fourth Department for a Cayuga County not-for-profit organization.

Winfield's disability gave her unique insight and empathy for a blind client. Her client was thrilled not only to have quality representation, but also an attorney who understood exactly what she was going through.

Partners at her firm note her good rapport with clients and her ability to litigate tough cases.

Winfield received the State Bar's 2011 President's Pro Bono Service Award honoring a Young Lawyer.

The Good We Do: Eric Blinderman

"If I owe my life to somebody in this world, that one will be you. You did not give me another chance to only live, but you gave hope and opportunity to my old sick parents so they may live to see me safe and rebuilding my life again."

So wrote a former Iraqi translator for the United States in a letter to Eric Blinderman of New York City.

Blinderman heads Proskauer's Iraqi Human Rights Project that has helped 400 Iraqi translators, drivers, and logisticians who supported United States interests in Iraq, find refuge here.

He has devoted nearly 2,400 hours to the three-year project, including 570 hours in 2010. His work earned him the State Bar's 2011 President's Pro Bono Service Award for the First Judicial District.

In the case of the translator, he fled Iraq to the Czech Republic after unknown insurgents targeted him as a collaborator and traitor because of his work with the United States.

When the Czech Republic deported him to Iraq, he returned home to his family. Insurgents smeared blood on his door with a message that read, "Death to the Traitor." The translator's parents and sisters fled to another city.

He then called Blinderman who encouraged him to move to various safe houses, while Blinderman contacted people to help the translator flee Iraq permanently. The two communicated in Arabic and by text messages.

As a result of the efforts of Blinderman, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and various other government agencies, the translator was able to enter Amman, Jordan, and later the United States.

This is just one of 160 cases and one of many people whom Blinderman has assisted.

If not for a chance email from fellow Cornell Law alum Eric Pelofsky, Blinderman might never have discovered his life's work.

That email led to Blinderman assisting the U.S. government in Baghdad with the trial of Saddam Hussein, where he spent the next three years of his career.

In 2007, he returned to the firm with a new mission: helping former translators and drivers seeking to leave Iraq as a result of threats they had received while working for the U.S.

Today, Blinderman leads a team of more than 60 Proskauer lawyers and staff who help Iraqis whose lives are in danger. Blinderman plays an integral role in each case that requires creative, strategic thinking and tenacious advocacy.

Leading by example and demonstrating genuine concern for his clients, he has inspired dozens of other lawyers to get involved and donate their services.

Receiving many late night calls and desperate emails from asylum seekers, Blinderman has never turned anyone away.

Unsurprisingly, most of his clients see him both as a lawyer and trusted friend.

In his words:

"If you're holding a life vest in your hand and you see someone drowning, when, or is there ever a time, that you're morally permitted to walk away? I think the answer to that is never."

About May 2011

This page contains all entries posted to The Good We Do in May 2011. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 2010 is the previous archive.

June 2011 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.