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First Honorable Thomas Wood Jr. Equal Access to Justice Award Presented

By Staff | Feb 11, 2009

The inaugural Honorable Thomas Wood, Jr., Equal Access to Justice Award was presented to Lycoming County lawyer William L. Knecht at the Lycoming Law Association’s 2009 Annual Banquet.

Danna Rich-Collins, of North Penn Legal Service’s Williamsport office, presented the award to Knecht based on his extraordinary volunteer work demonstrating outstanding achievement and commitment to Equal Justice for the Poor.

The occasion also marked the renaming of the Equal Access to Justice Award to The Honorable Thomas Wood, Jr., Equal Access to Justice Award, which memorializes into perpetuity the role that the late Judge Wood played in the partnership between Legal Services and the Lycoming County Bar.

Since the inception of the “official” pro bono program between Legal Services and the Lycoming Law Association in 1985, there has been recognition of the excellent participation, the sense of dedication, and the continued commitment of the members to the referral program.

The foundation for this success was laid by the Honorable Thomas Wood, Jr., in his post-judicial career as Director of Legal Services, when he made sure his staff worked with the system.

The Legal Services staff was readily accepted and their skills and expertise appreciated in large part because of the respect and the legitimacy that its Director commanded in the legal community.

The Lycoming Law Association and North Penn Legal Services felt it appropriate that the award which honors a member of the Law Association’s outstanding pro bono efforts should be named in honor of the man who made sure a partnership was forged, and a mutual respect resulted between Legal Services and the Bar Association.

In the past the Pennsylvania Bar Association has recognized the LLA’s pro bono efforts by awarding the Association the Goffman Award which is the profession’s highest honor bestowed for outstanding dedication and commitment to pro bono efforts.

The LLA mandates its members to follow their code of responsibility which imposes a duty and obligation to provide services to the indigent in their communities.

In addition to the numerous other ways that attorneys serve their communities and provide pro bono assistance, the members of the LLA who participate in the Pro Bono Referral system between North Penn Legal Services and the LLA ensure Equal Access to the poor by representing individuals who would otherwise not be able to secure legal help due to their poverty.