|The Onondaga County
Bar Association nominates George H. Lowe, Esq., to
receive the 2002 Presidential Award for Pro Bono Service
in the Fifth Judicial District. Mr. Lowe has made pro
bono an integral part of his practice, weaving it into
every corner of his professional life.
He was instrumental in raising
consciousness and bringing a cohesive plan for pro
bono to our county bar association in 1990 as a
co-author of the original grant proposal to IOLA,
resulting in receipt of seed money to start the
Volunteer Lawyers Project. He has been a strong
proponent of providing pro bono legal services for the
indigent in the Fifth Judicial District.
Pro Bono Work in 2001 and
Significance of Service to Clients
Along with his more than 11 years
serving on the Association’s Pro Bono Practice
Committee, Mr. Lowe has retained a strong belief that
indigent tenants deserve competent representation when
threatened with eviction from their homes. Since March
2001, Mr. Lowe has appeared in Syracuse City Court
nearly once a week defending tenants in summary eviction
proceedings, providing a total of 55.75 hours of direct
representation. In this time period, he handled 96
cases, affecting 292 family members. In many cases, he
negotiated settlements that provided tenants with
additional time to relocate their families, or allowed
the tenants to stay in their homes.
One case in particular illustrates
the professional commitment that Mr. Lowe has brought to
his pro bono work. A tenant on whose behalf he had
negotiated an agreement returned to court the following
Monday to report that the landlord had not honored the
agreement. Eviction was to occur at 2:30 p.m. that same
afternoon. Mr. Lowe visited the City Marshall’s
office, where the clerk agreed to look into the
situation and get back to him. She called shortly
thereafter and said that, absent a court-ordered stay,
the eviction would proceed. Mr. Lowe then contacted the
judge who had been on the bench when the settlement
agreement was reached. The judge advised him that, if he
could get an affidavit and proposed order to show cause
to him or any other judge, a stay would be considered.
After reaching the tenant by phone, he prepared the
documents and then met the tenant at 1:15 p.m. to get
the affidavit signed. He proceeded to the Marshall’s
office to alert them and then immediately moved on to
the judges’ chambers where he was able to get the
Order to Show Cause signed. Mr. Lowe served it on the
Marshall at 1:55 p.m. and successfully averted the
Mr. Lowe has always put his
clients first, providing them with his phone number when
it appears that future assistance might be necessary,
thus standing behind the settlements he negotiates on
behalf of his clients and preserving their dignity
throughout the process.
His skill in providing the voice
of reason between landlords and tenants who, in many
cases, have lost the ability to communicate with each
other, is noteworthy in the unruffled way he negotiates
an agreeable outcome to both parties.
Contributions to Establishment or
Expansion of Pro Bono Programs
Mr. Lowe also serves as a member
of the Board of Directors of the Onondaga County Bar
Foundation. In that capacity, he has been instrumental
in forging an agreement between the Foundation and the
Association for the commitment of resources from each to
fund the operations of the Volunteer Lawyers Project.
Indeed, the structure for future matching support is
based on a memorandum now commonly referred to as
"the Lowe Proposal." This arrangement has
provided a basis for expanding program initiatives, even
in the face of declining IOLA funding.
Mr. Lowe remains a role model in
the Fifth Judicial District who performs many hours of
pro bono work each year. It is the trademark of his
leadership style to set an example for lawyers at all
levels of professional attainment.
For all of the above reasons, we
nominate George Lowe for the Fifth Judicial District’s
Presidential Pro Bono Service Award.