Seth Galanter has been named the District of Columbia Bar’s 2008 Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year. This award has been given to Mr. Galanter in recognition of his outstanding pro bono work and unwavering commitment to advocate for individuals and organizations in matters that presented novel and complex legal issues.
Mr. Galanter’s pro bono work in the past several years utilized his expertise to serve the less fortunate and disadvantaged, as reflected in the many matters that he has handled including those on behalf of children with disabilities, blind vendors, and prisoners claiming discrimination on the basis of disability.
Perhaps the pro bono matter that best reflects Mr. Galanter’s work advocating for the inclusion of persons with disabilities into the economic mainstream of life in the District of Columbia is Equal Rights Center v. District of Columbia, Civil Action No. 04-00529 (D.D.C.). The litigation challenged, on behalf of a businessman who uses a wheelchair and also an organization that represents veterans, the multiple ways in which the District excluded people who used wheelchairs from driving and parking in the District, which in turn made it more difficult for them to work and shop in the community. As lead attorney and principal strategist, Mr. Galanter litigated the case in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and reached a favorable settlement with the District that resulted in a public works program to rehabilitate District sidewalks, parking spaces, and parking meters.
In addition, Mr. Galanter argued in the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007 on behalf of his clients in a civil rights attorneys' fees case that affects civil rights plaintiffs nationwide. He has also used his expertise to take on pro bono cases under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Randolph-Sheppard Vending Stand Act, and various other civil rights statutes.
Mr. Galanter joined Morrison & Foerster’s Appellate practice in 2002 and is currently Of Counsel in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. Before entering private practice, he spent seven years as an attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where he developed a particular expertise in constitutional federalism issues.
The award is being presented to Mr. Galanter at the D.C. Bar’s 2008 annual Awards Dinner and Business Meeting.