Sarah Ford | August 11, 2014

American Bar Association honors SPLC board chair

The American Bar Association is presenting Alan Howard, who chairs the SPLC’s board of directors, with its 2014 Pro Bono Publico Award to honor his commitment to serving the vulnerable and disadvantaged.

“Alan has not only demonstrated an unswerving dedication to human rights and dignity, but great legal acumen, wisdom and ingenuity,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen. “Simply put, when faced with obstacles, Alan finds a path to justice. He is well-deserving of the American Bar Association’s recognition.”

Howard, a partner in Crowell & Moring’s New York City office, is receiving the award at the ABA Annual Meeting in Boston on Aug. 9. Each year, the ABA’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service presents the award to five lawyers and institutions who “have demonstrated outstanding commitment to volunteer legal services for the poor and disadvantaged.”

Howard joined the SPLC board of directors in 2009 and was elected chair in 2013.

He is currently spearheading, on a pro bono basis, the largest human trafficking case in U.S. history – coordinating a series of lawsuits that seek justice for hundreds of “guest workers” from India. These workers were lured to the United States by false promises of permanent residency. They each paid tens of thousands of dollars to obtain temporary jobs as welders and pipefitters at Gulf Coast shipyards only to find themselves forced into involuntary servitude and living in overcrowded, guarded labor camps.

This effort came after the SPLC filed David v. Signal in 2008, against Signal International, a marine fabrication company, and a network of recruiters and labor brokers. The case already has resulted in precedent-setting decisions.

But when the court denied a class certification motion in this case, Howard refused to give up the fight for justice. 

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