PRINCETON – Reed Smith’s commitment to helping vulnerable people has been recognized by the New Jersey State Bar Association, which gave three of the law firm’s lawyers a 2022 Pillar of Justice Pro Bono Award on Feb. 15.

Princeton office partners Melissa Geist, Julia López and John McDonald accepted the award in recognition of their extensive pro bono work, which included providing legal representation to immigrant children and performing closings for families in affordable housing.

The Pillar of Justice Award recognizes significant and innovative pro bono contributions of law firms toward advancing access to justice.

Pro bono work represents Reed Smith’s values in action and is part of the firm’s mission as a global law firm. Over the course of 2021, attorneys in the firm’s Princeton office provided more than 1,800 hours of pro bono support to organizations in the state.

Some examples of this include:

  • Advocating, in partnership with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), for immigrant children in New Jersey by providing pro bono legal representation since 2014.
  • Advising HomeFront, which serves the homeless in Central New Jersey by addressing the immediate needs of families and leverages community resources to provide the skills and opportunities to break the cycle of poverty.
  • Supporting veterans on a variety of legal matters through work with the National Veterans Legal Services and Volunteer Lawyers for Justice. Reed Smith has supported VLJ for over 15 years, assisting vulnerable survivors of human trafficking and veterans.
  • Assisting low-income renters facing tenancy challenges through a partnership with Merck & Co.
  • Assisting Legal Services of Northwest Jersey by reviewing tenant case files and advising on rental assistance programs.
  • Assisting both the Arts Council of Princeton and American Repertory Ballet, advising on a range of employment issues.
  • Advising Share My Meals, a Princeton-based nonprofit that fights food insecurity and the environmental impact of food waste.

Learn more about the NJSBA Pro Bono Award winners of the year at