In 1986, the VLSP Board of Directors created the William E. McKnight Volunteer Service Award, to be given annually to a volunteer attorney or attorneys whose pro bono service reflects the commitment to equal justice that Bill McKnight’s life exemplified. Bill McKnight was a dedicated pro bono attorney and valued member of the VLSP board at the time of his death in 1985. During the early years of VLSP, Bill was the VLSP immigration panel. In other words, he was just about the only source of representation for poor people in Rochester with immigration problems. In addition to accepting many difficult and complex cases for people facing serious immigration problems, he devoted a great deal of time to the VLSP board, helping to build the organization in its early years. He was the first African American partner with Nixon Hargrave and perhaps at any sizable firm in New York outside of New York City.
McKnight Awards Criteria
(1) Pro bono service reflects the commitment to equal justice that Bill McKnight's life exemplified.
(2) Volume and scope of work that so many lawyers in this community are performing for low-income people.
(3) Nominees fairly represent large, medium, small firms and solo practitioners and corporations.