Zuckerman Spaeder Announces the Retirement of Partner Eleanor H. Smith and Appointment of Partners Steven N. Herman and Margarita K. O'Donnell Morales to Lead Pro Bono Practice

Zuckerman Spaeder LLP celebrates the achievements of longtime partner Eleanor H. Smith and wishes her well in her retirement from the firm. Ms. Smith joined Zuckerman Spaeder over 30 years ago and has led the firm’s award-winning pro bono practice since its start in 2002.

In addition to her unwavering commitment to pro bono service, Ms. Smith in her three decades at Zuckerman Spaeder handled many matters, including voting rights, campaign finance and other political activity, information access, the First Amendment, professional liability, white collar defense, and American Indian law. She is Board Secretary of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and serves on the board of directors of DC Appleseed Center for Law & Justice. 

In conjunction with the firm’s pro bono practice, Ms. Smith has led the firm’s numerous philanthropic campaigns, to which the firm contributes generously each year. The focus of these efforts is to empower legal aid societies and other non-profit organizations dedicated to protecting civil and human rights, training public defenders, and otherwise increasing access to legal services for those of limited means.

“Eleanor’s leadership of our pro bono practice is one of the principal reasons why Zuckerman Spaeder’s values translate into real action,” said Zuckerman Spaeder partner William W. Taylor. “She has been the program’s administrator and its soul for many years, and the firm and its clients will miss her greatly.”

Washington, D.C.-based partners Steven N. Herman and Margarita K. O'Donnell Morales will succeed Ms. Smith as co-chairs of Zuckerman Spaeder’s pro bono practice. They will serve as liaisons with legal service providers to coordinate pro bono engagements on behalf of the firm while maintaining their own active civil and criminal defense practices. As leaders of the firm’s pro bono efforts, Mr. Herman and Ms. O’Donnell have pro bono practices in the areas of immigration, relief from foreclosure, employment discrimination, and criminal defense. 

Reflecting on her retirement, Ms. Smith says, “Zuckerman Spaeder’s commitment to make our legal system accessible to and work for all people is unparalleled. In the firm’s 45th year, I am grateful to have helped grow the firm’s pro bono practice and look forward to seeing it flourish under its capable new leadership.”

“Eleanor is a passionate advocate and mentor. She has helped the firm maintain deep connections throughout the legal community and has put us in a strong position to build on the firm’s pro bono efforts,” adds partner and firm chairman Dwight P. Bostwick. “We are grateful for her many contributions over the years and look forward with enthusiasm to the future of the firm’s pro bono practice and our continued service to the community under Maggie and Steve’s leadership.” 

Since its founding, Zuckerman Spaeder has maintained the distinguished tradition of pro bono service. These efforts have led to numerous recognitions from bar associations, legal service providers, and community organizations. The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs (“WLC”) honored the firm with its 2020 Outstanding Achievement Award. The firm also received the D.C. Bar Law Firm of the Year Award in the category of large firms, the DC Appleseed Pro Bono Award, the WLC Vincent E. Reed Award, and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association Beacon of Justice Award. Zuckerman Spaeder’s pro bono work reflects a deeper commitment to its community, which is also evident in the firm’s philanthropic efforts on behalf of numerous legal service providers to those most in need.

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Kalie Walrath
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