👋 Hello! It looks like you're visiting from the US. Do you want to visit our American site?
👋 Hello! It looks like you're visiting from the UK. Do you want to visit our UK site?
👋 Hello! It looks like you're visiting from Australia. Do you want to visit our Australian site?

Meet the 2024 Beacon Award Finalists

Katharine Uhrich

Written by

Katharine Uhrich


June 24, 2024

Beacon Award

We’re thrilled to introduce the 2024 Smokeball Beacon Award Finalists. These nine community heroes were selected for the Beacon Award because of their exemplary legal services and pro bono work.  

Our finalists’ innovative approaches to providing access for justice have positively impacted families going through transition, those facing foreclosure, gender-diverse individuals, veterans, and many others.

Colleen Contreras, Arizona Family Law Ranch
Colleen and her team of family law attorneys are known for their compassionate approach, treating every client like family. Colleen’s firm offers extensive pro bono services, including free consultations and a monthly "pro bono Saturday" for qualifying clients. Their innovative programs, such as the Ranch Program, help families facing transition improve communication and emotional regulation. Colleen's team provides unparalleled support, earning them outstanding reviews and a reputation for exceptional customer service and dedication to the community.

Ted Donner, Donner & Company Law Offices LLC
Ted, incoming chair for the Illinois Bar Foundation's law school clinics grants committee, is dedicated to supporting law students in public interest work. He launched DuPage Legal Answers for pro se litigants and received the PILI Pro Bono Service Award for DuPage County in 2022. Additionally, Ted takes pro bono cases for the federal district court, volunteers his time to Illinois Free Legal Answers, and organizes fundraisers for the Pro Bono Network. His ongoing commitment to pro bono work and legal assistance programs makes a substantial community impact.

Molly Hargrove, Longman Jakuback, APLC
Molly assists Longman Jakuback in consistently dedicating over 1,000 pro bono hours annually to more than 24 cases that focus on corruption and advocating for fair legal processes. The team has challenged local court systems to ensure fair bail practices and provide unwavering support to clients during difficult times. Known for treating clients with dignity and respect, Molly and her firm strive to deliver justice and compassionate representation to all.

Candice Iheme, Law Office of Candice E. Iheme
Active in numerous community organizations, Candice offers free consultations daily through her law firm and assists with landlord-tenant issues in New Jersey's backlogged courts. She helps people with their pro se applications and directs them to other pro bono services where they can get free representation. She also dedicates anywhere from 2-12 hours a week working for the Office of Public Defender. Her tireless dedication helps those who cannot afford attorneys receive the legal support they need, fulfilling her commitment to justice.

Andrea Keifer, California Modern Divorce
Andrea, founder of California Modern Divorce, provides family law assistance for low to moderate-income clients. Using a pricing model based on a paralegal hourly rate, Andrea partners with a lawyer who can consult on cases and create a legal strategy for the litigants in a cost-effective manner. By combining affordable paralegal rates with legal expertise, California Modern Divorce’s innovative model ensures litigants receive comprehensive support in property, spousal & child support, and custody matters. This hybrid model represents a significant advancement in accessible family law services, benefiting those who might otherwise go unrepresented.  

Mikye Miller, MJ Miller Law
Mikye has centered his legal practice around pro bono work since 2010. Recognized as Pro Bono Attorney of the Year by Nevada Legal Services in 2012 and 2023, he has dedicated over 100 hours annually to pro bono and reduced-fee services. Mikye has successfully taken pro bono cases to trial, represented minors in guardianships, and actively supports the LGBTQIA+ community by offering free legal services for name changes. His commitment to helping those in need extends to organizing free legal clinics, volunteering monthly at "ask a lawyer" clinics, and offering legal education to the gender diverse community on the name change process and associated resources.  

Anthony Naro, Bernazzani Law PLLC
Anthony has dedicated significant time to pro bono work, contributing 62 hours in 2023 and 33 hours thus far in 2024, primarily through 603 Legal Aid. He assists with expunging criminal records and obtaining domestic violence protection orders. Anthony volunteers his time in several other ways. He serves as the President of Friends of New Hampshire Drug Courts, which provides financial support to recovery court participants. Additionally, he is a member of the New Hampshire Board of Governors, which promotes access to justice in the community.

Jerry Novak, Jerald Novak & Associates Attorneys at Law
Jerry dedicates his expertise to teaching trial advocacy pro bono to Ukrainian law students. Collectively they seek to change the Ukrainian legal system to reduce the corruption that exists with bench trials to ultimately support Ukraine's European Union and NATO membership ambitions. Additionally, Jerry mentors new lawyers from the University of Illinois Law School, providing guidance on professional development and work-life balance. His mentorship involves at least two hours per month, fostering the growth of young legal professionals.

Scott Walker, SK Walker Law, LLC
Scott is deeply committed to serving veterans through his firm’s extensive pro bono work. SK Walker Law offers a 10% discount on legal services for all veterans and collaborates with charitable organizations like This Able Veteran and the Scottish Rite to provide crucial legal assistance. Scott also volunteers on the Economics Advisory Board at Southern Illinois University. His firm dedicates 100+ hours of pro bono work per year and has assisted in raising thousands of dollars to support charitable organizations that are increasing access to justice for veterans and others.

Beacon Award finalists make a significant impact on their clients and communities every day without expecting recognition. But here at Smokeball, we believe selfless acts are worth recognizing. These nine legal professionals are in the running for the Beacon Grand Prize Award: a $2,500 check and a matching $2,500 donation to the legal aid organization of their choice.  

They’re also eligible for the People's Choice Award. Support these community heroes by voting for one finalist. Voting closes July 8 and is open to the public.

Winners will be announced July 15. Follow Smokeball on LinkedIn to be the first to hear who wins!

Related Product Content

Smokeball Beacon Award Winners

Meet the 2023 Beacon Award Winners

No items found.
No items found.

Book Your Free Demo

Ready to see how Smokeball client intake software helps you Run Your Best Firm? Schedule your free demo!

This field is required.

This field is required.

This field is required.

This field is required.

This field is required.

This field is required.

This field is required.

Your personal data is kept confidential.
For details on our data practices, see our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

More from the Smokeball blog

Subscribe to Our Newsletter