November 1, 2001
The Editor interviews Partner Robert E. Crotty, full-time commercial litigator and pro bono partner of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP.
Editor: What has Kelley Drye done to help the victims of the disaster?
Crotty: When the Twin Tower disaster occurred, Kelley Drye became active immediately. We were contacted by a client, Keefe Bruyette & Woods, which is an investment banking company that was on the 88th and 89th floors of 2 World Trade Center. Since the day of the attacks, we have been providing services to the families of missing employees. Keefe Bruyette had 172 employees in the World Trade Center, and about 67 did not survive the attack. So we have been working with those families on an ongoing basis. We have had seven people helping them, mainly in the areas of trust and estates, and employee benefits.
Kelley Drye also started a fund for mental health services to help the families of the victims at Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers. Because we wanted to do something that would help the families, we contacted St. Vincent's, one of our clients. As a major New York City hospital, over the years St. Vincent's has provided emergency services to many people hurt in crisis situations, such as the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and, of course, after the most recent attacks. We were able to fund a mental health service for families of the victims. Many partners and employees have made individual contributions to St. Vincent's, as well as to other funds established to aid the families of victims.
Editor: Is Kelley Drye working with the Association of the Bar of the City of New York?
Crotty: Yes. The Association of the Bar of the City of New York has a major pro bono initiative. The Bar Association asked for an associate full time for six months, Kelley Drye immediately asked for volunteers and had many responses. Our Associate, Stacy Mosesso, started full time to help coordinate the Bar Association's efforts on October 2, 2001. She will be there for six months helping to coordinate the effort.
We have had 26 people volunteer for the effort of the Association of the Bar on a part-time basis. That effort directs people from the bar association to the volunteers who handle individual needs such as death certificates, employee benefits, wills and guardianships. For instance, one of my partners has a case where the client's cousin died leaving a small child. The cousin needs to get guardianship papers in order to take care of the child. There is also a pro bono effort to help small businesses. Some companies were put out of business because their locations were destroyed, others did not have utilities so they could not conduct business, and others had utilities but no customers. So there is an effort to help those people obtain whatever benefits and remedies are available to them.
Editor: Have you provided space for clients or others in need?
Crotty: Kelley Drye has also provided space as well as secretarial and Internet services to 14 employees of the New York State Banking Department. We have made space available to at least one litigator from the New York State Attorney General's office. The firm itself has also made available counseling to our employees who have been impacted directly or indirectly.
Editor: It sounds as though your firm has played a major role.
Crotty: I hope that we have. On a more personal note, we know of many Kelley Drye people who are helping family members with the myriad tasks now before them. Others have volunteered their time in other ways. We are willing to help out as much as we can and I think the legal community as a whole is more than willing to do that. Kelley Drye did try to get a running start in helping out in this tragedy, and I think that we were successful. We have not finished because the need is ongoing.