Legal Aid of Western Missouri announced Shook Partner Pat Kenney and Associate John Constance as the 2021 recipients of its prestigious “Robert Welch Volunteer Attorney Project Award” in recognition of the pro bono legal assistance they provided to a struggling Platte County family victimized by predatory lending practices. With the assistance of Legal Aid attorneys and staff, Constance and Kenney succeeded in defeating a judicial foreclosure and quiet title action, allowing the clients to remain in their home free and clear of their prior $250,000+ mortgage debt.
“If they had not been in a position to have John’s advocacy with the court, they would be out on the street right now,” said Kenney. “John deserves great credit for the work he did in Court. My role was just to make sure I could provide some advice along the way. But for the most part this is a success story due to the work of John.”
The case presented a variety of litigation challenges, including a unique counterclaim-on-counterclaim attempt by the plaintiff after the court granted Shook’s motion to dismiss the petition with prejudice. Yet after the court entered final judgment in the client’s favor, the plaintiff did not appeal.
“To our knowledge they are still in the home today with no mortgage payments,” said Constance, who lauded Legal Aid for starting the case and partnering with Shook. “Working with Legal Aid is a mutually beneficial relationship. We help them out when they are overloaded but they also help us out because they give us great cases on which to work.”
Kenney encourages lawyers no matter what level in their careers to take on potentially life-altering pro bono matters.
“Pro bono is an area where you really get to see how the law can change the lives of people,” said Kenney. “That can seem somewhat attenuated when you are working on a business dispute. But in the context of helping a family stay in their home, you really understand what the law can do.”
Legal Aid of Western Missouri will recognize Kenney and Constance with the “Robert Welch Volunteer Attorney Project Award” at its annual “Party With a Purpose” event, currently scheduled for November 4, 2021.