THE INDIVIDUAL PRO BONO AWARD
is presented in recognition of the individual’s consistent and diligent representation of pro bono clients.
Carl Palmer, McCune, Godfrey & Emerick
While this annual award recognizes Palmer for his work in the past year, Palmer has been a pillar in the
pro bono volunteer community for more than a decade. Since 1998, Palmer has provided pro bono legal
service in some 113 cases for the KCBA’s various legal services programs. Over the years, he has primarily
volunteered at the Housing Justice Project (HJP), but in 2001 Palmer also was recognized by the KCBA for
his tireless contributions in providing legal advocacy for other Community Legal Services programs.
"Carl’s breadth of experience on condominium law, zoning and other real estate issues serves him well in
analyzing complex cases and fi nding innovative solutions," said Merf Ehman, former HJP director. Palmer’s
successful history of defending the rights of low-income tenants in unlawful detainer actions has helped
countless clients and benefited their lives for the better.
In addition to Ehman, those who have had the privilege of working with Palmer are eager to praise his dedication,
his knowledge and his professionalism. It becomes clear that there are some universal truths about
He is known and admired for his ability to relay the harsh realities to tenants in a compassionate, respectful
and honest manner. He is an inspiration to other volunteer attorneys because he is undaunted by the occasional
HJP clients who have behavior issues. He is willing to take on even the most complex and bizarre
case, if it means helping a tenant save his or her home. Palmer has even tackled a case involving goats,
blackberries, dogs and land-use issues, along with nonpayment of rent, and managed to successfully advocate
for his client based on a constructive eviction theory.
But perhaps the most touching are the real life stories where, through Palmer’s legal advocacy, a life was
affected for the better. In a recent case, Palmer helped two elderly and disabled sisters negotiate a settlement
with the City of Seattle regarding the abatement of their family home. The sisters were trying to secure
a loan to correct the defects before the City condemned the house, but were ineffective. The settlement
enabled the sisters to make the needed repairs by helping them obtain a fair home-improvement loan. The
sisters were able to keep their home, which was their only real asset.
In this case, as with all of his pro bono work, Palmer demonstrates tremendous concern and compassion for
clients in need, while defending their legal rights with expertise, experience and true professionalism.
According to Ehman, "Carl’s combination of tireless compassion, realistic optimism and passion for justice is
what serves all of his clients so well." Palmer has earned the KCBA pro bono award. His selfl ess dedication
to helping the poor is commendable as much as it is inspirational; not only for attorneys, but for the countless
indigent clients he’s helped over the years and will continue to serve in the future.