The D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center was saddened to learn recently of the passing of attorney Brian Bannon, one of the Center’s most dedicated and beloved volunteers.
A partner at the Blank Rome law firm whose practice focused on intellectual property rights in government contracts, Brian gave generously of his time and expertise by counseling small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs at nearly every Pro Bono Center Small Business Brief Advice Legal Clinic for ten years.
He also earned the deep appreciation and respect of his younger colleagues, whom he frequently mentored in both their pro bono and law firm work.
Brian began volunteering with the Pro Bono Center’s Small Business Clinic in 2004, and quickly became one of the clinic’s regular and most popular volunteers.
He rarely missed a clinic, and would make sure to call the Pro Bono Center to apologize when he did. Willing to counsel attendees on basic questions about starting a business as well as complex intellectual property issues, Brian brought an old-school professionalism to the clinic, always appearing in a suit and tie.
He quickly earned the trust and appreciation of those he counseled with his quietly attentive and engaged approach, and was often requested by name by clinic attendees whom he had advised in the past.
“Brian embodied the best qualities of our volunteers,” says Pro Bono Center Managing Attorney Darryl Maxwell, who worked with Brian at numerous clinics. “He had a personal passion for helping others, and a commitment to the idea that good-quality legal advice should be available to all – not just to those who can afford to pay for it.”
In addition to his legal expertise, Brian brought an unfailing good humor and commitment to his volunteer work with the Pro Bono Center. At a Small Business Clinic that saw a record 107 attendees, Brian stayed until 11:30 pm to ensure that every registrant was able to meet with an attorney.
At another clinic, a pouring rainstorm greeted volunteers as they left the clinic, and Brian gamely donned an emergency raincoat fashioned from a trash bag. Brian’s service to the clinic went beyond his advice to attendees, as he often invited attorneys new to pro bono work to learn from him by sitting in on his meetings with attendees.
In addition to his regular appearance at the Small Business Clinic, Brian also helped staff the Pro Bono Center’s monthly Advice and Referral Clinic.
Brian leaves his wife, Hedy, his three children, and two grandchildren. He will be deeply missed by the Pro Bono Center, by the many aspiring entrepreneurs he counseled, and by the young attorneys he mentored.