Jonathan Silverblatt '91

New York City, Pro Bono Pro

Jonathan SilverblattJonathan Silverblatt '91 devotes most of his billable hours at a large Manhattan law firm to mergers and acquisitions, corporate financings, and other high-octane transactions of the business world. But then there are the hours he’s spent on behalf of experimental filmmakers like Stan Brakhage, Jonas Mekas, and Todd Haynes.

“It was a distressing situation,” Silverblatt says of the pro bono work he did for the Millennium Film Workshop, a venerable but cash-strapped nonprofit resource for filmmakers whose work is not destined for the local multiplex. “They really needed someone to help them.”

Silverblatt has been providing free assistance to nonprofits for most of his legal career. He set his sights on Brooklyn Law School after taking a class in constitutional law at Sarah Lawrence with former sociology faculty member James Bowen.
”I was able to be involved in a transaction that helps … presence part of New York’s cultural heritage.”
During his undergraduate years, Silverblatt also studied history, political science, and Russian literature, and he spent his junior year abroad in the former Soviet Union. Today, he’s the partner in charge of pro bono work for the New York office of Dorsey & Whitney. Last year, Silverblatt received the Cornerstone Award from the public interest law firm Lawyers Alliance for New York in recognition of his efforts on behalf of nonprofits, including the Alliance for Coney Island and the Millennium Film Workshop.

“Millennium decided to sell their archive, which was sort of their crown jewel. It was either that or possibly go out of business,” he says. He negotiated the sale of the archive to the Museum of Modern Art.

“One of the great things about New York City, obviously, is the culture,” Silverblatt says, “and here I was able to be involved in a transaction that helps in small measure to support and preserve part of New York’s cultural heritage.”