New York Times Portraits of Grief

Matthew G. Leonard

Matthew G. Leonard was the kind of lawyer who would join a homeless man in singing Christmas carols in downtown Brooklyn, successfully drawing contributions from charmed passers-by. "He probably was the kindest law clerk I ever had," said Peter Leisure, a federal district judge in Manhattan.

Mr. Leonard, 38, had done well as a lawyer, rising to director of litigation for Cantor Fitzgerald. But he was also known for extensive pro bono work, largely at MFY Legal Services. He started working there as an intern, helping poor Chinatown residents while he was at Columbia Law School, and served for more than a decade on its board, including five years as vice chairman.

On Sept. 11, he rose early, as he always did, well before his 7-month-old daughter, Christina, had awakened. "He said he got more work done before the phones started ringing at 9," said his wife, Yolanda Cerda Leonard, who had met him when she was a paralegal and he a lawyer at Willkie Farr & Gallagher, a Manhattan law firm. As he left their Brooklyn apartment to go to his office high in the World Trade Center, his wife looked at the clock. It said 7:11 a.m.