Public Interest Law Initiative

Pro Bono Spotlight: PILI’s Pro Bono Recognition Roster

Posted on: July 30, 2014

PILI 2014 Pro Bono Recognition RosterUnderstanding the mounting legal needs of Illinois’ poor and underrepresented, and realizing the critical role that law firms and corporations play in meeting that need through pro bono legal assistance, PILI seeks to celebrate the noteworthy pro bono contributions of law firms and corporations throughout the state of Illinois through our Pro Bono Recognition Roster. The Pro Bono Recognition Roster is unveiled each year at PILI’s Annual Pro Bono Reception, which this year was held on June 18. This year, there were 32 law firms and 11 corporations named to the roster, which you can view on our website. Here is a sample, taken from the Pro Bono Recognition Roster applications, of some of the remarkable pro bono work being done in Illinois:

Arnstein & Lehr’s attorneys commit themselves to pro bono work, law reform, and professional service. Many are active contributors to legal and business publications and serve as speakers and faculty at numerous continuing legal education programs and seminars. In addition, many have achieved peer recognition by their election and appointment to leadership positions in a variety of civic, charitable, and professional organizations.  The firm and its lawyers also actively engage in pro bono activities by both contributing their time and making monetary contributions to pro bono groups and the courts.”

“In 2013, Deere & Company’s legal department continued its 12 year tradition of providing pro bono legal services to their community. The corporate legal department provided assistance on various cases through Prairie State Legal Services (PSLS), partnered with PSLS and local attorneys to provide legal services to tenants in eviction proceedings, served as judges in the Youth Service Bureau of Rock Island County’s peer justice court and assisted a sex trafficking organization in creating a video to raise awareness. Each year, the legal department holds a fundraising campaign for the two legal aid service agencies in the Quad Cities.”

“In 2013, more than 40 Drinker Biddle & Reath lawyers from our Chicago office, along with the Exelon legal department, and in conjunction with the National Immigrant Justice Center, held a pro bono clinic for Chicago area youths eligible for deferred action from the Department of Homeland Security.  Additionally, attorneys and paralegals in our office created a new legal clinic in conjunction with Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS) and Erie Neighborhood House. Drinker Biddle Chicago attorneys staff the clinic on a monthly basis at the Erie Community Center and oversee work performed by Loyola Law School students who participate in the clinics as part of a for-credit Advanced Clinic class.  The firm’s Chicago office participates in the city’s Domestic Violence Legal Clinic Pro Bono Program. The program is sponsored by the Clinic and the Circuit Court of Cook County Domestic Violence Division. In 2013, we had 29 lawyers volunteer to take on domestic violence matters and provide training for additional volunteers. Our volunteer lawyers assist victims in obtaining orders of protection. To date, we have obtained 20 emergency orders of protection and 13 plenary orders of protection for victims of domestic violence. This year, the DVLC honored our Chicago lawyers with its Certificate of Appreciation.”

Foley & Lardner’s commitment to conscience and community – established by its founding partners and still a core value to this day – includes providing quality pro bono legal services that ensures every person and organization, regardless of financial means, has access to the justice system. Foley is extremely proud of its No. 43 ranking on the AmLaw 2013 Pro Bono Scorecard – an exceptional improvement over the past six years that is the direct result of a major initiative to revitalize our dedication to pro bono service and re-establish Foley among the top pro bono firms in the country. The firm responded to the challenge in a big way: In 2013 alone, our attorneys contributed nearly 50,000 hours to pro bono service.”

Jenner & Block’s greatest pro bono accomplishments from 2013 were two housing cases that potentially will have a significant positive impact on the lives of thousands of people.  In Illinois, in the midst of a lengthy federal trial, the firm negotiated a settlement on behalf of tenants of a Section 8 housing complex that the City of Joliet sought to condemn. The settlement preserves safe, stable housing for our clients and potentially hundreds of other low-income tenants in Joliet and also helps maximize the number of affordable housing units that will remain in the city.”

Jones Day’s greatest pro bono accomplishments from 2013 were reaching an average of 80 pro bono hours per lawyer, expanding the number of agencies with which they partner and giving their lawyers wonderful experiences, all while assisting individuals who otherwise would have gone unrepresented.”
“Kirkland & Ellis is committed to providing legal services without charge to those who cannot afford counsel with the goals of improving lives, bettering communities, and deepening their attorneys’ professional experience. Kirkland has a well-supported pro bono program, and lawyers are encouraged to contribute their professional services to those pro bono causes they are passionate about. Kirkland lawyers can pursue pro bono matters dealing with a variety of issues such as immigration, homelessness, poverty, constitutional rights, election protection and family law.”

McDonald’s Corporation implemented a new pro bono program with LAF Chicago called our SNAP (Food Stamp) Pro Bono Project. It is already a huge success in only four months. In that time, McDonald’s efforts have resulted in a combined monthly benefit allotment increase of just over $1600 (which means an increase of $19,000 for the year for the clients!), as well as $3,744 in retroactive benefits. We are advised that DHS does not like to issue retroactive benefits, and these benefits tend to be difficult to obtain for clients because many workers are unfamiliar with the Policy Manual provision that allows for them. We are further advised that that these clients would not have been able to convince DHS to issue the correct benefit amount without McDonald’s assistance.”

Sidley Austin’s pro bono policy strongly urges all lawyers to devote a significant amount of time to pro bono matters. Sidley subscribes to the Pro Bono Institute’s Pro Bono Challenge and has pledged to use its best efforts to contribute annually in pro bono work an amount of time equal to three percent of the firm’s total billable hours, or 60 hours. Sidley has met that goal for the last five years. In determining the compensation of lawyers and in evaluating associates’ performance, legal work undertaken for the firm’s pro bono clients is considered the same as comparable work for the firm’s paying clients—there are no limits on pro bono hours. In 2013, Sidley lawyers, legal assistants and staff devoted over 100,000 hours to pro bono projects.”

Congratulations to these and all of the 32 law firms and 11 corporations named to PILI’s 2014 Pro Bono Recognition Roster! Your dedication to service, fairness and justice is truly making a difference in the lives of low-income people with legal needs in Illinois.


View all of PILI’s past Pro Bono Spotlights »

Stay Connected. Sign Up For Our Newsletter: