On December 1st, PILI will recognize three outstanding individuals and one organization for their dedication to pro bono work within the community. PILI’s Annual Awards Luncheon brings together the Illinois legal community every year to celebrate the very best aspects of the legal profession: the generosity, expertise and commitment of the countless lawyers, law students, legal professionals, law firms and corporations who dedicate themselves to providing legal assistance to those in need. This year’s event will be a hybrid event allowing both virtual and in-person participation.
Congratulations to the awardees for their commitment to and leadership in ensuring equal access to justice for all!
Distinguished PILI Intern Alum: James Brady
James Brady was a 1990 PILI Law Student Intern at Legal Aid Chicago (then known as Legal Assistance Foundation) and has been there ever since. James began as a staff attorney in 1991 at the Englewood Office on Chicago’s southside. In 1995, he moved to the Southside office and in 2004, to the Homeownership Preservation Project. He is now a Supervisory Attorney in the Consumer Practice Group at Legal Aid Chicago. James’ practice focuses on bankruptcy, home ownership, and consumer fraud. In addition to having served many hundreds of clients over the years, Jim has a passion for mentoring younger attorneys, thus leveraging his own experience, and enabling others to better serve their clients. For several years, Jim has been on the Legal Aid Chicago Fall Class Hiring Committee, and has helped to coordinate the training of our new attorneys. He is a 1988 graduate of the University of Michigan and a 1991 graduate of the DePaul University College of Law.
Distinguished PILI Fellow Alum: Precious Jacobs-Perry
Precious Jacobs-Perry was a 2009 PILI Graduate Fellow at the Greater Chicago Legal Clinic (GCLC). She was sponsored by Jenner & Block, where she still works as an equity partner in the Litigation Department. Precious primarily represents clients in Class Action, Complex Commercial and Bankruptcy Litigation matters. She also counsels clients on a variety of legal issues related to data privacy. She now serves on GCLC’s board of directors and has a robust pro bono practice. Precious recently worked to create a pro bono partnership between Jenner & Block, a firm client, and the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund to help obtain legal name changes for transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary people. She has also advocated for women’s rights through the #MeToo Movement by representing women who have been subjected to sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. She graduated cum laude from New York University in 2005 and magna cum laude from the University of Illinois College of Law in 2009.
Pro Bono Initiative Award: Abbott
Abbott’s Legal Division has a long-standing commitment to service. In 2018, under the guidance of General Counsel Hubert Allen, Abbott Legal developed a pro bono program designed to provide legal assistance to disadvantaged and underserved communities and constituencies. Essential to the success of Abbott’s pro bono program has been the development of strong partnerships with legal service organizations, including CDEL, Prairie State Legal Services, Ascend Justice, Lambda Legal and North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic, and significant collaboration and support from law firm partners, such as Kirkland & Ellis, Baker McKenzie, and Jenner & Block.
The scope of Abbott’s pro bono work is wide-ranging. Abbott has hosted clinics to assist low-income seniors obtain powers of attorney and living wills; helped victims of domestic violence obtain emergency orders of protection; counseled clients seeking to expunge their records to lift barriers to housing, employment, or education; conducted legal research to aid in the creation of an interactive online resource for LGBTQ+ youth, allies, and service providers; and provided legal name change services to low-income transgender individuals. Since the inception of the program, Abbott has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to pro bono service and Abbott volunteers have helped many people in need.
Distinguished Public Service Award: Michael O’Connor
Mike O’Connor has dedicated his entire legal career to the field of civil legal aid. He has been working at Prairie State Legal Services on behalf of low-income individuals since 1989. He advanced through the organization from a staff attorney to a managing attorney and has served as Executive Director for the past 15 years. In his roles, he has served and lead others in serving thousands of vulnerable Illinois citizens who needed civil legal aid to help maintain basic human needs. In addition to his work accomplishments and the impact he has had on client lives, he is a kind and warm-hearted individual who cares deeply about his coworkers and is a joy to be around. Mike received his J.D. from Loyola University and received a Bachelor of Music, Applied Piano from the University of South Dakota.