The immediate past president of PILI’s Board of Directors is Lee Ann Russo, partner at Jones Day, who has long been a champion for PILI and for pro bono work. She first got involved with PILI when our Pro Bono Initiative Program was just beginning. “I became such a believer in the ability of the Pro Bono Initiative to facilitate the growth of pro bono work by law firms, corporations and law schools that I quickly became a PILI fan,” she recounts. Lee Ann soon joined PILI’s Board of Directors, where she could continue to support this program as well as PILI’s Internship, Fellowship and Alumni Programs.
Through her work and leadership on PILI’s Board, Lee Ann has gotten to see first-hand the impact PILI has on expanding pro bono in Chicago and across the state. “I consider PILI to be a pro bono “hub” for which the agencies, firms, corporate law departments and law schools are the spokes and wheel,” she explains. “To the extent that I, like other Board members, have helped to guide PILI through membership in planning committees and have provided other means of support, I’ve received multiple returns on my time investment. It’s such a personal reward to see PILI’s influence on Chicago and now Illinois pro bono grow so steadily.”
Lee Ann’s own pro bono work doesn’t stop with PILI. As the Public Service Coordinator for Jones Day’s Chicago office, she helps facilitate all of the pro bono legal and public service work the office does. And they do a lot of it! “We have a remarkable group of pro bono agencies with which the office partners,” Lee Ann says. “I, in particular, work closely with the National Immigrant Justice Center and supervise most of the associates in our office who work on asylum cases.” Lee Ann also serves on NIJC’s Leadership Board. In 2013, Lee Ann’s pro bono work took her all the way to Liberia through Lawyers Without Borders. “We trained judges, private lawyers, prosecutors and police how to preside over, prosecute and investigate, respectively, human trafficking cases,” she explains. “It was one of my favorite pro bono activities.”