During virtual celebrations as part of our 2021 Pro Bono Week celebration, PILI recognized the extraordinary pro bono contributions of five attorneys through its Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committees.
The recipient of the Third Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Service Award is Janel Freeman. Janel began her career working with victims of domestic violence for Land of Lincoln Legal Aid out of their Alton office. Currently, she runs a private practice in Edwardsville, Illinois. Janel is a reliable practitioner and can be called upon at any time to serve as Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) or mediator or counsel in the most challenging of family cases and juvenile abuse matters. She always makes time in her schedule and has never balked, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Colleagues have emphasized that Janel serves with kindness and compassion and has had a profoundly impactful career in Madison County.
The recipient of the Fifth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Service Award is Judy Baker. Judy is a devoted advocate within the community and has had a particularly strong impact in family law cases. Over the past three years, Judy has taken on numerous divorce cases from the circuit and closed them within the consecutive year, an impressive feat to say the least. She doesn’t shy away from difficult cases and has taken the initiative to advocate for her clients and protect them from abuse and restore a sense of safety. She is considered one of the most consistent pro bono attorneys in Coles County. When she has not had a recent referral, she reaches out for a new client to help.
The recipient of the Sixth Judicial Circuit Community Legal Services Award is Andrew Bequette. It is nearly impossible to estimate the number of hours that Andrew has volunteered because he works in so many courtrooms in Champaign County and in so many courthouses in central Illinois. As a strong proponent of pro bono, Andrew accepts appointments as a Guardian Ad Litem in guardianship cases for minors and for disabled adults. He also accepts appointments to represent alleged disabled adults in contested guardianship cases. He recognizes the dignity of each person involved in the litigation, and handles each case respectfully and skillfully. In cases where the proposed guardian is an unrepresented litigant, he gathers necessary information and drafts necessary paperwork so that orders can be entered in the best interests of the client.
The recipient of the Tenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Service Award is Kerrianne Waters. Kerrianne is a dedicated public servant with a depth of experience in the field. Kerrianne has been a long-time volunteer in the Peoria area, taking on expungement cases, participating in clinics, and volunteering wherever is needed. She is committed to helping others and giving back to her community, and regularly takes cases from Prairie State Legal Services and PILI as well as volunteering at PILI’s Self-Represented Litigant Help Desk. In addition to her pro bono work, she promotes the importance of pro bono to other in the legal community.
The recipient of the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Service Award is Ted Donner. Ted has had an impactful presence in DuPage County as a leader and true champion of pro bono legal services and has led by example in the DuPage County Bar Association. He was instrumental in launching the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee. He is an adjunct professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and has helped set up regular Illinois Free Legal Answers clinics with their students and alumni as well as at NIU College of Law with their students and alumni, helping to engage the next generation of lawyers in volunteerism. Among his many other notable contributions, Ted is a pillar of the DuPage eviction mediation program that will help residents at this pivotal time at the end of the eviction moratorium.