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PILI Mourns the Passing of Life Director Donald Hilliker

PILI Life Director Donald Hilliker passed away on August 29, 2022 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Don joined PILI’s Board of Directors in 2006 on behalf of his then firm, McDermott Will & Emery LLP, and in 2015 was named as a Life Director in honor of his many years of service to PILI his careerlong commitment to public interest law and access to justice.

“The PILI Board of Directors and staff are saddened by the loss of Don and we extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. We are thankful for his many years of service to and support of PILI,” said Executive Director Michael Bergmann. “Don was a true champion of helping others in need and his commitment to that work had a huge impact on the lives of countless individuals and families.”

Don graduated from Loyola University of Chicago in 1966 and Northwestern University School of Law in 1969, where he was a member of the Law Review and graduated as a member of the Order of the Coif. As an attorney, Don retired from the practice of law in 20228 as a partner with McDermott Will & Emery. His commitment to helping others dates back to 1969 when Don was selected as a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow to work full time on behalf of those living in poverty. He continued to serve the most vulnerable while in private practice. In the 1990s, Don was named the chair of the McDermott Will & Emery Pro Bono Committee. During his term he expanded the pro bono commitment of the firm to not only include legal services but to also engage the staff in providing help to those in need. During his last four years as a McDermott partner, Don spearheaded the development of this work internationally as the firm-wide Pro Bono & Community Service Partner. He encouraged the practice of outreach to each of the firm’s European offices. His efforts reinforced and broadened a commitment to service in the firm’s global culture and outreach. Don was an Adjunct Professor of Litigation Ethics at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law for many years.

PILI Alum Elizabeth Lewis succeeded Don as both McDermott’s Pro Bono & Community Service Partner and their representative on the PILI Board of Directors. She had this to say, “Don truly embodied the best ideals of the legal profession. He held himself to the highest standards, recognizing that it is imperative for lawyers to support those in need and give back to their communities. Over the course of his many years at McDermott Will & Emery, he instilled these same ideals in hundreds of younger lawyers by institutionalizing a robust pro bono program. For me personally, he was a great mentor and friend. I can’t overstate the impact that he had on my career or my desire to not just engage in pro bono myself but to lead others to do so. He will be greatly missed. ”

Don is survived by his wife, Carolyn (Ky) of 50 years, daughters Carrie F. Hilliker and Sarah D. Hilliker, granddaughters Cecilia Hilliker-Flick and Eva Kempf, grandson George Kempf and son-in-law Timothy Kempf.

Don’s obituary can be found here.

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