PILI is grateful to Michael Whalen who has been serving as Chair of our Young Professionals Board for the last year and will conclude his term at the end of this month. Michael Whalen is an associate in the Litigation practice of Paul Hastings and his practice focuses on complex commercial litigation, internal corporate investigations, and white collar criminal defense. Prior to joining Paul Hastings, Michael clerked for the Honorable Thomas L. Ludington of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. We asked Michael a few questions about this involvement with PILI.
What drew you to PILI and its mission?
I was initially drawn to PILI through other attorneys I knew who had had positive experiences with PILI’s Internship and Fellowship Programs. I was impressed by those programs and how they empowered law students and young lawyers to seek out and volunteer with causes meaningful to them, and thus where they would have the biggest impact. On top of that, PILI’s focus on filling the most basic needs for legal aid and advice in Illinois, through its participation in IL-AFLAN (and, later, Illinois Free Legal Answers), was a huge draw for me.
How has your commitment to pro bono service played a role in your life and career?
Pro bono service has allowed me to remain in touch with areas of the legal system that most closely map onto the issues that directly affect our Illinois community, such as criminal justice, veterans issues, and support for the underserved and marginalized. There are many groups out there that need competent legal counsel more than we lawyers often appreciate, and a commitment to pro bono service helps keep me in touch with that fact.
Why do you like serving on the Young Professionals Board?
I like how the YPB challenges its members to find ways to connect professional networks that are not always focused on the needs and gaps in our local legal community to a pro bono organization like PILI, which is acutely focused on these issues. It is rewarding to make those connections and find unique ways to give back.