A History of Celebrating Pro Bono
In 1999, PILI launched its Pro Bono Initiative for the New Millennium in an effort to enhance the scope and quantity of pro bono legal assistance in Illinois for those who lack access to justice. As part of that program in 2001, a large group of Chicago-area law firms and corporate legal departments joined PILI for a signing ceremony to formally acknowledge their joint commitment to incorporating pro bono legal services into their business cultures.
Groundbreaking at its inception, this early statement of pro bono principles acknowledged the critical role of the legal profession in addressing the unmet legal needs of Illinois’ poor and underrepresented. Those trailblazing law firms and corporate legal departments agreed to actively engage in and support pro bono practice, and to develop pro bono policies within their firms and legal departments.
PILI continued to recognize a growing roster of law firms and corporate legal departments committed to pro bono through our Pro Bono Initiative Honor Roll until 2006, and since 2010, we have honored the significant pro bono contributions of law firms, corporate legal departments and legal industry corporate partners throughout the state of Illinois with our annual Pro Bono Recognition Roster.
Today, PILI’s Pro Bono Program offers a range of pro bono programming and resources, develops innovative projects and cultivates best practices, and celebrates ongoing pro bono contributions. Law firms and corporations that meet the Recognition Roster's criteria are honored at PILI's Annual Pro Bono Reception each year. The Annual Pro Bono Reception celebrates the inspiring and life-changing pro bono work being done in Illinois through effective pro bono programs, innovative partnerships, and the unwavering dedication of individual pro bono attorneys and legal professionals.
In 2020, PILI also launched its Pro Bono Volunteer Honor Roll to recognize the volunteer contributions of those giving their time and talent through the pro bono opportunities available through PILI. PILI staff select those to be recognized based on the contributions they have made over the past year to helping those in need of free legal services across Illinois. Those named to the Honor Roll are also recognized at PILI's Annual Pro Bono Reception.