2019 – Sherene Awad Jodrey
Sherene Awad Jodrey has been a champion for pro bono throughout her legal career, first as an associate at Winston & Strawn, then in-house at Aon, and now as Senior Counsel at The Boeing Company. The length and breadth of her pro bono service are impressive, as is the ripple effect of her pro bono advocacy, which has inspired many other attorneys and helped to build new in-house pro bono programs.
As a long-time volunteer with the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), Sherene has championed the rights of some of the most vulnerable populations in the world, including asylum seekers fleeing abuse and persecution in their home countries. She launched Aon’s Global Pro Bono Initiative, partnering with legal aid organizations throughout Chicago to establish a robust pro bono program which provided new opportunities and support for in-house attorneys. Sherene also forged a relationship with Equip for Equality, recruiting in-house attorneys to help staff the organization’s Special Education Helpline.
Sherene doesn’t shy away from challenging cases. In one noteworthy case, Sherene successfully advocated on behalf of a client who was violently persecuted in her home country of Chechnya because of her gender identity. After fleeing to Russia, she was tracked down by her persecutors. They stabbed her in the back, leaving her unconscious on the ground with a collapsed lung. She ultimately traveled to the United States, where Sherene represented her until she was finally granted asylum. In the words of her pro bono client, “Sherene was like a mother, guiding me through the process and holding my hand through every step along the way.”
Sherene’s work has created new opportunities and served as an inspiration for many other lawyers. She has demonstrated the profound impact that in-house attorneys and pro bono programs can have, in their own departments and with their outside counsel. Lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis who have partnered with Sherene on pro bono said it well: “[her] commitment to and love for pro bono is evident in everything she does.”