2021 – Theresa Duckett

Theresa Duckett is a true pro bono champion within the corporate sector and someone who has led by example throughout her career, especially in her current role at BMO Harris Bank. Her personal dedication to public service has been clear since her early days in law school. During her time at Tulane University School of Law she was a PILI intern at the Better Government Association, and she returned to the organization for a fellowship after graduating cum laude in 2002. Theresa went on to join Locke Lord LLP, where she chaired the firm’s pro bono committee and represented many asylum clients volunteering with the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC).

Theresa currently works as Associate General Counsel and VP at BMO Financial Group, where she developed and implemented a pro bono program in 2015. Theresa has inspired many others to follow her lead, both within and outside of her organization. At a National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) workshop for corporate and law firm partners, Theresa was the first person to speak up, committing BMO to take on six asylum cases. Any hesitation in the room quickly disappeared, and many other participating legal departments followed in her footsteps, also committing to take on more pro bono immigration matters. This year, Theresa and other in-house lawyers worked with NIJC to sponsor an asylum clinic, creating a remote volunteer opportunity for even more lawyers to provide pro bono services.

 Those who know Theresa speak highly of her enthusiasm, humility, and commitment to her work. In addition to her longstanding commitment to supporting NIJC, she has also worked with the Center for Disability and Elder Law and volunteered with the Chicago Public Schools. One of her recommenders wrote, “Theresa’s lifelong commitment to pro bono is real. She has served the most vulnerable and needy people in our society. In addition, she has encouraged so many other lawyers to do the same thus making her impact on the world even more meaningful. We are all blessed to know her.”